Learn How To Finish A Basement

If you're wondering how to finish a basement then lets shed some light on the subject. The answers really depend upon your intended use of the space, whether it's for storage or living. 

First, whatever you do in your basement, it's critically important that it be a safe, healthy space. One of your biggest concerns should be with mold and/or mildew. There are far too many wet, mouldy basements as a result of ineffective or non-existent perimeter drainage. 

Houses in Victoria built prior to the 1970's used drainage tiles made of cement or clay which tend to crack and collapse easily whereas today's modern homes actually have two separate systems made of plastic pipe which is a really big improvement.

If you're considering a home purchase then be absolutely sure to have the drainage system inspected because it can be very costly to repair. I've seen homes where the entire ground around it has been dug up by an excavator because the drainage had failed.. These projects can easily cost $25,000 and delaying it is not an option.

Planning how to finish a basement

Once the issue of drainage has been addressed, it's time to draw up a simple plan sketching out the approximate location and size of the various rooms, taking into account the most sensible layout for accessibility and safety. 

Perhaps you've got an elderly parent in need of accommodation so you'll want what's known as an in-law suite. Greater Victoria municipalities have their own bylaws indicating what you the homeowner are allowed to do with your basement and some of them do not permit suites so be sure to look into it before starting.

You're going to need a bathroom and perhaps a kitchen. Where you place that bathroom depends a lot upon where the existing plumbing is located and a licensed plumber can help you with the decision. As far as a kitchen goes, it has serious wiring and plumbing considerations so you'll need the help of an electrician too.

As a journeyman carpenter and general contractor, I like to meet with the electrician, plumber and homeowner to discuss the basic layout of how to finish a basement long before we even break ground because avoiding future problems is key at this stage. 

So many costly mistakes can be avoided by thorough preparation and planning. Now that doesn't mean there won't be problems during the course of construction because it's just the nature of the beast, but our goal is to reduce the number of issues that arise and keep the costs down.

Heating and ventilation should be addressed early on as well so that your new basement renovation is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Airflow is critical to achieving this so that old furnace may need replacing or perhaps be supplemented with a new heat pump. 

When I layout the walls my goal is to make the best use of the space and design an attractive looking living area too. Logical and easy access to the various rooms is essential while allowing for the most natural light possible. If you're anything like me, the last thing you'll want to see in a basement is fluorescent light fixtures!

Wrapping up how to finish a basement

A warm floor sure is nice to have for bare feet and that's achieved by several methods. The least expensive option is thick underlay and carpet. In addition to its insulating and sound deadening characteristics, carpet undoubtedly adds a sense of comfort and warmth. But its not for everyone.

If you'd rather have a more durable surface, then laminate flooring is a good choice because it's also easier to keep clean. It offers the warmth and appearance of hardwood without the cost. It's a floating floor because it's not attached to the concrete and moisture problems are averted with vapour barrier underlayments.

But laminate doesn't add much insulating R-value so we need to raise the finished floor and it's done by either laying down 2x4 wood “sleepers”, rigid insulation and plywood or by using a manufactured subflloor tile called Barricade which combines the benefits of a vapour barrier with insulation. 

Finally, paint colour is critically important to help create an inviting, comfortable atmosphere. Many people feel lost when it comes to choosing colours and that's where an experienced painter is worth their weight in gold. They can simplify the process AND take care of what can be a real messy job, often for much less money than you'd think. 

So whether you've got kids or grandparents living beneath you, they'll really appreciate that you took the time to learn how to finish a basement and if you need help with any of it, Toolbox Renovations is just a phone call away!

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