The 30-year-old home we bought in Columbus two years ago is too small for us now. I want to know which is a better investment on a home addition, a finished basement or a new bedroom? I'm not aware of any structural problems, which is good, but I don't want to open a can of trouble with a basement unless there's a good return in terms of home value. Any suggestions?
Jerry B. ~ Columbus, Ohio
Jerry, I think you would be better off adding another bedroom to your home instead of finishing the basement. When trying to determine the increased home value of an addition such as this, I try to consider what the next buyer of a house may want or what they may find valuable when purchasing a home. Also, if you add a bedroom onto your home, you are increasing the above-ground square footage of the house and increasing the number of bedrooms, which are both factors used by appraisers and real estate agents when determining the value of a property. Increased square footage and an additional bedroom should increase the apparent value of your home, to both a buyer or an appraiser, more than a finished basement might.
If you have the lot space, adding a bedroom onto your home can be pretty straight forward, as opposed to remodeling a basement which can present a whole new set of challenges and potential problems. Basements need adequate light, proper ventilation, correctly sized ingress/egress windows, and must be water tight to avoid moisture problems like mold and musty odors. Even when a finished basement has all of these "necessities", keep in mind that some people(like a future buyer) just don't like the feel of living space when it is below ground. Also a future buyer of your home may see value in an unfinished basement, because then they can finish the basement the way they want. A future buyer may not see much value in your finished basement if you have installed a home theater and they need an exercise room or a kids play area.
You may want to visit with some contractors who work in the Columbus area and get their opinions about your specific house and lot. There may be property line set-backs and other zoning regulations which determine how big of addition you can construct, and it is important to understand all of these factors before beginning your remodeling project. Good luck!