Everything You Need to Know Before You Start Finishing Your Basement

An unfinished basement is a goldmine of opportunities. Regardless of how spacious it is, an unfinished basement can be transformed into anything you desire. A finished basement can be your personal gym, a playroom, or simply a resting zone.

But finishing a basement is a complicated building project.

To make it a bit easier for you, we’ve compiled a checklist of things you need to know before you start the process:

A Building Permit

In case you’re still not sure whether or not you need a building permit for transforming your unfinished basement into a functional living area, contact your county clerk. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially since this kind of renovation project requires a lot of time, money, and effort on your part.

Check your Building & Electronic Codes

It’s crucial to check your building and electronic codes before starting this project. Some building codes are pretty strict about unlicensed basement finishing projects. Even though they allow you to do your own plumbing and wiring, these codes require you to hire a professional builder for floors and walls.

The same typically applies to electrical works, particularly when it comes to GFCI outlets. Some electrical codes forbid builders to use polyethylene and PVC pipes, for instance. There are many moving parts to a basement finishing project, so make sure you know all the details before you start.

Employ Project Management & Outline the Overall Project

As with any business project, you need to have a clear overview of your goals and resources. Project management can help you out with this. Don’t leap before you look, but take some time to answer the following questions first:

  • How much lighting are you going to need, and what kind?
  • Will your basement require a special drainage system?
  • How do you plan to wire your finished basement?
  • What are the best flooring options for your project?
  • Are you going to need some room for extra food storage?
  • Will you be installing windows, and if yes, of what kind?
  • Finally, will you be installing a door that leads outside?

All this depends on what you’ve envisioned in the first place. For some people, a finished basement is a storage space with nothing but shelves. To others, it’s a huge part of their home. A guest room, for example, requires all the same amenities as upper floors do, which calls for windows and drainage.


Whatever direction you eventually choose to head in, waterproofing your new basement area is a must. It’s also one of the most complicated parts of this project, so it may be a good idea to outsource it to a specialist. Do some research online and find the best basement finishing company in the area.

Test for Radon

A colorless and odorless radioactive gas known as radon is a common inhabitant in some unfinished basements. This may be a good opportunity to nip it in the bud. Since long-term exposure to high levels of this gas can cause lung cancer, be sure that your basement is radon-free before you finish it.

Every basement finishing project is a complicated endeavor but it’s also a very rewarding one. If you’re planning to do everything on your own, do stick to this checklist. But if you still don’t know where and how to start, think about outsourcing the entire project to a basement finishing company. The expert basement finishers at CMH Builders would be happy to assist you on your basement finishing project.

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