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Nine Tips for Basement Renovation Success

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Nine Tips for Basement Renovation Success

Now that your basement is dry, secure, and up to code as we discussed in our previous blog, you can begin renovations. 

1. Start a wish list

Develop a plan for how you want to use the extra space: bathroom, bedroom, family room, media centre, home gym, office, work shop. You will have to maintain a furnace room, and most likely have an existing laundry space. Unless you have a bungalow or a large house, you may have to set priorities. Your renovation professional can help with priority setting.  

2. Develop a more detailed plan

Don’t forget building code requirements. As well as a wish list for yourself alone, you will have to submit a building plan application that meets your local codes to get a building permit. As we discussed last time, contractors can arrange all building code permits and inspections for you, if you wish.

  • Apartments: If you are considering creating a basement apartment, know that many more codes can apply to you, as you need to make sure your work provides:
    • sufficient building exits, fire separations between units, working. smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors causing fire risks.
    • legal, safe utility connections.
    • legal, safe building renovations.
  • Further, the codes ensure that the number and kind of new dwellings will not overwhelm the neighbourhood in terms of parking, garbage, load on existing community utilities (electrical, plumbing, water and sewers), or reduce neighbours’ property values. 
  • In the case of adding an apartment, it may be wise to bring in a professional.

3. Don’t forget your HVAC system

The furnace room has special ventilation and clearance needs for heating and hot water mechanicals. Leave at least a one person-width space around all sides of all mechanicals (such as furnaces) to allow technicians to maintain them. As well, walls blocking off the furnace areas do require venting near the floor and ceiling, regardless of outdoor venting.  

4. Get in professional plumbers and electricians

For plumbing and electrical work to make sure it is safe and up to code.

5. Consider an air-purification system

To keep your basement smelling fresh.

6. Choose moisture-resistant materials

Basements are usually damper than other areas of the house, despite our best efforts to keep them dry (see our previous blog, Part 1. Eight Tips for Getting Your Basement Ready for Remodelling). Some kinds of flooring and wall-cover materials are more resistant to moisture, mold and mildew than others. For example: Ceramic tile, vinyl flooring, plastic wood, special paint, and basement drywall.

7. Use one kind of flooring

For the entire basement area to provide unity and a feeling of spaciousness. You can add area rugs later for punch and area definition.

8. Consider flooring that provides some degree of comfort

This can include drainage or dimple mats beneath flooring, which allow air to circulate and keep the floor drier and insulated, as well as heated cables or mat systems over the subflooring.

Flooring options: Long lasting ceramic tile is excellent for areas that might get wet but can be cold and slippery without an anti-slip finish. Carpet is more susceptible to moisture issues but is very comfortable and reduces sound. These may be appropriate for you but there are others: cork floors are warm underfoot; vinyl planks can give you look of engineered hardwood and laminate but without the moisture concerns and are warm and quiet; tiles can also be made of warmer vinyl, and sheet flooring is also available. Many of these options can be cushioned as well. Which options you might choose depends on the use you want to put the room to: e.g., workout space, children’s play area, bedroom, entertaining, as well as your price points and structural limitations. Your contractor can help you decide what fits for your unique situation.

9. Get input on basement-specific décor

Basements are darker, damper, colder, and have lower ceilings than other areas of the house. Plus they have design issues such as poles and bulk heads. Besides magazines and online information, do consider a professional contractor for input on your specific situation. Experienced contractors can provide advice on:

  • use of light wall colours, pot lighting and other types of light fixtures, 
  • built-in closets and storage (to replace the old general dumping area), 
  • whether drop ceilings are a useful way to access plumbing and wires or will make your ceilings too low, and,
  • enlargement of windows for egress.

Many contractors have interior decorators or designers on staff, or can bring in people they work with on a regular basis. 

What the Ottawa renovation professionals at McArthur Construction can do for you

Whether your basement is unfinished, partly finished, or you would like an overhaul on an existing completed basement, we can assist with:

  • Building permit applications and inspections.
  • Design suggestions.
  • Flooring repair, installation, and base boards.
  • Walls (drywall installation, plastering, sanding, and painting).
  • Stairways.
  • And much more.

Ready to create the cozy, dry, and bright new living space that will give you pleasure for years to come? Let us help.  For more information, please contact us.

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