Living Spaces

Since COVID swept through Minnesota, we’ve asked much more of our homes. People have been working from home and their children may be learning from home. Entertaining is down, but the need for family entertainment features, ventilation, easy clean surfaces, separation and outdoor living spaces have spiked.

COVID has encouraged many homeowners to rethink their space. For some, the solution is to bump out or up with an addition. Others have opted to make better use of their existing space by refinishing the basement or repurposing rooms.

Basements – When considering a basement remodel, begin by measuring and mitigating radon and moisture problems.  You may need to remove strips of  floor to install drain tile,  a sump pump under the slab  and connect a continuous radon exhaust fan before you finish surfaces. Spray foam insulation will warm walls and rim joists and block moisture. Consider adding a code-approved egress window for safety and natural light, especially if you are planning a bedroom. If HVAC  obstructs headroom it may be possible to install  wider but shallower ducts to gain height. Gas fireplace is a popular for supply supplemental heat, but in-floor hydronic heat is even better when headroom allows. The closer you can keep a new bathroom, wet bar or laundry to the main plumbing stack the easier and more economical it will be.

Attic conversions -- Finishing an attic is not as simple as installing wallboard and flooring. The floor framing needs to be able to support the weight, the stairway safe and headroom sufficient.  Secondary egress also is critical for safety. Special care should be taken to insulate without blocking ventilation from the eaves to the ridge.

Side additions -- Additions require careful considerations both indoors and out. Most communities  set minimum setback distances between structures and property lines and limit the percentage of hardcover to control water runoff. Additions should look as though they were planned when the home was built or as a accents that are compatible with the home’s architecture and the neighborhood. Also consider how an addition will impact the existing space in terms of natural light and traffic flow. It often is better (and less costly) to reimage underutilized living space than to add on.