How to Convert a Basement Into an Apartment

Turning your basement into a living space is an excellent way to house an aging parent, rebellious teenager or paying tenant.

Assess Your Basement's Condition

Basement apartments can be simple or elaborate.Basement apartments can be simple or elaborate.
The work required will depend on the basement's condition and size and factors such as moisture and natural light. Ceiling height is also a major consideration. Homeowners need to be realistic when considering converting a basement: Some basements, particularly in older houses, are not worth the trouble and expense.

Step 1

Take a good, hard look at your basement. Look for water, dampness, mold and mildew, and rot, and note any musty smells. These will need to be dealt with in order to make a pleasant and healthy living space.

Step 2

Check the ceiling heights in all parts of the basement, particularly at the bottom of the basement stairs, which is often a very low point, particularly in older houses. Check with your local building code, as some require a certain ceiling height for approved living spaces.

Step 3

Note the presence of all plumbing and electrical fixtures, and research how much addition, modification and upgrading these would require to make a livable space. Check the size and condition of your fuse box or breaker panel if it is in the basement.

Add a Kitchen and Bathroom

Step 1

Plumb in a kitchen sink and install it into a kitchen cabinet with a counter. Install a stove and a refrigerator. Be sure that the electrical circuits to the basement are sufficient to run these appliances. An electric stove will require a 240v circuit.

Step 2

Plumb in a toilet, a shower and a bathroom sink. If there is not a properly placed drain for these, you may need to build up the floor and run the drain to another location.

Step 3

Build walls around the bathroom and, if there is space, around the kitchen in order to make the space seem more like a home.

Finish the Walls, Floors and Ceilings

Step 1

Insulate the walls with rigid foam, and cover them with drywall. Paint the drywall a light color to brighten up the space and make it seem larger.

Step 2

Drywall the ceiling if it is covered with pipes and wires. Alternatively, install a dropped ceiling, or leave the beams exposed to add character.

Step 3

Finish the floor with tile or linoleum. Avoid wall-to-wall carpet and other absorbent textiles, as these will increase the chances of dampness and musty smells.

About the Author

Jagg Xaxx has been writing since 1983. His primary areas of writing include surrealism, Buddhist iconography and environmental issues. Xaxx worked as a cabinetmaker for 12 years, as well as building and renovating several houses. Xaxx holds a Doctor of Philosophy in art history from the University of Manchester in the U.K.