A basement can be a great asset for a house, as long as it has been properly maintained. Buyers must be able to determine if the owner has taken precautions; it is crucial to keep the basement sealed from the outside elements.
Identifying potential problems can take a savvy eye or a professional home inspector. There are still some tell-tale signs you can look for when determining whether a basement will be a boon or a hassle.
The most persistent problem a basement could face is intruding moisture. Basements are the lowest level of gravity in a house. They are typically surrounded by dirt on most sides. These two factors mean that if water will come in anywhere in the home, it will probably be the basement.
When looking for water damage, some telltale signs include:
- Drip lines
- Stains or discoloration on the walls, ceilings or floor
- Water spots
- Dark areas near windows or on the ceiling
- Musty smell
- Cracks in the outside walls
Where there is moisture, there could be mold. Mold is difficult to remove, especially if it has grown under carpets, in walls or up in the ceiling.
Check for common areas of mold growth in:
- Low points, especially near floor drains
- In ceiling tiles
- Behind soft walls
- Under carpets or rugs
A professional sterilizing team can clean out any mold they find and help you waterproof the basement to prevent further issues. You can also buy mold resistant walls, paints and caulks to stop the problem.
Many basements will be “unfinished” but are still usable as storage or a utility room. Take the time to assess how you want to use your basement area. Ask the current owners questions (if you can) about how they used their basement to determine if it can be used for your purposes.
Your agent will also be able to determine what limitations you could face when trying to use your basement or finishing it yourself.
Everyone’s definition of a “finished” basement differs, as does whether or not a finished basement counts in the square footage of a home. Generally, “below grade” rooms lower than the home’s entrance do not count for square footage unless there is a “walk out” exit directly from the basement to the exterior.
If you have the opportunity, ask the home sellers how much time they spent in their basement and who performed the work to finish it. If they were able to spend lots of time downstairs or even have someone’s bedroom located there, you should have no issues doing the same.
Your real estate professional should be able to provide you with advice on a basement’s condition and how its value should be factored into the home. If you need an agent who can help you find a functional basement in one of the UBC homes for sale, take a look at our buyer's page. We would be happy to find a home that meets your needs.