1. Expect a payback. Finishing a basement can be a good investment. According to cost versus value surveys conducted annually by Remodeling magazine, the average return on investment for a basement project nationally is currently around 75 cents on the dollar. And a basement project is also likely to add new functionality to your home: more bedrooms, more efficient storage, and more space to entertain.
2. Flex DIY muscle. Even though plumbing and wiring are best left to professionals, framing walls, installing insulation, and hanging drywall should be within the capabilities of experienced do-it-yourselfers. Remember to line up proper building permits first; failure to do so could result in delays.
3. Let there be light. Where possible, plan for windows and doors. Make sure openings are cut before other work begins, and seal off the rest of the house from the resulting masonry dust. Before creating any new windows or doors, have a building professional make sure the surrounding walls can take on the increased structural load.
4. Give everyone a hand. Create beautiful and safe access to your remodeled basement. Beef up walls supporting handrails, and keep handrails in place after the building inspector has signed off on the project.
5. Evaporate moisture worries. Merely installing a dehumidifier can actually create problems by drawing water through foundation walls. Ensure good drainage off your roof and away from your foundation, provide good ventilation of bathrooms and kitchens to the outside, and don't open windows during humid months. Along with breathable insulation, a vapor retardant should be installed between interior stud walls and floors, and between foundation walls and floor slabs.