The desire for homes with basements are actually increasing these days. Many people are specifically looking for a single story home with a daylight basement and while they used to be all the rage in the 1970s and 80s, they are certainly making a comeback. People are using basements these days for everything from a second living space, man cave, “she shed”, playroom or guest quarters. They really are becoming a place that adds added value to a home.
The Ozaukee and Washington County area has dozens of homes with basements for sale. At any given time there’s roughly 100 to 200 different types of properties priced all over the board that offer some type of basement. However, if you’re considering a home with a basement there are some things that you need to be aware of. Here are 10 things to check on if you’re considering a home with a basement.
#1. The smell.
Does the basement have a mildew he or musty smell? There could be water damage somewhere, perhaps current or in the past, that has damage some of the drywall, foundation or the flooring. This can lead to mold and toxic fumes. This is something not to miss. Many people think that a musty basement is normal but it shouldn’t be.
#2. Do you want to finished basement?
There are many basements that are considered unfinished. They may have exposed wood framing, exposed foundation or may not be carpeted or have flooring that you would use for the upstairs. Are you considering finishing it and would be an expensive upgrade?
#3. Is the space usable?
A basement might be great for a root cellar to keep grandmas preserves in but is it usable for anything else? You have to think about what you’re going to use your basement for and if it would be too expensive to upgrade to usability or to simply find a home that already has a finished basement.
#4. Is there a grade to the property?
Property great is another water related concern to check on. You want to correct any major issues like regrading the property or fixing foundation lakes. Some homes have grading sloping towards the home, which means the water could naturally flow towards the basement.
#5. Is the construction up to code?
Consider the ceiling. Most basement ceilings under 6 feet high may not pass the local building code for construction. You want to know by asking your home inspector or your real estate agent about the local building codes and what the ceiling height needs to be. The ductwork alone can take up more than a foot of headroom.
#6. Ceiling obstructions.
More on the ceiling; what is the basement ceiling look like. Are you considering installing a drywall ceiling or other water lines and electrical conduits that are running beneath the upper level? You may need a drop ceiling if drywall is not an option. You’re not just dealing with an attic, you’re dealing with the upstairs flooring.
#7. What is the heating and cooling situation?
Does the basement have existing ductwork that allows heating and cooling throughout the basement? If not, it’s quite expensive to get that installed. You may need to tap into the existing HVAC system. Basements tend to be cooler so while this could be a good thing in the summer, it might be extra cold in the winter.
#8. Is radon an issue?
Radon is an odorless natural gas found in homes from time to time. The soil around the property may contain trace fragments of radon, which may or may not be a problem. Home improvement stores do sell radon kits otherwise a good home inspector can check for you.
#9. Water damage.
Water damage is always a risk when were talking about basements. As we mentioned previously, a musty or moldy smell is usually a good sign that there may be some form of mold but other things such as efflorescence, which is a white or grayish ash on the walls caused by salt deposits left behind by evaporating water could also be an issue. Spalling may be another issue of concern, which is when water gets inside the service of concrete, brick or stone and could cause the surface to flake or appeal.[Source]
#10. Is there emergency exits?
All homes should be built with an escape route from every room but older homes that may have undergone non-coded renovations may have some illegal building situations. If there is a close off bedroom without an exit, this is something that should be addressed. Often times a window could be used as an emergency exit but I’ve seen situations where the homeowners have extended about this room and completely closed off the window, making an emergency exit nonexistent.
Homes with basements are all the rage and people love having this option but for you really to enjoy your home with a basement you want to know everything about it before hand.
For a complete list of all homes in your price range with a basement throughout the Ozaukee and Washington County contact Peggy Wester today.
Image By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons