Unfinished basements may be one of the most under-utilized spaces in Seattle-area homes.

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Q: Where can we look to maximize our home’s interior space?

A: If you’re short on livable space in your existing home, there may be a solution directly beneath your feet. Unfinished basements may be one of the most under-utilized spaces in Seattle-area homes.

It’s not surprising. The basements in older Seattle homes weren’t built with comfort and entertainment in mind. They were places where the washing machine lived and where you stored stuff that you only needed occasionally (or just hadn’t gotten around to throwing out). They were dark, damp and not very welcoming.

The thing is, there is usually a significant amount of usable space in the basement — if it’s remodeled correctly. However, if you want it to be used on a regular basis, you’re going to have to do more than throw an area rug on the concrete floor, drag a sofa down and put an old television down there.

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What will it cost you to do it right? The answer depends on the particulars of your renovation. If you have to do plumbing and wiring, it may cost a bit more. In the Seattle area, you’ll want to pay attention to moisture control. But if you handle things like that correctly, the options for using that “wasted” space are pretty impressive.

Be sure also to research the many ways you can take advantage of the extra space before settling or rushing into a quick-fix renovation.

What is remodeling your basement going to cost? The national average for a midrange basement remodel project runs between $90 and $120 per square foot. You can use that figure to calculate a ballpark figure for your particular space. But when you compare that to the cost of extending the footprint of your existing home (if code will even allow it), it’s a bargain.

If you’re in a jam for space, don’t throw your hands up. Instead, take a look down and talk to a design-build remodeler about how to get the most out of the unused space you already have.

Brooks Powell is the general manager of  Powell Homes and Renovations and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the MBA’s weekly column. If you have a home  improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.