Most basements weren’t built purposely as living spaces. They often have at least part of the foundation below grade where moisture can infiltrate, and so they require a different approach when renovating. Even though this is the season for the DIY enthusiast, it’s better to go with a skilled, licenced professional because of the complex issues found in a basement renovation.
Essential Tips When Choosing a Contractor
Before You Start
Does the contractor provide for or have:
• the appropriate city renovator’s licence?
• liability and WSIB insurance?
• a knowledge of design, architecture and engineering?
• the option to pay as you go?
• a lifetime warranty on all labour and installation?
• references and/or testimonials?
Identify a budget and set realistic priorities with the contractor. A good contractor will guide you through the pricing implications of design, architectural, engineering and structural considerations along the way.
Design and Structural Consultation
• Function. Determine the primary use of the space and possible transitions of the space for the future.
• Moisture and drainage. Solve mold or moisture problems caused by stress-fractures in concrete walls or drainage issues, and choose mold-and moisture-resistant building supplies.
• Code, legal and insurance restrictions. Identify height, exit, fire code and insurance requirements specific to basement renovations.
• Mechanical systems. Consider rough-in requirements for electronics and appliances and future access to HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems.
• Architectural/engineering changes. Identify changes to support posts, beams, walls, windows and doors, and stairwell locations.
• Soundproofing. Choose sound-mitigating insulation and install a resilient channel across the joists with acoustical matting.
• Window and door size. Maximize the size of windows and door openings to allow for more light and warmth.
• Electrical. Identify ceiling and wiring requirements for pot lights, track lighting and/or suspended fixtures.
• Finishes. Choose finishes that are consistent with the rest of the house to ensure a sense of flow and to enhance the value of the home.