You might not know it, but your unfinished basement has huge potential. With just some design tweaks, you can spruce up the look of your dark and grimy basement. However, a basement renovation is not as easy as it seems. It’s more than painting the basement walls and ceilings. There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to basement remodeling.

To guide you in this home improvement project, we have listed the essential questions to ask before you start transforming your below-ground space. 

What will you do with the new basement space?

First, you need to determine the function of your basement. The basement design and finishes will depend on how you plan to use that space. Do you need a storage area or an extra bedroom suite? Consider the following ideas on what you can get out of your below-ground area:

  • Home theater or media room for people who like watching movies
  • Guest bedroom for family and friends
  • Home gym if you like working out regularly
  • Home office for people who are working at home
  • Entertainment or game room if you like playing board games with family

What is your budget?

Like any other home improvement project, you need to set a clear budget. This step will determine the scope and scale of your basement remodeling. Before you hire a professional contractor, you may get a quote from different companies. Getting a project estimate will prevent overspending and prepare you for unexpected expenses. Setting your budget will help you stay on track throughout the rest of the project.

Do you own a historic house?

Historic homes with fieldstone foundations are harder to remodel. This type of house usually has severe moisture issues. The first step is to install a system that prevents water infiltration. 

After adding exterior waterproof barriers and drainage systems, you need to stop moisture from the inside. Interior waterproofing like sealants, plastic panels, and concrete waterproof coatings will be installed. These products will form a hard, waterproof surface on your basement walls. 

Basement waterproofing is a complex and costly undertaking. So, make sure your budget can cover the expenses.

How will you keep moisture out?

Even if you have a modern home, your basement is still prone to moisture issues. When your basement is experiencing leaks or flooding, it’s important to address the root problem first. Before you put up new wallpapers or fix the electrical wirings, prioritize fixing your flooding issues. A moisture-free basement will remain dry and comfortable for a long time. 

Fix the cracks on the walls and insulate your basement from water damage. Add vapor barriers on the walls and flooring before you proceed with the finishing process. When you choose a basement remodeler, they can offer different waterproofing considerations. They will also treat mold and remove the musty odors in your below-ground space.

What are the building and fire codes in your area?

To ensure good results, you need to know all the local building and fire codes. According to the International Residential Code (IRC), a basement living space should have a floor-to-ceiling height of at least 7 feet. Relevant codes for electrical work, plumbing, and HVAC must be followed accordingly. Moreover, there should be an egress or a safe way where people can exit in case of an emergency, called an egress. 

Building and fire codes help ensure the safety of properties and the people inside them. These standards ensure structural integrity and safety, especially during fires, earthquakes, and general deterioration. Your basement remodeler must apply for permits and ensure that the finished basement is up to code. A reliable contractor will help you navigate the ins and outs of your local building codes.

Do you have a specific vision in mind?

Once you’ve settled the concerns regarding flooding or structural safety, now’s the time to look for design ideas. Check out different home remodeling websites and magazines. A simple internet search will lead you to different ideas for your unfinished basement!


If you need help with your project, turn to Pittsburgh Basement Remodeling. Let our team guide you throughout all aspects of your basement remodel. We will not just transform your dark basement but also increase your home’s value. Contact us to schedule an appointment with our experts today!