Expert Guide to Basement Remodeling in Chicago

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The level below is ripe with possibilities. Here is a roadmap—from materials and costs to the contractor’s role.

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Basement remodeling can be a great way to add extra living space to your home, especially if you live in a city like Chicago where space is at a premium. Whether you want to turn your basement into a family room, home office, or even a rental unit, there are plenty of options to choose from. However, a basement upgrade can also be a complex and challenging project. Sweeten lays out how to do your research and plan carefully before getting started.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering guidance, tools, and support—for free. Learn more about how Sweeten works

Safety comes first in plumbing, electrical, and structural

First, you’ll need to consider the layout of your basement and how you want to use the space. Do you want to create a single large open space, or divide the basement into smaller rooms or areas? Will you need to add or relocate electrical outlets, plumbing, or other utilities? Consult with your contractor or engineer to ensure that any changes you make to the layout are safe and structurally sound.

The best time to install new plumbing and electrical wiring is during a remodel of an existing space. Doing DIY work around the house is a great way to save money. However, installing plumbing and electrical wiring can be tricky. The risks are much higher if you don’t have the required skills or all of the proper tools. The same goes for plumbing. Pipe connections should be airtight, properly insulated, and clearly identified. A thorough test prior to use should be completed to avoid potentially hazardous situations. So it’s best to leave these trades to the professionals for safety reasons.

Permits and codes for basement remodeling in Chicago

One important aspect of updating subterranean levels is planning out the space to meet all relevant building codes and regulations. This includes the space having proper ventilation, fire sprinklers, and egress windows in case of emergencies. Obtain the necessary permits from the city before starting any work, and make sure to follow all code requirements to avoid any problems down the line.

Materials for a basement upgrade

Next, think about the finishes and materials you want to use in your basement remodel. If your basement is prone to dampness or flooding, choose water-resistant materials such as waterproof drywall, sealed concrete flooring, and moisture-resistant paint or wallpaper. Pay attention to the lighting on this lower level. It may be darker and require additional lighting fixtures or windows to bring in natural light.

Finding a general contractor in Chicago

Finally, understand the cost of your basement remodel. This will depend on the size and complexity of the project, as well as the materials and finishes you choose. Be sure to get multiple estimates from contractors before making a decision. We suggest setting aside a contingency fund in case any unexpected issues arise during the renovation process. 

Your contractor should be licensed and up-to-date on local code requirements. Sweeten can put you in touch with vetted general contractors in Chicago, who service your neighborhood, by posting your renovation project with us.

Costs in basement remodeling in Chicago

The most significant factors that affect the budget include:

  1. Labor: The cost of labor will depend on the complexity of the project and the hourly rate of the contractors or workers involved.
  2. Materials: The cost of materials for a basement remodel will depend on the type and quality of materials you choose. For example, using high-end materials like granite countertops or custom cabinetry will likely be more expensive than using standard materials.
  3. Permits: Depending on the scope, you may need to obtain various permits from the city of Chicago. The cost of these permits can vary widely depending on the nature of the work being done.
  4. Finishing: If you are finishing your basement to make it a livable space, you may need to install electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. These can add to the overall cost of the project.
  5. Special features: Adding special features like a home theater or a wet bar can also increase the budget.

It is difficult to give a precise estimate for the cost without knowing more about the specific project. But it is not uncommon for the costs to range from $10,000 to $50,000 or more. Schedule site visits with a few Sweeten contractors and request bids from those you’d like to hear more from.

New functions for extra square footage

When you’re ready to get started on your basement upgrade, work with Sweeten to renovate with the best contractors in Chicago. The right professional renovation team will guide you toward a rewarding and cost-effective way to add extra living space to your home.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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