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Transform Your Cluttered Basement into a Cozy Den

Stage 1: Getting Your Basement Organized

cluttered basement

“I’ve checked everywhere else, it has to be down here somewhere!” How many times have you said this while digging around your basement for that one thing you need? A cluttered basement is not only inconvenient and aggravating – it could actually be dangerous. Stacked clutter can potentially fall and hurt someone. Cans and bottles could break open and leak dangerous chemicals. A fire could even start, catching on the clutter or chemicals that can be near the furnace or water heater. This is precisely why it is critical to keep your basement organized, regardless of how difficult the undertaking may seem.

In reality, the most difficult part of keeping your basement well-organized is just starting. Once you have shelving and other storage systems set up, keeping your basement tidy is relatively painless. Assembling these storage systems without any help isn’t always a straightforward task, so it could possibly help to consult a qualified basement remodeler when planning things out.

As you begin to search through the accumulated clutter, ask yourself tough questions like, “Do I really need this?” and “Do I ever use this?” For instance, you may find your children’s bikes in your basement. Do you still need to hold onto them now that your children have outgrown them? Take these items and donate them to a local charity if they are still in good shape; otherwise throw them away.

Discard any broken devices and “thingamajigs” you come across. It’s possible you have intended to fix that item eventually, but if it’s still broken, you likely won’t get around to it any time soon. Throw it out and move on. Same for any little device you find. If you can’t even remember where it’s from, it’s likely that you won’t miss it.

Be willing to encounter items that send you down memory lane. The best thing to do is to set these sentimental items aside for later. And then you can reminisce after your basement cleaning task is completed.

Once your basement has been sorted and the things you don’t need any more are cleared out, you must take steps not to return to old habits. Store items in large plastic bins. Clear ones are nice since you can see just what is inside without opening them. If you can only find colored bins, try to use the different colors to represent different types of items the bins contain. For example, put Christmas decorations in a green bin and sports equipment in a blue bin. Later when you need a particular item, such as a soccer ball, you know you just have to look in blue bins.

Have shelving units installed in your basement to hold the bins.  If there are any objects that can’t be replaced, try not to store them on the bottom shelves as basements can flood from time to time. Similarly, do not store paints, cleaning products, pesticides, or other chemicals on the bottom shelves. They can make a toxic mess if your basement floods.

Set up pegboards to store odd-shaped items like ironing boards. You can also use the ceiling for the storage of items like hoses and chairs if the beams are strong enough. Do NOT use ceiling pipes for storage. They are not intended for the excess weight and can become damaged.

Objects that you use most often should be stored nearest to the basement door. If you buy food in bulk and store it in your basement, consider installing a pantry at the base of the stairs. This is one instance when hiring an experienced basement remodeler will surely lighten your own workload. A pantry can contain sliding shelves and other conveniences that keep your basement organized and make your life easier.

By taking all these measures to organize your basement and keeping the systems in place, your basement should stay neat and tidy. This will help to prevent accidents and fires, as well as make your life easier.

basement remodelStage 2: Choosing the Right Basement Remodeler

Now that your basement is nice and tidy, 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 a 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 spotlighting 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.

Remember, basements present some tough remodeling challenges. To make sure you get the best possible job, ask tough questions up front to find your own best basement remodeler.

About the Author Joyce

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