How to Turn a Basement to a Man Cave: a Complete Guide


If you have a basement that is unfinished that you use for storage, you can turn that basement into an ultimate man cave. If you want to have a place where you can relax, spend time with your buddies, and escape your hectic work schedule for a brief moment in time, you should definitely consider having a man cave. Depending on the size of your basement, you can create a space designed for you to relive your stress and replenish your mind.

To turn your existing basement into the man cave of your dreams, follow these steps, and experience the freedom you once had in the comfort of your man cave:

STEP 1: Preparation

Prepare your basement for a little remodeling. This step will include the process of finishing your basement and make it a livable space. The first thing you need to do is talk about it with your partner. You should explain the reasons why you need a man cave. Your spouse will need to confirm the decisions your making, so you would probably be able to reach a compromise if you give the right reasons. Here are a couple of arguments you may tell your partner:

  • IT IS GOOD FOR A RELATIONSHIP

You can inform your partner that it is proven that giving your spouse a little space to express themselves as an individual can be healthy for a relationship. People before getting married had their own identity. Once the person gets married, they tend to lose their individuality. It is suitable for a relationship to allow each other their personal space before they will actually demand it.

  • RELIEVE STRESS

Being the man of the house can be taxing. Of course, spending time with the wife and kids can relieve stress too, but sometimes having time for yourself is another way you can escape your problems even for a brief period. Having a place of your own is an excellent way to take your mind off things.

  • IF ALL ELSE FAILS, ALLOW YOUR PARTNER TO HAVE THEIR OWN SORT OF MAN CAVE

If none of your arguments work, you can always agree to give your spouse the same deal. You can give your spouse their own type of man cave. Man caves for women are commonly referred to as she sheds. Women need personal time as well. So, if you really want the man cave, allow your partner to have one as well.

To learn more about reasons to get a man cave, click here.

Preparation will also include inspection of the basement. First, you will have to identify and find any hidden issues in your basement structure. If you skip this step, you might run into problems later in the process which will sum up to more work. There are numerous issues you can find in the basement construction, especially in older houses. Some basements experience water issues, mold issues, and overall structural issues that you need to deal with beforehand. It is better to deal with these issues first before finishing the entire basement and turning it into an additional living space.

After identifying the issues, you will need to address them. Any minor problems such as cracks on the foundations can be quickly done even before you start remodeling. If your basement is prone to flooding and leaks, you can address these issues by waterproofing the area.

Waterproofing

  • Make sure your downspouts are pointed in a different direction away from the walls of your basement.
  • Wrap the pipes and air ducts in your basement with insulating foam.
  • Plan to build a drainage system and sump pump. You will have to do this part after you get all the required permits.

Determine the Weather Conditions

After you address the minor issues in your basement, you will now determine the weather conditions and temperature of your basement. If your basement gets extremely cold in the winter, you will need to add heating to your list of procedures when it is time for remodeling. Your remodel project should make the space cozy and livable.

Plan a Fire Escape

In most states, a legal living space is required to have a fire escape. You can place a fire escape through one of your basement windows. If you do not have a window in your basement, you should consider getting one for ventilation. Make sure you seal the windows properly to avoid water from coming in.

Outline the Project

Before getting your permits, you will need to outline the project. Working with electricity, plumbing, mechanical, and construction will require four separate licenses. You should sketch all the plans. The plan should be written up to the smallest detail so you can lock down a permit.

Obtain the Permits

  • Building Permit

You will need the building permit for working on the structure and architectural elements of your basement. A building permit will cover the flooring, walls, stairs, and windows of the project. Basically, the building permit allows you to work on the permanent fixes you will need to build in finishing a basement.

  • Electrical Permit

All electrical installations, including rewiring and addition of outlets and switches, will require an electrical permit. Having this permit will ensure the safety and legality of the procedure. Once you get the license, you can now start working on the project. Remember, do not finish the walls and flooring after doing all the wiring.  When it is time for inspection, all the wires and circuits are best to be visible.

  • Plumbing Permit

You will need a plumbing permit if you will be working on the plumbing. If you plan on building a bathroom in your man cave, a license like this is necessary. You might need this permit for installing a sump pump or better yet, an indoor hot tub. When you draw your outline for getting a plumbing permit, make sure you point out the locations of all fixtures. Write a specific sketch up to the final detail.

  • Mechanical Permit

You will need a mechanical permit for installing any appliances associated with air conditioning and ductwork. When finishing a basement, you will need proper ventilation to prevent any mold buildup and to protect the integrity of the appliances you will store in the basement. In your draft, indicate the location of your existing furnace and air ducts. You will also need to mention any new tubes you are planning to add.

If you are planning to do all the work by yourself, make sure you have experience working with electrical, plumbing and using power tools. You can ask a friend for help because some of these jobs are not easy to do by yourself. If you plan on hiring a professional, they can do all the work for you. It will cost more, but you wouldn’t have to go through all the hard work, including the paperwork.

STEP 2: Decide the purpose

To prepare an overall budget, you will have to decide on what activities your man cave will include. It can either have a bar, a pool table, a home theater, or all of these. If you have enough space, you can build a man cave that focuses on two or more activities. Here are some man cave ideas to give you an idea:

  • HOME THEATER

The size of the TV should be fit for the distance of viewing. A TV that is too big will not give you the experience you are looking for. For 1080p TVs, the suggestedinterval for watching is the TV size multiplied by 2.5. If you have a 65-inch TV, the correct distance should be at 162.5 inches. (13 1/5 feet) 4K resolution TVs have a different formula. Instead of multiplying the TV size by 2.5, you multiply it by 1.5. The right distance for a 65-inch 4K UHD TV is 97.5 inches. (8 feet)

  • BAR

A bar can either be in a small man cave or a big man cave. The size will depend on how many people will you accommodate. A bar area big enough for four people should be at least 112 by 105 inches. Don’t forget you will have to consider the other bar equipment and shelves.

  • ART STUDIO

A pure art studio can be small or big, depending on how big the pieces you plan on working on. If you paint on a canvass, you will need space for a stand and the canvass. Allow extra space for your finished pieces. You can also use a wall to hang some of them for display and save space.

  • GYM

Your man cave can be a place where you can set up a gym for physical fitness. The physical activity can benefit your health and wellness, which is very important for your body. Depending on the size of your space, you can put a punching bag, a treadmill, and some weights.

  • AUTOMOTIVE

For automotive purposes, your man cave will need space for your car or motorcycle and extra space for tools. You will also need a little bit of space to work on your project cars. A single garage space is 12’ by 22’. Multiplying that by ½ should be enough space to work with. 18 feet by 33 feet should be enough space to work on a single car or motorcycle.

STEP 3: Prepare a Budget

Now that you have prepared the basement for remodeling, you should have an idea of what materials you need at this point. To save money, you can use appliances that you already have such as an extra TV, furniture, and other decorations. The average cost for finishing a basement is around $30 to $50 per square feet. A 500 square-foot basement will cost approximately $20,000 to complete. This is just a rough estimate for an open layout. This cost will only cover the remodeling, not the games. Here is a list of items you will spend money on:

  • HVAC system
  • Wall Materials
  • Drainage Materials
  • Electrical and Plumbing Equipment
  • Flooring Materials
  • Labor
  • Appliances
  • Games

STEP 4: Execution

At this point, you have almost everything planned out. You have all the permits, bought all the materials, appliances and some games. The very first thing to execute in this process is treating the room with proper ventilation, a drainage system, and adding heat.

Ventilation

To make an area in the house, such as a basement a livable space, you will need proper ventilation. You will need to install windows, a fire escape, or add an HVAC system. An HVAC system will help deal with the humidity, ventilation, and air conditioning of a room. You would not want any mold and mildew buildup in your man cave. You also need proper ventilation so you can protect your man cave equipment.

Drainage system

A drainage system can solve all your flooding problems in your basement. It does not help waterproof a basement, but it will drain the water that comes in the basement to prevent floods. You can install a sump pump, a drainage system, or both.

Drainage Installation

TOOLS NEEDED

  • DRILL
  • HAMMER
  • LEVEL
  • TAPE MEASURE
  • UTILITY KNIFE
  • SHOVEL
  • JACKHAMMER or PICKAXE
  • PVC PIPES
  • PERFORATED TUBES
  • QUICK DRY CEMENT
  • GRAVEL
  • STEPS FOR INSTALLATION
  • Mark the path of the draining pipes

The pipes should run at about 1 foot away from the exterior walls. Place the sump or basin in the place that absorbs the most moisture.

  • Dig out the basement floor along the path

You need to dig out the trench at about 8 inches wide and 18 inches deep. You can use a pickaxe or a jackhammer (if you have one) to break through the flooring. Later, dig the soil with a shovel or pale.

  • Level the trench

The trench should go at a downward angle towards the basin. This method will allow the water to flow down the drain quickly. Use a level to make sure you get the right downward corner.

  • Place the piping into the trench

When you place the French drain piping, make sure the perforations are facing down on the soil so the water can easily find its way to the holes.

  • Connect the piping to the basin or sump

After laying down all the pipes in places, make sure you connect all the pipes to the sump pump. The sump pump will later drain the water to the soil underneath the house or a deep well.

  • Fill the trench with water drainage gravel

The water drainage gravel will allow water to seep down the holes of the piping that flows down to the basin. Do not pack the gravel tight so the water can flow downwards.

  • Seal the trench

You can now seal the trench system with your choice of cement. You can use quick-dry adhesive for this step. Wait for it to dry before testing out the complete drainage system.

Sump Pump Installation

  • Dig the sump pit

Before digging the sump pit, you must know the size of the actual sump pump first. You need to determine where the water builds up the most and use that for your location for your sump pit. You will need a pickaxe or jackhammer to penetrate the concrete floor. Make sure to wear the right safety gear, such as gloves and eye protection.

  • Install the sump pump

Once you are finished digging up the hole, you can now install the sump pump. First, set up the basin if you have one because some sump pumps do not require a basin. You can add gravel to snug the basin or sump pump. If you previously installed a drainage system, make sure all the trenches will lead down the sump pit location.

  • Complete the discharge pipe

Use a PVC pipe to connect it to the open end of the check valve. Use glue to attach the PVC elbow to lead the water piping toward the basement foundation wall. Make sure you repeat this process and pipe down a suitable distance for water to flow down in a deep range.

  • Test the newly installed pump

Now you can test out the sump pump by plugging it in a GCFI-protected outlet. Pour a bucket of water to activate the automated functions of the pump. The sump pump should turn on if it reaches the specified water level. To maintain the sump pump, you will need to clean any debris out of the pit from time to time.

Heating the Basement

There are numerous ways you can do to keep heat your basement, especially in locations that experience freezing cold winters. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Fireplace

There is nothing cozier than building a fire to heat a place in the home. For most famous man caves, a furnace will fit the theme. A fireplace will not only give the heat that you need, but it is also very relaxing to the eyes when you stare at it while enjoying the warmth. When choosing a fireplace, make sure you want an efficient one that is easy to start up, so it will not be very troublesome for you.

  • Heated Floors

One of the better advantages of radiant heat floorings in a basement is the elimination of large radiators for heating. You can use the extra space for more man cave activities. It works for all floor coverings such as hardwood, vinyl, or carpet. Radiant heat flooring may be expensive but is a better way to improve the air quality in your basement. Using radiant heat flooring will minimize dust circulation, which lessens dust mites and allergens in the air.

  • Sunlight

Another inexpensive method to heat the basement is by letting sunlight pass through. You can do this by strategically installing windows where the sun can reach. Basements are usually above ground level, so windows can still be relevant. When you are finishing the basement, make sure you install sufficient windows. Place the windows strategically will maximize the light and get some fresh air flowing inside the room. Natural light can give a brighter and lively ambiance, and you will save money on your electricity bill.

  • Portable Space Heaters

Being ultra-compact than most portable air conditioners, These portable space heaters are more energy efficient. Because portable space heaters are only designed for one task, this makes them an inexpensive solution for heating an area in your basement. Make sure you use space heaters properly in the house to ensure safety. Make sure that you keep space heaters away from anything that can burn such as, furniture, carpets, or curtains. Some space heaters are not designed for damp areas such as the basement, so make sure you buy the right space heater for your basement.

STEP 5: Finishing Touches

This step will deal with most of the finishing touches for your man cave. At this point, you should have all the electrical and plumbing inspected. The city inspector usually does this inspection before you start to close off the open areas. It is logical because you do not want to tear down the finished walls just for checks. Now, you will have to decide what kind of walls, flooring, and ceiling finishes you want for your man cave. After all the embellishments, you can register our basement as a living space. It will significantly add value to your house, which is an excellent investment.

Walls

In some areas, the raw stone wall should be enough. However, in places that experience extreme weather conditions, you will probably need to add extra protection against the cold or rain. Here are a couple of wall finishes you can choose for your man cave:

Ceiling

If you do not finish your basement ceiling, there will be a lot of air ducts, wires, and piping above your space. Some people just paint the joists and pipes black. This idea can work; however, it is not advised. You will need to add a ceiling if you want extra protection from the cold or any other hazards. Here are a couple of ceiling ideas for your man cave:

Flooring

The concrete slab flooring of a basement may not be cozy for a living space, so choosing the right flooring is crucial. Hardwood is not suggested in basements that are prone to flooding. You would want to select a material that is waterproof and warm. Here are a couple of suitable flooring choices for your basement:

  • VINYL FLOORING

Besides the affordable price, vinyl flooring is a lot easier to install and easy to clean. It is also durable and can handle a lot of foot traffic. There are a lot of designs to choose from, so it has a lot of decorative possibilities in your man cave.

  • LAMINATE FLOORING

Laminate flooring is on the more affordable side. It is water-resistant, which makes it a good quality for basements since basements are prone to floods. Laminate flooring styles can mimic the visual aspects of other types of floors.

  • CERAMIC TILE

Ceramic tile flooring is an excellent choice for most designers because of the vast array of styles and colors. There are a lot of types of tiles to choose from, such as porcelain, glazed, and granite tiles. Larger tile pieces are more slippery than smaller pieces. They are a suitable choice for a bathroom in your man cave.

  • RUBBER FLOORING

Rubber flooring is another excellent choice for your basement playroom. It is effortless to install, and it is very reasonably priced. It does not look that fancy, so if you are going for a fancy basement look, you would not probably like the aesthetic of this type of flooring. However, for gaming, this is a comfortable material under your feet. Plus, it is prone to moisture that makes it perfect for basement man caves.

STEP 6: Decorations and Game Ideas

To decorate a man cave, you will have to think about the color, the decorations, furniture, and the gaming equipment. It is better to start from scratch. Start with an empty and colorless room. Choose a color for the walls and buy furniture that blends well with the whole room. Black and white are neutral colors that are easy to start off with. Neutral colors are flexible that go with most color accents. Nowadays, the color gray is considered the new neutral color for man caves.

Here are some color ideas for your man cave:

RED Wild Thing Back Stage Fret wire
RED Mineral Ethiopia Chipotle Paste
RED Sierra Sand Tuscan Russet Black Suede
RED Silver Clouds Boulder Creek Terra Cotta Sun
BLUE Quail Ridge Eagle Ridge Boulder Creek
BLUE Jungle Khaki Moonstruck Desert Night
BLUE Smokey Blue Swiss Coffee Gentle Rain
GRAY Dark Granite Gentle Rain Reflecting Pool
GRAY Sterling Paramount Evening Rush
GRAY Mineral Paramount Chipotle Paste
BROWN Gentle Rain Witch Hazel Sculpted Clay
BEIGE Almost Famous Fret wire Back Stage
EARTHY Garden wall Shadow Ridge Chipotle Paste

Gaming Ideas

The games you put in your man cave for you to enjoy are essential to relieve stress. Here are some contests and items you can buy for your man cave:

  • Pool Table
  • Darts
  • Bar
  • Home Theater
  • Video Games
  • Cigar Table
  • Classic Arcade Games
  • Poker Table
  • Musical Instruments

STEP 7: Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy

Welcome to man cave paradise! Now that you have finished everything from finishing your basement to decorating your man cave with games, there is nothing more to do than relax and enjoy the man cave you built for yourself. A couple of things you need to remember is to maintain the man cave and always keep it clean. Even if you have a man cave, you should still spend time with your family. Spending time with your family is still a better way to relieve your stress. 

RELATED QUESTIONS

  • Who can I invite in my man cave?

Just because it is called a man cave, it does not precisely mean women are not allowed. You can invite your wife and your kids. If you are going to invite your kids, make sure the place is child-friendly and keep hazardous items away from children. Remember to set boundaries. Let your kids know that they need to ask permission to go to the man cave. You can invite anyone, especially if you are going to host parties.

  • What is the overall budget for a man cave?

There is no exact budget quote for creating a man cave because there are so many factors that will affect the price. It is better if you separate your budget for the location and the games. The average cost for finishing a basement is around $22,000 to $46,000.

  • Man cave for women?

Man caves for women are commonly referred to as “She Sheds.” Just like men, women need to have personal space to take care of their well-being. She sheds are typically located in the backyard garden shed of the house.

  • Man cave for kids?

You probably always wanted a place to hang out with your friends when you were a kid. Guess what! You probably had one. It is called a treehouse. It does not exactly have all the fancy equipment as your man cave has now, but it is kind of the same idea. It is a place that you hang out with friends after school. A man cave is an evolved treehouse.

CONCLUSION

The process of building a man cave can be scary at first. Just thinking about all the work can be frustrating. I know, it is very challenging looking at it from a big picture. The best way to overcome this feeling is by taking baby steps. Don’t think about this as a big project, but rather six small projects you can finish one at a time. I am sure once you complete this job, the benefits of your man cave will be worth all the hard work. Good luck on your man cave journey. May the man cave force guide you into finishing your ultimate man cave!

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