How to plan your basement renovations

Basement renovations can convert a versatile space into a recreation room, bedroom, office, gym or an income property. Here's how to plan your renovation so it's well done and headache-free.
What makes basement renovations different

Because basements are underground, they must be treated as a unique environment. Below grade, the soil is a few degrees colder, which is why the basement always feels cooler than the rest of the house.

If you're dealing with an unfinished basement, you’ll need to make sure it’s prepared for drywall and flooring. Here are some tips to help you plan the best basement renovation.

Inspect the area first

Basement’s concrete walls are porous and will allow moisture through. This can lead to toxic mold and mildew build-up if there is not a protective vapour barrier in place. Look closely at the foundation walls and floor for cracks that may cause a problem. Hire a professional for a thorough inspection to determine any potential health hazards.

Decide what you want the basement to include

Now ask yourself, who will use the space and for what? This will help determine how many separate areas (or rooms, depending on their size) you will need to create. Consider the short and long-term use of the space.

If you want your children to use the basement as a playroom now, how will they use it in five years? Ten years? These are important questions that will help you determine how you'll go about renovating your basement.

Draw it out

Sketch out a detailed plan on paper, including furniture positions. This will force you to think about functional properties like plumbing and electrical.

For instance, will there be a bathroom? Can you position it in the same area as the rest of the house’s plumbing? Will the basement have kitchen appliances? Do you need exhaust running to the outside? Will it need to be wired for Internet or cable television? If it’s an office, how many electrical outlets will you want for computers or printers?

Plan your budget

Now that you’ve identified the functional elements, begin to allocate a budget. Even if you’re using a contractor, you can stretch your budget by doing some labour or sourcing supplies yourself.

Give yourself room to save or splurge on items of importance to you whether it’s a home theatre system or a new washing machine, and know which ones may not matter to you as much like a toilet or a shower head. There is almost always a high and low option.

Think about modifications

If your basement has low ceilings, there are a few ways to create more space. If you have the time, patience and money, you can dig out the floor to create more headroom. Adding inset lights to a basement ceiling is an easy way to maximize ceiling height. Create the illusion of higher ceilings by incorporating low furniture in the space. Keep ceiling colour light.

Are you adding windows? Basements with little to no natural light can make use of walls, doors or hanging mirrors that reflect light and create illusion of space. Stagger types of lighting in a basement to define areas of space and mimic natural light.

Basement renovations can make a house feel more like a home, so create a functional space that can grow with you and your family.

How to plan your basement renovations
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