basement fix-up worth it?

suzan30February 24, 2013

I finished half of my basement several years ago and created a tv room with an adjacent craft room. The other half of the basement was tiled with the ceramic tile that runs throughout, but otherwise left untouched. I use it as as laundry room and for open storage. Now I'd like to do something with that area, but I'm not sure on whether it is worth it to spend money here. I don't have an attic or garage (this is a townhouse in Chicago), so it will continue to be used for storage. Any kind of ceiling would be a problem because of the furnace return, etc. is in this area. Does it make sense to paint the concrete walls and ceiling to brighten things up, or just leave it as is?

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You don't mention the space size. Is it large enough for a future alternative use? What have adjacent units done with similar space?

Hopefully the market is improving but multiple-unit housing generally appeals to single, first-time or down-sizing buyers and they have many from which to choose. You may want to speak with a local realtor for recommendations about what buyers are looking for to guide your decsion. Some very basic walls with a few outlets and some drop ceiling tiles might not be too costly and increase buyer appeal. Doing so would make it easier to clean and still be used as you do.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 3:33PM
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Thanks for the follow up. I actually live quite close to downtown Chicago (10 minutes), so these townhouses are pretty desirable for people who don't want a condo and can't afford a single family house (most go for close to a million around here). The other thing going for them is that they were designed by a well-known architect (I. M. Pei) and have a nice modernist vibe. There are 4 bedrooms and two full baths upstairs, open floor plan living/dining room, half bath, office, and kitchen downstairs, and the family room and craft room in the basement. Since they are fairly spacious, they are pretty popular with young families.

I imagine that most people would want/need storage and a laundry space and the unfinished half of the basement is it. I've done a lot of improvements to the house since I purchased it 3 years ago, but I'm not sure whether investing money in what is a "work space" will pay off. That said, it is not a bright or cheerful place!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Certainly, brighten it up with paint at the least. If you do finish it, do it professionally. Virtually all finished basements I saw as a real estate broker for 17 years were sadly amateurish.

I.M. Pei townhouses, Chicago

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 10:54PM
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What do you mean by pay off? Are you planning to sell? If so, then by all means do just the bare minimum. Remove the cobwebs and dirt, shop vac everything really well, scrub and paint. And I'd probly not even spend time painting the furnace area and put that effort into repainting bathrooms and the kitchen instead.

However if you will live here for years to come and would get better use out of the space or go down there more often, then it pays off in its use to you so I'd finish it all nice. Thus far you've only mentioned painting and cleaning it up tho, and that you can do no matter what. You're only talking about $100 spent and a weekend of work there so why not?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:51AM
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suzan30 - totally mis-judged your home while thinking of the more typical developer units. That said, I believe my guide to evaluating future-owner expectations would be your best way to determine how to finish (or not) the space. And yes, your property should be professionally remodeled, the right lighting will create the atmosphere for cheer.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:21AM
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Thanks everyone for your responses, and Worthy--yep, that's where I live, although the pics shows what are called "E" units and mine is a "D." The look is similar; the layout slightly different. I'm not planning on selling until I retire (another 14 years at least). The finished half basement was done professionally and looks nice, so I'm wondering whether to 1) finish the rest in a similar fashion 2) slap some paint on the walls 3) do nothing. Right now I think I'm leaning towards nothing!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:51PM
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I found a picture of a "D" unit that is just like mine!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:56PM
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Hope it has worked out better than Pei's most infamous design, the Hancock Tower in Boston, renowned for its plummeting glass panels.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:18AM
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Worthy--very funny! No plummeting glass here. The uutside is quite austere but inside is remarkably sunny and open, with the exception of the baths which are typical late 50s tiny. Best feature--laundry chute that sends dirty clothes directly from each floor to the laundry area. When she was little, my daughter loved to position herself by the washing machine to watch the dirty clothes come flying.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:44PM
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