Are you ready to tackle an outdated or unfinished basement? You don’t need a good remodeler, you need a good basement remodeler. Here’s how to find a pro with the experience to solve dampness, lack of light, low ceilings and other basement challenges to create fresh, healthy, family-friendly living space.
Lots of remodelers will tell you they’re basement remodelers. But do they really have the expertise to solve the structural, environmental and comfort challenges necessary to make a basement “all that it can be?” Here are tips for making sure they do!
Assess their basement remodeling “IQ.” A good basement remodeler will be able to suggest specialty products that can make all the difference in how well your remodeled space will look and feel. Heated floors, for example, can take away the cold, damp feel not only of basement floors but of the entire lower-level living space. So, as you interview a potential basement remodeler, ask tough questions about what they recommend for everything from sealing out moisture to dealing with any mold or mildew that may presently exist and what they will do to prevent moisture, mold and mildew problems in the future.
Look for extra creativity. Basements typically have tiny windows, low ceilings and lots of infrastructure — ductwork, beams, furnace, hot water heater, etc. Given these challenges, you want to look for a remodeler who can apply an extra level of functional innovation and design creativity to your basement. Experienced basement remodelers, for example, are pros at combining ambient, task and spot lighting to make dark spaces glow and ceilings seem higher. They can draw on experience with other basement remodeling projects, too, to share smart ideas such as ways to tuck in extra storage or even add extra windows and doors.
Ask to see completed basement projects. Remember, plenty of remodelers can show you beautiful photos of above-ground rooms filled with light, high ceilings and open spaces. But an experienced basement remodeler can also show you actual before-and-after photos of basements they’ve finished or remodeled. This way, you can make an apples-to-apples assessment of their skill in working with basements just like yours.
Of course you should check references! This is always important with any contractor, but with a basement remodeler it’s especially important because you want to know how the work holds up over time. Did the flooring eventually warp? Did a musty smell return? Is the space cold and damp in winter? Or did the finished basement become the homeowners’ coziest, most favorite room of the house?
Make sure everything is on the up-and-up. Basement remodeling can involve working around gas lines, electrical boxes and ductwork. You want to be confident that your remodeler (or his subcontractors) have the skills and licenses to work safely and to code. Ask how the remodeler will handle pulling permits (and if he says not to worry about permits or pull them yourself, run!). Also ask to see the home improvement license, general liability insurance, workers comp insurance and business registration. Check any prospective basement remodeler on search engines and social media.