Whether you're looking for an additional bedroom, home theater, or man cave, finishing a basement is a great way to add much-needed square footage to your home. Basements are also wonderful for guest rooms, workout areas, playrooms, or home offices for the increasing number of Americans who work at least part-time from home.
There are a several important things to consider before designing a basement space, including any zoning or permitting requirements as well as issues that arise when building below grade, such as air quality and susceptibility to mold [source: Garcia]. Safety is also an issue for basements – you need to be sure there are adequate escape routes in case of fire. Water is probably the biggest potential enemy in a basement. Before you build, make sure your underground lair is dry. Any water seeping in is bound to cause problems down the road.
Overall, basement renovations command a lot of bang for your renovation buck, even in a soft real estate market. According to Kavanagh, this is especially true if the basement re-do includes an extra bedroom, home office, or the potential for rental income from a self-contained flat.
"Having a basement apartment that could potentially be rented out adds a lot of value to a home," he says. "In some markets and depending on the size and finishes of the space, basement apartments can off-set a sizable portion of the homeowner's monthly mortgage."