I'm looking at buying a home with an unfinished basement. I'm in central Indiana and moisture is an issue, but the current owner is putting in a moisture barrier. Its 900 sq. ft., has two large rooms on the sides after going down the stairs, and a full bath (which seemed to operate 50~ years ago as its all completely unusable and lost to time at this point).
I realize I'm asking a general question here - but does anyone have any tips for finishing a basement? I'd like to put a good vapor barrier, insulation, and waterproof flooring (laminate slightly raised off the ground). Going to wall off the HVAC and add a fire egress. Finished drywall on the walls and ceiling with dome lights to make it less cramped. Any other tips to make it like a dungeon and rentable? I'm leaning toward each side (350-400 sqft.) being entire studios with small functional kitchen areas, bed, tv, closets, etc. This, along with the fire egresses, would take the house from 3 bed up to 5. I'm imagining this would immediately recoup the cost of the basement reno., but the plan would be to hold as a rental for several years.
I'm split at this point on the idea of that or going with a full 1 bed apartment + living room to keep costs lower (only one fire egress, no mini-kitchen needs on both sides) and guest comfort higher. As two studios the guests would have to split the full bath (which I'm not sure would be a huge deterrence and value decrease, but something to consider), and would obviously have less space each.
Happy to share more specific info about the space, but my general question is does anyone have any pros/cons to share about splitting up a space into multiple bedrooms or doing a bedroom+living room space. And then any horror stories or tips on finishing a basement would be greatly appreciated!
I finished my own basement. Did most of the work myself.
A vapor barrier usually protects against condensation which is important. Water is the enemy so even more important than water vapor is water leakage. Make sure your grading is good. Cinder blocks leak more than poured concrete. Check for cracks and make sure your sump and drain tiles work well.
I installed a floating floor so in case any water seeped in behind any of the walls, it ran under the floor rather than into the carpeting.
Good insulation is also key to making a basement feel warmer.
Do everything possible to prevent water from coming in. Vapor barriers, proper grading and drainage, window well covers, seal all cracks.
Make sure you have good egress windows.
Smoke and CO2 detectors properly placed.
Is it even code in your area to convert a basement to a second dwelling unit? In my area, no town is allowing that. So if that's the case and you do under the radar and someone dies in a fire- enjoy living in prison.
Outside of that, I would add internal french drain if it isn't there already. Too many people skip that and basement floods next heavy rain. Someone doing that at a decent price will be in the $8-10 per linear foot range.
I agree with @Adrien S. Check your local building department at to the legality of converting a basement into a living area. If it is allowable, there are very strict standards and make sure you get a permit.