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The Basic steps to Finishing a Basement

The extra square footage of your basement can become a cozy space to spend time with friends and family, an alternative to assisted living for an aging relative or a rental unit providing extra income. All this potential is available at half the cost of adding an addition to the main level of your home. But, how do you go about developing your basement? The following tips will guide you through the process.

  • Develop a plan: Decide how you want to use the space. Do you wish to include a bathroom, home theater, gaming area, laundry room, office, extra bedroom or fitness area? Glean inspiration by looking at magazines, checking out basement renovation sites and/or going to open houses held by local realtors. Draw up a plan, by hand or with the assistance of planning software. Include as much detail as you can; the location of walls and doors, ceiling design, flooring choices, wall colour, furnishings.
  • Find a contractor: There are many hurdles that a professional contractor can help you sort out; a damp floor, poor or no natural lighting, low ceiling height, etc. He’ll know what to do with exposed plumbing, stone foundation walls and central posts. He’ll apply for a building permit and understand the local building codes/regulations. Do you need soundproofing? Your contractor will have advice. Is it possible to install a bathroom? Ask the professional.
  • Set a budget:  Determine how much you want to invest in your basement and discuss this budget with your contractor. He can help you make decisions that will keep you within your financial limits.
  • Undertake prep work: Inspect for seepage. Look for yellow stains, white powder, black areas and cracks. Correct any problems before moving forward. Seal any cracks with a high-viscosity polyurethane polymer. Apply waterproof paint to the walls to provide additional moisture protection. Check the window frames to see if they’re structurally sound and sealed. Walk around your house to ensure that the soil slopes away. Install downspouts to divert water and clean your gutters and window wells to keep water from pooling along the foundation. Make sure you have a working sump pump in your basement. Test for radon and if detected have a professional remedy the issue. Now you’re ready to start the renovation!
  • Install insulation in the exterior walls: Instead of fiberglass insulation and a vapour barrier, cover your walls with rigid foam insulation. It has a high R-value and is impervious to moisture helping to avoid hidden condensation. Seal and insulate the rim joists with closed cell spray foam.  Interior walls do not require insulation unless you need soundproofing or temperature control.
  • Frame the interior walls: Build the walls of your rooms from 2 X 4’s. Take into account doors, windows and posts.
  • Complete electrical work: Have an electrician wire your entire basement safely and efficiently including switches, outlets, lighting and a subpanel.
  • Address heating and ventilation: Though the original builders likely installed a vent or two in your unfinished basement, your duct work may need to be extended and more vents may be required.
  • Install plumbing: If you have decided on a basement bathroom or laundry room, plumbing will be required. The complexity of the task will depend on whether you already have pipes in place and whether there is sufficient slope to rely on gravity. Be aware that there are several good options for toilets that work well in a basement setting (pressure assisted, up-flushing, composting and sewage ejector systems).
  • Position drywall: Use mold and moisture resistant drywall and consider steel studs instead of wood.
  • Put up the ceiling: There are many popular basement ceiling options (beadboard, drywall, corrugated metal, wood paneling or planks, tiles and tin). Which you choose will depend on your tastes, your budget and the height of your basement.
  • Paint: Ensure adequate lighting when painting to achieve a smooth finish. Prime your drywall for best results. Cut down on time by using a 12” roller and/or get your friends to help!
  • Complete Finishing touches: Complete trim work around windows and doors, add baseboards, and shoe or crown molding. 
  • Install flooring: Install a subfloor to create a space beneath your floor-covering reducing hidden floor condensation and keeping your feet warm. Use waterproof flooring to prevent damage from leaks or flooding and adhesive that is suited for damp areas. Consider different flooring for each room depending upon its usage. Sheet vinyl, vinyl tile, ceramic tile, carpet (of synthetic material that is mold and mildew resistant) and rubber floor matting are all good choices.
  • Decorate: Arrange furniture, lamps and accessories. Hang pictures. Enjoy your new space!

Now that you know the basic steps, roll up your sleeves and get started on your basement renovation! Remember to call in a professional contractor for assistance. Turn your dark, damp and musty space into a bright and useable area.If you’re ready to finish your basement, call the Calgary basement experts, Econo Basements at (403) 768-0256 or email at info@econobasements.ca. They will help you design and finish your basement in a way that’s both beautiful and functional.

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