Adding space to your home can help to make it more comfortable and to add more value.
If you have already looked into going out and up, have you considered doing some work to expand your basement?
With the increased cost of selling a home and trying to find a perfect solution for your family, expanding your current home tends to be a great solution.
Let’s look at some of the most commonly asked questions about the expansion of a basement.
Can You Expand a Basement?
In most cases, a basement can be expanded.
There are certain things you will have to research before starting your basement expansion project.
There are two ways in which you can expand a basement.
One way is to make your basement wider or longer.
Another way is to make it deeper.
Most commonly, homeowners will decide to add another room to their basement by excavating a new area.
If you have the property space to excavate a large portion, you could also add additional living space to the basement.
This would be a very good way to make the most use of the space you have.
The other way of expanding the basement is if you go a bit deeper.
Essentially, if you currently have a cellar or a basement with a very low ceiling height, you can always go down a few feet to make the basement space livable.
A basement expansion project is a large one, and you will have to consider quite a large number of factors.
Let’s look at some of the things which much be worked out before you start expanding our basement.
Things to Consider Before Expanding Your Basement
The following considerations are essential to examine before you decide on expanding your basement.
1. Permit/Structural Engineer
A basement expansion or excavation cannot be completed without first getting permits and contacting a structural engineer.
Without the permits in place, your basement expansion will not be legal, and it could end up causing you some major problems should you try and sell your home.
A structural engineer will help to make sure that your basement is going to hold up in the long term.
You will not be able to complete the basement if the structural engineer says that it is not stable or a good choice for your home.
While you have the structural engineer checking on this project, have them be creative about any other solutions which could exist in your home.
Even if the basement expansion is not the best option for your home, the structural engineer may be able to come up with other solutions.
Permit fees in some areas can be expensive, but they are absolutely necessary.
If you don’t spend the time to get the proper permits for your basement, it will cost you even more money down the road.
When you are looking at your basement expansion project, you must consider the windows and doors.
Basements will need a certain number of exit and entry points.
You will have to consider how you will add windows and at least one or two doors to the basement.
Sometimes if you are getting close to a property line, this can be difficult, but it is essential to get worked out.
3. Natural Light
It is hard to get natural light in a basement.
Although you will love having this extra space in your home, having no natural light will make it feel like a bit of a dungeon.
You will get some natural light from egress type windows that are installed around the edges of the basement.
Talk to your structural engineer about including at least two of these if possible.
Although you will still need to add lots of light to your basement, you will like the way this lighting helps your basement look quite a bit better.
4. Connection to the Existing Space
Have you thought about how your basement expansion is going to connect to the existing space?
For some people, the connection will be under the main floor simply by walking from one part of the basement to the other.
For others, the only way into the basement may be from the outside.
The connection to the outside space is important to consider because it will help your basement flow and function better.
Most people will try and have all of their basement space connected in some way.
Keep in mind that, because of structural issues, this is not always possible.
5. Protection from Water/Water Table
Basements are known for getting wet.
Some people have drainage issues in the basement, regardless of all the steps they’ve taken to keep the basement dry.
You will need to thoroughly test that your basement’s new area will be protected from water.
One of the concerns is going to be the water table.
Depending on where you live, you will have to see what the water table is like and whether or not you will be able to install a basement at the level that you need.
6. Utility Lines
Utility lines can cause major issues when it comes to expanding a basement.
If there are utility lines that are in the way, there are going to be increased costs, and you could potentially be unable to expand your basement.
Certain utility lines won’t be able to be moved, and therefore, the space you intended to expand your basement into will not be viable.
This can be a tough realization, but sometimes the expansion of a basement is just not possible because of the existing utility lines.
7. Cost vs. Use
There is no question that expanding your basement is going to be an expensive project.
You must make sure that the amount of money you spend is going to be justified by how often you use the basement area.
If your house is a bit too small for you but the cost to move is not feasible for you, then the cost will likely be worth it.
You can help offset some of the cost by doing some of the finish work yourself.
Although, most of the time, the excavation and structural work need to be completed by a professional, the finished work on the basement is not quite as complicated.
Can You Convert a Crawlspace into a Basement?
A crawlspace is an area under the home which is unfinished and literally requires a person to crawl through to access.
The crawlspace is sometimes a space where you can store some things, but for the most part, there is no living space in your crawl space.
Some areas have a crawlspace because their house is in an area with sandy or wet soils, and it had to be built up a bit.
Depending on where you live, the crawlspace can be converted into a basement.
In many coastal areas, this is not possible.
The water levels and the sand in the soil make it impossible for the conversion to be effective.
If you are looking to have your crawlspace converted to a basement, talk to some of the other homeowners in the area and see if they have a basement.
If you find that all of the houses on your block are without a basement, then you very likely cannot have one in your area.
However, you will find that having the crawlspace as a starting point can help you save a bit when it comes to adding your new basement on.
Does a Finished Basement Add Value to Your House?
Expanding the size of your basement can add value to your house.
The way you expand it and the way you add to what the basement has will help to make sure you get a very good return on your investment.
It is important to make sure you add features to your basement which will be appealing to another owner.
For instance, adding a bedroom and a bath in the basement can make your house appear larger as there are more areas for people to sleep.
If you can somehow add a revenue-producing space in your basement, that will only be more reason for a potential buyer to choose your home.
Many homes are able to add an outside entrance and make an apartment in the basement.
This allows for the addition to become an income-producing part of the home.
Surely, the cost to expand the basement will be paid off quite a bit more quickly when you are collecting monthly rent.
As with all things construction-related, there are lots of permits, fees, and inspections involved with this.
Make sure you know what you are signing up for when you head down this route.
Can You Expand a Basement When There Is No House Above?
Expanding a basement that has no single story above it can get a bit more involved than expanding a crawl space or expanding into an undeveloped area of an existing basement.
When you excavate this basement, you must make sure that there is a roof overhead.
The roof becomes the tricky part.
This area will be partially exposed above the ground, and it must be completely waterproof.
This can end up leaving a bit of a sore spot in your yard.
You will have to work with your architect and engineer to make sure that you can put something together which looks and performs appropriately.
Some people can turn the roof of the extended basement into a walkable deck.
Others will try and keep this area of the yard hidden with landscaping.
Whatever way you decide to do this is fine, as long as you understand that it will be a factor that needs to be considered.
If the roof of the basement extension has to hold any water, it will undoubtedly release that water into the new extension.
This roof issue is what makes most homeowners create an extension that is both a basement and a single story.
You will double the amount of space you get, and you can turn the top portion into a garage or sunroom if the house does not need additional space.
This gives you some more options, and it is usually a better overall solution.
The bottom line is that, in most instances, you can expand a basement.
The basement will need to be in a buildable area of land, and it will have to stay protected from water as well.
The options for building out the basement are not all that complicated as long as you have a great structural engineer to help you through the process.
This is very likely not a project you can complete without the help of a professional.
Ensure you consider all of this process’s positives and negatives, as expanding the basement tends to be a rather expensive project.