Bonus room or finished basement?

homersmomAugust 13, 2009

We built our home 10 yrs. ago. The builder put a door at the end of the second floor hallway which leads to a room over the garage, but it's just in stud-form (no flooring or ductwork, etc.) We plan to be in this house for another 5-10 years and we really need more storage. I'm thinking that we should finish this room or the basement. Which do you think might be more appealing to a buyer - finished basement or bonus room? The house has 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. Thanks!

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cordovamom

I don't know what area of the country you live in -- but many areas of the country only above ground finished/heated space is counted as finished square footage. So if this is the case in your area, you're adding 400 or so square feet of finished/heated space to your home if you finish the bonus room. In those same areas of the country, although a finished basement might be desirable and command a higher price tag when selling, it isn't counted as finished square footage.

You may live in an area of the country that counts below grade finished space as square footage, so then the above argument would go out the window.

If you're finishing the basement and you can't put in egress to the outside, it would be of concern to me. Our finished bonus room above the garage has a window to the outside and we have an emergency ladder for egress in case of fire.

Also if the bonus room is finished with a window and closet, you may have the possibility in the future of using it as a bedroom and using the basement for storage.

Lots to consider, but you do have options!!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 11:04AM
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idrive65

A typical basement doesn't have great light or atmosphere, an exception being a walkout basement with a nice view. If I were a buyer I'd prefer a finished bonus room that I could use as I wish, and leave the basement for storage.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 11:41AM
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chisue

You aren't taxed on basement space where I live either.

Whichever you finish the fire code will require the room to have egress. I'd need to have a bathroom or half-bath that could be easily accessed from this space too.

If only family will use the space, it doesn't matter which you use. If others will use it, I'd prefer the basement. I don't want people trooping through my second floor hall.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 2:43PM
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thisishishouse

Since the access to the 'bonus room' is on the second floor (near the bedrooms, I presume), that limits the types of activities that could occur there. To be used as a rec space means people passing by private spaces to get there. Plus noise from the space would carryover to the bedrooms.

Another thing to potentially consider is ease of access for the storage space. It'd be much easier and quicker to move stuff from bedrooms to the storage space on the 2nd floor than to haul stuff to/from the basement.

We have our basement finished into a playroom, and it's great that all the toys and nonsense stays down there out of the rest of the house.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 2:51PM
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sweet_tea

When it is time to appraise/sell, the finished bonus room will most likely net you a much higher overall home price versus a finished basement.

This is because the finished bonus room should add legal finished sq footage to the home. The home appraises higher when there is more finished sq footage. To totally make it legal, go through all needed permits, follow code and make sure the taxing authority knows about the new sq footage. They will add this to your overall sq footage, which might make your tax bill go up(but realize the value of your home is going up as well).

If the bonus room is 400 sq ft, it could easily make the home worth $25k+ more than a finished basement of same space. Because in majority of cases, a finished basement will not net you the same dollar-per-sq-ft value of finished space as a bonus room.

If you choose to do the basement, realize it won't net you nearly as much in home value, due to the much much lower sq footage value of basement. This applies even if a walkout basement with nice view. I had a walkout basement with a gorgeous view and lots of full length windows and the appraiser told me they couldn't add more than $15/sq ft for basement even if finished.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 3:30PM
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newbuyer2007

Finishing the bonus room instead of the basement will probably get you more money when it comes time to sell. I am not sure why you would finish either if you're just going to use it for storage, though.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 12:03PM
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fruitgirl

In my own home, I'd personally rather have a finished basement rec room over a finished bonus room. I think it's more useful...like when the kids (our first is just 10 months old, so this is thinking long term) have friends over to spend the night, they have somewhere to go and be noisy and not disturb us!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 12:33PM
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cordovamom

"In my own home, I'd personally rather have a finished basement rec room over a finished bonus room. I think it's more useful...like when the kids (our first is just 10 months old, so this is thinking long term) have friends over to spend the night, they have somewhere to go and be noisy and not disturb us! "

You'd be surprised how quiet the bonus room over the garage is. Ours probably has a similar layout to the OP's...door all the way at the end of the hallway, over the garage. You hear absolutely nothing from that room when the door is closed. We have ours set up as a home theater and when we have people over playing Wii on the big screen, or watching a loud movie you hear nothing in the rest of the house.

Conversely in one of our previous homes the basement was set up as a play room, all the noise came right up the stairs and carried through out the home. So I think it depends on layout of the home as to which is quieter.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 1:12PM
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fruitgirl

I see your point--was the basement stairwell enclosed and have a door? If not, I can really see how the noise came up the stairs. However, I want a bathroom and wet bar (complete with mini fridge and microwave) in the basement. I know the kids would still be in and out of the bonus room to get drinks, use the restroom, etc. Unless the bonus room is also set up as a little suite.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 2:36PM
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thisishishouse

You'd be surprised how quiet the bonus room over the garage is. Ours probably has a similar layout to the OP's...door all the way at the end of the hallway, over the garage.

Well, the OP said it was a room over a garage, but more importantly they said:

The builder put a door at the end of the second floor hallway

The second floor is usually where the bedrooms are. If that's the case, probably not the best place for a rec room.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 2:49PM
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skatermom

What a great problem to have! We had a finished basement and now we have a bonus room...I sure miss the boys saying hey lets go play downstairs...extra space is so great for crafts, loud nosies, and there is flexibility on planning the space.

Be sure to consider HVAC issues for both...we put in a new zone when we finished the basement and it was so nice to have a warm basement in the winter...alternatively, our bonus room in the new hosue has terrible ductwrok and being over the garage is cold in the winter, hot in the summer,

Think carefully aobut your family, your climate and your lifetsyle before gonig either direction...hey maybe you can swing doing both as long as the drywall guy is comnig anyway!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 3:40PM
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cordovamom

We have 4 bedrooms on the same level as our bonus room!! However, because the door to the bonus room is all the way at the end of a long hallway noise from the bonus room/theater doesn't disturb any of the bedrooms. If the bonus room is in close proximity to bedrooms that's another issue for noise. Heating and cooling of the room over the garage is a bigger issue as skatermom pointed out. We have a dual zone system which addresses the room properly, but I know many with a finished bonus room that have the issue of being too cold or too hot because of it being over the garage.

fruitgirl -- the one playroom in the basement that gave us noise issues was due to layout. We had two ranches with basement play rooms that were quiet as could be and we loved that set up. However, we had a center hall colonial that basically had the playroom under the living room and even though it had a door at the top of the basement steps, the noise just seemed to rise. Again layout is everything, in that particular instance noise was a problem, in yours it may not be.

Of course if the OP is just using the space for storage, noise shouldn't be an issue in any event.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 4:36PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

Our tract home has the space over the garage as a large bonus room in most of the homes. When we bought from the developer, we could go for one or two rooms over the garage. We are one of the few homes that went for 2 rooms. One was to be a playroom, and one was going to be a guest room.

Noise goes down into the garage from these rooms and not into the rest of the house all that much. So neighbors tended to make these rooms for their teens.

Before the house was finished, we had a surprise baby, so one of the rooms became a bedroom and the other a guest room for 8 years. Later still it became a bedroom because it was larger and we turned the smallest bedroom into a guest room.

Those rooms are large and work well. One has a walk in closet with plumbing for a wet bar behind the drywall if anyone ever wants a bonus room.

I think you would get more for your money if you finish the room above the garage. If you turn it into two rooms, one cold be storage and the other a den or bedroom. Or you could build a nice walk in closet and use that for storage and still use the room itself for whatever purpose you might want.

I really do not like finished basements as much as the upstairs room. They are low in natural light and usually chilly and damp. Furthermore, they always feel like a basement, no matter how nicely they are finished.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 5:28PM
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sue36

"we really need more storage"

If all you need is storage, why "finish" the space?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 10:05PM
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homersmom

Thank you for all the responses. Since we're planning to finish only one of the rooms, I was just curious as to which one would add the most value to our home when we're ready to sell. I am pushing for the bonus room - need more space for my decorating addiction!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 9:06AM
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creek_side

Don't forget some buyers shop for homes with unfinished basements because they have their own plans for the basement (workshop, media room, whatever). They expect the price and taxes to reflect the unfinished state of the basement. A finished basement may turn off those buyers.

FWIW, in my experience most DIYers do a lousy job of finishing a basement. I'm not saying yours would be that way, but you may run into potential buyers who who feel the same way and have concerns regarding what is hidden behind the drywall.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 11:41AM
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chisue

There can be problems with any spaces that are far from wherever 'Mom' is. When the kids are very small they don't want Mom out of sight. When they're a little older Mom doesn't trust them to be where she can't see them! ("Why is it so *quiet* up/down there? What are you do-o-o-ing?")

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 12:25PM
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hadley

I would go for the room over the garage. In addition to adding more value to your home and more flexible-use space, it will be better for storage than a basement that might get musty. And certainly more pleasant for other activities like crafting, sewing, office work, study hall, etc.

Check your town's criteria for bedrooms. It could be that if you leave off putting a closet in at this time (easy to add later), it will not be taxed as a bedroom (which raises our rates more than a simple room).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 8:14PM
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homersmom

That's exactly why we're thinking of having it finished, Hadley. I have several pieces of furniture that I don't want to store in a room with severe temperature changes. The next owner could then use it as a bedroom if they chose to - it's near the second floor bathroom.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 4:24PM
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