When I was a kid, my parents referred to our basement play area as the “wreck” room. It made sense given the way my brother and I often used the space. It was only in my teens that I realized the name was actually the “rec room,” a truncation of recreational.

Whether they use it for recreation or other purposes, with the high cost of real estate, if they haven’t already, most homeowners are keen to take full advantage of every square foot of living space in their home. Here are some options on how you can help them do that below ground.

Home entertainment centre

Probably the number one choice for basement renovations is to add a home entertainment centre. Before you start building walls you’ll need to talk to your clients about the size of the TV screen they plan to install, all the accessories that need to be include (audio system, DVD player, project screens, etc.), and plan out the wiring system so it can be hidden.

While a booming sound system for the basement home entertainment system is great, it’s not so great if people in all the other parts of the house can hear it. Insulation in the wall cavities, covered by sound-rated drywall mounted on resilient channels will help keep the noise where it belongs.

A proper pub

A basement bar has long been a popular option. With many traditional English pubs closing, there’s a huge market of authentic bar paraphernalia available – you can even order an entire pub. If overseas shipping isn’t in the budget, there are a number of local sites where you can order everything from beer coasters to bar stools with your favourite team’s logo on them.

To add a modern twist, sites such Craig’s List and Kijiji also have a number of vintage arcade games and pinball machines up for grabs.

Nannies and grannies

Adding a bathroom and a bedroom to a basement provides multiple options for none recreational uses: living quarters for a live-in nanny, a new home for elderly parents who are no longer able to completely care for themselves, or even a rental unit to help offset mortgage costs.

Keep in mind that local building codes will require that if the space is rented out it will need to be fire separated from the rest of the house, and will require two means of egress (i.e. exits), usually in the form of a door, and an easily accessible window wide and high enough for an adult to fit through.

Flood protection

Regardless of use, the owners will want to protect their investment. If the basement is being dug down, odds are you’ll need to install a sump tank and bump to catch any water that seeps in behind the waterproofing membrane. And a backwater valve on the sewage line outfloow is a solid investment to protect any finished basement.

Pole Position

There’s one last item that more than one contractor we know has been ask to install in a client’s home: a stripper pole. With various ladies only clubs offering pole dancing classes as a unique form of exercise, maybe it’s just part of the modern home gym. The only question left is do you tell the neighbours the basement in unfinished, or invite them in for the show?

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