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The Inside Outside Guys ~ Add Space for the Holidays

From The Detroit News | By Ken Calverley and Chuck Breidenstein

DETROIT, November 9, 2023 ~ Do you have family coming over for the holidays?

Perhaps you’ve had a space crunch in years gone by when a lot of people are in your home for the day or even a weekend.

Adding on to your home can be a great value proposition, especially if you follow some basic design rules like DUO, which means down, up, and out.

From a cost perspective, it is generally less expensive to finish space in the lower level, a little more costly to expand upward using the same footprint, and yet even more money to extend the footprint of the home outward.


November 12, 2023 ~ Chuck “The Inside Guy” Breidenstein and Ken “The Outside Guy” Calverly offer the knowledge and resources you need to make the home of your dreams a reality. Catch them every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon on 760 WJR.


When you consider that, according to the National Association of Home Builders, only 20%-30% of new homes even have basements, it is a distinct advantage to have that space available to you.

When you finish a basement, you are taking advantage of pre-existing foundation and roof as well as mechanical systems. Such a project might yield up to a 70% return on investment when the house is sold, and appraisers tell us the home value may be improved 10% to 20% as well.

The story is told of a successful doctor in Arizona who had just completed his dream home except for the space enclosed by a walkout basement.

Repeated calls to contractors to submit proposals for finishing the space elicited a response along the lines of “We don’t do basements”.

The project eventually turned into a quarter-million-dollar space, and this was several decades ago!

Converting below grade space to habitable living quarters costs homeowners a national average of around $20,000 for each completed project.

The actuality is that it can cost less or a lot more depending on scope of the job and the specification completed.

Bathrooms and kitchens designed into these spaces certainly cost more, but the value added in convenience and resale can be great.

Realtors will tell us that the additional space below grade is not included in the marketing materials as “finished” space, even though it may meet all code and cultural requirements for habitability.

Appraisers will also tell us that the “Gross Living Area” they calculate typically includes only contiguous, conditioned space above grade.

But buyers love well designed and finished below grade spaces and there is little question about the improved living experience when a family has additional areas to enjoy.

The trick to doing this right is to first realize not every contractor understands the nuance of finishing such spaces, and it is definitely not a DIY for many people.

Steve Iverson, from Finished Basements Plus in Commerce Township, tells us that first assuring the space will remain leak free over time remains a priority before a project is begun.

Part of the design such professionals will consider is air quality and humidity control in the finished space.

Trapped moisture behind finished walls from humidity wicking through basement walls and floors can create havoc with the space, and a professional company will consider all aspects of this when specifying framing and finish materials as well as how there are installed.

Another of the many considerations is what the industry calls “egress,” which is a means of both entry and exit.

The primary means of egress for most basements is the stairway from above, but a secondary means is required for living spaces and any sleeping areas. Egress can be achieved through a door or appropriate window to the outside.

The holidays are right around the corner.

Consider making the call today to a professional company that can not only enhance the living experience of being in your own home, but can also add value to the real estate.

Professionals like those you’ll find at InsideOutsideGuys.com.


For housing advice and more, listen to “The Inside Outside Guys” every Saturday and Sunday on 760 WJR from 10 a.m. to noon, or contact them at InsideOutsideGuys.com.