Pros and Cons of a Basement Master Suite


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Basement master suites provide more privacy. They are cool in summer, but cold and costly to heat in winter. You can have a large suite and resale values are enhanced but installing and maintaining the basement master suite can be expensive. There is little natural light. You lose storage space.

Pros of a basement master suiteCons of a basement master suite
More privacy from neighborsCold in the winter
More privacy from the rest of the houseCostly to heat
Cool in summerHumidity and damp are real problems
Allows a larger master suiteVentilation is more important yet more difficult to achieve
Natural darkness is ideal for sensitive sleepers and shift workersLack of natural light is not always good
Finished basements add resale valueLoss of storage space for large appliances
Installation and repairs are costly
You have to install emergency egress points
pros and cons of basement master suite

Pros of a Basement Master Suite

More Privacy From Neighbors

Let’s face it, as much as we all hope there are no prying eyes, windows seem to be a big “look at me” sign.

Sometimes our windows are a little too close to the windows next door. In general, the close living found within a neighborhood means that you are probably going to have to take some steps to ensure your privacy.

A master suite in the basement is a good way to ensure that your bedroom and bathroom are private spaces.

Maybe this is slightly less so with a walk-out basement, but the vantage point of a basement means it’s harder to have accidental peeping-Tom incidents. Also, in the basement you are likely to have the space to make a walk-in closet, which you can ensure is a private space for changing and getting ready to go out.

Can Feel More Private From Rest of House

While we like to think that guests don’t wander around upstairs, there is a bigger chance of people going upstairs (to use the bathroom, visit your kids, etc.) People are far less likely to go down to the basement where there is only the master suite.

In addition, the feeling of privacy is furthered by the noise-dampening effect of being underground. It gives a sense of sanctuary by being able to get away from the noise of the neighborhood and traffic.

Cooler in Summer

Basements are naturally cool rooms. Being underground means that any heat in the room will quickly disperse into the surrounding ground. Not only that, but as the lowest point of the house, it is a magnet for the sinking cold air.

It is not going to take much effort to keep your bedroom cool and you can even employ methods to share the cool air with the rest of the house. You can discover how to do this in my article on How To Move Cold Basement Air Upstairs.

Usually Means a Larger Room

The first and second floors are prime real estate in a house, which means there are often limitations to the size of your master suite.

The basement is a more under-utilized area, and with fewer demands on the space, you can make your master suite as large as the basement will allow.

You might even have space to install that walk-in closet you wanted or a private sitting area.

The space you have to work with as well as the process of finishing the basement would allow you to personalize the master suite more. You can really make the space special and custom-fit.

Basement suite larger than the upper floors

Naturally Dark Room

If you enjoy having a dark room for sleeping, then the lack of natural light in basements will be an advantage for you.

Night-shift workers may also appreciate the darkness of a bedroom in the basement to help with good sleep.

Finished Basements Add to Resale Value

Your master suite in the basement is unlikely to come cheap, however, you are going to see that compensation if or when you decide to sell your house.

A finished basement looks nicer and generally means less cost on the buyer’s side to fix up.

However, your biggest selling point is going to be the bathroom. A bathroom is a commodity and is always desirable to buyers, especially if that bathroom is well-finished.

If you have a walk-out basement that can have full windows and potentially even doors installed, then you are looking at a large increase in your resale value.

Related article: Can I Use a Basement Floor Drain for a Shower?

Cons of a Basement Master Suite

Cold in Winter

A basement is below ground, and while good for minimizing noise it is not so good for heating.

So, if you live in an area with hot summers you are going to have a great night’s sleep. However, this is a different story in winter when you want any extra heat you can get.

It will take no small amount of effort and planning to make sure that your basement doesn’t turn into an icebox.

Unfortunately, the lack of sun infiltration into the basement also means that there is no source of natural heating for the room. If you want to get heat in the basement, you are going to need to use appliances and ventilation systems.

Increased Cost for Heating

With the heat loss in your basement, you are going to have to spend extra to install the appliances in your basement and house to help keep the room warm.

You may need to install vents, fans, heaters, and you are likely going to require a professional to manage the pressure systems within your house ventilation system.

A good investment will be underfloor heating. Basement floors are cold and it makes a world of differences if you have underfloor heating for your bedroom and bathroom area. This is an extra cost to your renovations though.

Related article: Is Bathroom Underfloor Heating Worth it?

Humidity/Damp Issues

Basements at large are renowned for dealing with a lot of moisture.

The humidity and dampness that come with the territory are going to cause similar problems as they do in bathrooms: mold, mildew, structural and fixture damage, and it will leave your basement with a musty smell.

This means that you are going to have to invest in good ventilation for your master suite and you might need to consider certain fixtures and finishes within the space to make it more resilient.

Ventilating Bathrooms is More Difficult and Important

A well-ventilated bathroom is important as it promotes good airflow, helps with odor control, and prevents damage in the room due to the humidity that comes with showering and bathing.

Your walls, paint, fixtures, cabinets, and ceiling could sustain water damage if your bathroom is not ventilated properly. You are also going to encounter some unwanted guests in the form of mold and mildew.

Now, add the normal ventilation issues with bathrooms on to the fact that basements themselves have humidity and damp issues. Bathrooms can even cause humidity difficulties in adjoining rooms, so ventilation is a step you do not want to skip.

Ventilating a bathroom from a basement is difficult as it must vent outside, however, the ceiling of this floor is the first floor. It is possible to ventilate the below-ground bathroom (which is not allowed to vent into the attic), but it will likely cost more, and you will probably need professional help.

Little to No Natural Light

Some basements do have windows, and you might be able to install them if yours doesn’t. However, it is a fact that sunlight infiltration into a basement will be minimal due to all the obstructions on ground level: fences, plants, etc.

This also means that without sufficient artificial lighting, the space will be very dark. This may not be every person’s cup of tea.

Two Small Windows in the Dark

Lost Space for Large Appliances

Basements are a popular place to install some of your larger appliances such as water heaters, washers, dryers, and furnaces.

If you choose to renovate your basement as your master suite, then you are going to lose that space for appliances. If your house has some of these appliances in the basement already, you will have to move whatever you aren’t prepared to have in your bedroom or bathroom.

You are going to be losing a lot of storage space in general, so you need to be prepared to make an alternative place in other areas of the house or leave a portion of the basement for general storage.

Cost of Repairs and Replacements

With a finished basement, you are likely going to have to call in a professional any time you need something fixed or replaced. You are also likely going to have to deal with the need to cut into walls, floors, and finishes in order to expose pipes and wiring systems.

This means that your repair and replacement costs are going to be higher, and you are going to have to spend extra to make the space look good again.

Cost of Installing Emergency Egress Points

Egress windows (or alternative approved egress points) are required if you use the basement as a bedroom.

The risk of a basement comes if you have a single internal entrance. You need to have an alternative exit to outside (yard or street) the house for emergencies.

For installing an egress window, you are looking at a range of pricing depending on multiple factors including what state you live in. A rough estimate is:

  • $2,000-$5,000 for professional installation.
  • $500-$1,000 for installing it yourself if you have the necessary knowledge.

Related article: Pros and Cons of Basement Bedrooms

Sources

https://www.natalebuilders.com/blog/is-a-finished-basement-right-for-you

https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-a-basement-apartment-245177

https://www.theplancollection.com/house-plan-related-articles/pros-and-cons-of-basement-foundations

https://www.wcmanet.org/egress-window-cost/

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