Life in Portland Blog

Easy PDX Basement Renovations You Can Do on a Budget


Is Your PDX Basement Everything You Want It to Be?

Portland is known for its charming bungalow and mid-century style homes. Whether you walk, bike, bus or drive, it's likely you've marveled at the craftsmanship of homes in any given Portland neighborhood. Underneath many of these homes, what you don't see, is the basement.

Many Portland homes come with an unfinished basement, and these spaces are full of renovation potential. Basement remodels, unlike garage conversions, don't require concern over roof height or driveway reconfigurations. And unlike attic remodels, basement renovations don't mandate dormers or reinforced flooring to bear additional weight.

Navigating Basement Remodels in Portland

So what holds people back from starting an easy basement renovation project? According to the City of Portland, most basements were not designed as living space; therefore, converting a basement into an apartment or second home requires building permits (ranging from electrical, mechanical, to plumbing) and seismic considerations, all depending on the scope of work.

For those of us who are not architects or builders, navigating city code is a complex process that may not be worth the time and research. However, there are a number of easy Portland basement renovations you can do on a dime.

Starting Your Portland Basement Renovation

Prior to purchasing any materials and spending any time on physical labor, the first step in starting an easy basement renovation is to determine how you will use the space.

Are you converting your basement into a gym, or are you designing a flexible office space? Are you remodeling your lower space to serve as storage, or are you hoping to create a livable apartment? Understanding how you want your basement space to function will impact your renovation process, from the budget to the time it will take to complete the project.

Live/Work Space Basement Renovations

If you're planning to remodel your basement into a live/work space (think flexible office or a place for guests visiting from out of town), there are budget-friendly ways to renovate your space.

Start with the walls. Basement walls, often concrete and dismal, separate the basement from feeling like part of the home. An easy remodel solution? Paint those concrete or cinder block walls! With a simple coat of paint, preferably something light or bright, you will brighten up your subterranean space and help offset the lack of natural light that may be a drawback to spending more time in this part of your home.

Another way to add light? Brighten your basement space with some garden lighting. Most unfinished basements have a single pull-chain light and very few electrical outlets, yet industrial string lights only require one outlet. With several strings of lights, you can add life and ambiance to your basement live/work space.

And if you are planning to use your basement as a workspace, you can also add aesthetically pleasing dividers to create dedicated and individual spaces within the room. While permanent walls require permits, tax assessments, and inspections, pallet dividers create visual separation without the hassle, and can be a great solution on a budget.

Basement Workshop Renovations

As a city celebrates DIY culture, Portland basements are the perfect place to set up a do-it-yourself workshop. Make your basement workshop remodel easy by keeping the concrete floor as-is, which will ultimately make clean up easier. Add shelving and pegboard to your unfinished basement's open studs and rafters, and you'll have a perfect workshop in your own home.

Whether you decide to convert your basement into a gym or a home theater space, know that there are easy budget-friendly ways to remodel your basement – without the hassle of permits. The possibilities are endless, so start dreaming up ways you can reinvent your Portland basement space today!