Expanding your living space by remodeling your basement is an exciting project, because there are so many possibilities depending on you and your family’s lifestyle. Before you get started, here are our tips to on how to finish your basement the right way. It all starts with the planning, even if you are not going to completely transform your basement into a new living space in one big project.
There are many things to think about depending on the original design and age of your house. Before changing the basement into a living area it’s important to make sure you are in compliance with the local building code.
Emergency Egress Window
The Ontario Building Code states that an emergency egress window is required for each level of your house. It is important to make sure that you check with your local building department to find out the minimum dimensions for an emergency egress window in your basement. This may mean that you will need a contractor to help you alter the exterior of your house to include an egress window built to code.
Make Sure your Building Foundation is Leak Proof
There is nothing worse than finishing your basement and spending thousands of dollars on the renovation, only to find out later during a heavy rain storm that you have leaks in the foundation or the grading of your foundation does not have the right slope to allow the runoff away from your house. Sometimes the solution isn’t too expensive if it is just re-grading, but if you have foundation cracks this might run you a few thousand dollars to get right. You may require a sump pump to take accumulating water away. In all cases of water creeping into a basement area, it needs to be fixed from the outside first!
A Wood Burning Fireplace/Stove Installation Requires a WETT Inspection
WETT stands for: Wood Energy Technology Transfer and is required by most insurance companies for any kind of wood burning fireplace, fireplace insert or stove, even for pellet stoves. A WETT inspection covers these areas: Chimney & cap build, chimney liner or flue tiles including proper venting, smoke chamber, damper, firebox and firebrick lining, hearth, clearance to walls and ceiling, and the heat shield.
Alternatives to a wood burning fireplace/stove include a zero clearance gas fireplace or an electric fireplace. They will give you the warm ambiance without the need for building in a fireplace that requires a WETT inspection.
In Ontario our basements are a warren of heating ducts and so before you decide how to design your rooms, you may want to consider where your heating ducts are placed. If you have high basement ceilings it may not matter too much because you can hide the heating ducts by building a bulkhead around the duct work and then drywall the ceiling or create a drop ceiling to conceal the duct work. Home Depot has some very attractive ceiling tiles that you might want to consider.
Or if the ceiling height in the basement does not allow concealed duct work then you may need to be creative in how you finish your ceiling by having an industrial feel, leaving the duct work exposed, but painting it the same colour as the rest of your ceiling.
Installing a Bathroom in the Basement
Before you finish your basement design, think about where you are going to locate your bathroom. Yes, all basements need a bathroom, it’s too inconvenient to be climbing the stairs to find a bathroom. And while you are thinking about your living space in the basement, don’t skimp on the bathroom. For maximum resale value, your basement bathroom needs at the minimum a shower, wash basin and toilet. Plumbing codes vary by area, so before you start the bathroom install, be familiar with the code in your local area. The main considerations to installing a bathroom in your basements are drain, waste and vent. This may not be a job that you want to tackle as a DIY project unless you are familiar with your main drainage system and how you can tap into this so that the waste in your basement bathroom flows into the main sewage system of your house. This is might be where you get an expert in to help you!
How to Finish your Basement the Right Way
We hope these tips on how to finish your basement the right way are helpful. We are always happy to do a quick audit of your basement and make suggestions to you on basement renovations before you get started. Connect with us here to set up an appointment, or call us at 905.966.4446.