Appraising Your Basement’s Potential

In many homes a basement can be found space that’s ripe for remodeling to expand the living area in space that’s already under roof so an addition isn’t necessary. If you have a basement and want to tap its hidden possibilities get started by evaluating the space and how you want to use it. Snoop around and look for signs of moisture and condensation, water marks and signs of seepage on the floor and walls. If you find moisture marks take steps to eliminate them before going any further; at the ceiling look for pest infestation in the exposed joists.

Use an online design tool or clipboard with notepaper to walk around the basement and create a rough sketch marking the locations of the following. Then use this checklist as a guideline for what to consider and the scope of the work involved.

  • stairs, windows, doors, and support poles
  • heating and cooling systems like a furnace, heat pump, hot water heater
  • utility area with clothes washer, dryer and wash tub

You’ll find job costs of 8 of the most popular basement improvements at Pricing Out Basement Fix Up Projects.

More related articles are the Basement Worksheet and Stages of a Basement Remodel.


Replace a Basement Cellar Door

diy134aA direct entrance to a basement is appealing for several reasons. You’ll know what we mean if you replace your furnace or hot water heater and have to manhandle the old monsters up the stairs and through the house to get rid of them. The same is true if you’re replacing an old clothes washer and dryer with new ones. A sturdy new basement cellar door provides an easy opening and direct access – not to mention an emergency exit – for a basement, so it’s a popular replacement project in many old homes.

A contractor will charge $1448 to install a cellar door which includes the labor and material. You can buy the unit for $700 and install it yourself, saving 51 percent. Budget more money if repair work on the existing stairs and concrete frame around the stairway is needed which can be scheduled when the old door is removed and before the new one is installed.

To find the correct size, you need to measure the width of the area inside the stairway walls. Use a manufacturer’s site for help sizing a cellar door or take the dimensions to a lumberyard or home center where cellar door units are sold. The installation involves several steps: removing the old doors, assembling the new unit, repairing any concrete (if necessary), and drilling holes and then fastening the new unit in place.

To find the cost of hundreds of home improvement projects and compare the cost of doing the job yourself with hiring a contractor visit us at