Finished Basements – Project Planning for Full-value ROI

Planning for a new finished basement involves much more important details than just how the new living space will be utilized. It is essential to be aware of how to earn full-value ROI, or return on investment.

To achieve full-value ROI, the project will need to be documented according to the requirements of adding new finished living square footage to the property’s deed. To accomplish this, project permits will need to be pulled from the local government, before the project starts. 

Further, at the end of the project, a certificate of occupancy (or COO) or certificate of completion (or CO) must be issued by the local government, upon completion of the project and subsequent approval of all inspections.

These critical factors for planning a finished basement go beyond the planned use of the space, and will result in obtaining full-return on investment, or ROI – resulting in an increase in the value of your home.

Unfortunately the fact is a lot of homeowners overlook this – or are simply not knowledgeable of the importance of pulling permits and obtaining a COO, in order to have the new living space square footage added to the value of the home.  This process – which can be guided by an experienced professional contractor, is simple but imperative for reaping the rewards of a new finished basement when the home is resold.

Planned Use of the Space for Full-value ROI

The best ROI for a new finished basement is when the project is planned as an entire new level of living space.  This means that the area is fully finished including flooring or carpeting, with room recessed lighting, and with switch and outlet settings as required by the National Electric Code. In addition, to get top dollar on the return on investment for your new finished basement renovation, include a powder room or a full bath into the floor plan.

Obtaining Permits and a COO – Certificate of Occupancy

In summary, to achieve full-value ROI on your finished basement project, be sure to either pull the permits or make sure your contractor pulls the permits. Two means of ensuring the professional contractor acquires the permits are – 

  1. Request there is language in the proposal and/or on the contract.
  2. Request that the contractor gives you copies of the permit application – and copies of all permits once they are received by the local government. Typically, the copies of the permits are required to be posted at the job site as well.

Also, you can call your local township or borough or city planning department, and ask them for the permit requirements. In short, you can work hand-in-hand, as a team member with your contractor.

In short, the permits usually needed for a finished basement renovation are – General Building Permit, Electrical Permit, Plumbing Permit, and HVAC Permit. 

A thorough permit process is the sure way to make sure all work is done per updated code requirements.  This is why you need to hire a professional contractor, instead of a family member or friend of the family.

And to reiterate, once the project is completed, be certain to secure a hard copy and/or digital copy of the certificate of occupancy or certificate of completion. 

In closing, remember your local government is paid by public taxes and your own property taxes. Local government officials – inspectors and administrative personnel, are public servants. They are usually very happy to help homeowners and to educate you about the policies and procedures the township, borough, or city requires for residential project permits. 

So simply pickup the phone and call, or email, your local government as one of the first orders of business in the planning stage of your new finished basement remodel. By taking charge of this process, you will satisfy the objective for achieving full-value ROI on your home improvement projects.

All the best for a successful – and fruitful – finished basement remodel! 

Upcoming Blog on Finished Basements – Design Considerations

In my next blog on finished basements, I will write about design considerations, and how to overcome various limitations of existing conditions such as – no windows, small casement windows, cold concrete flooring, and other typical limitations in existing or old finished basements.