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.