When owning a house, focus is always placed on the home’s upper levels. Now we’re turning the tables and talking about the lower floor, the basement! Finishing a basement is a significant decision for homeowners, as it involves transforming an underutilized space into a functional and valuable part of the home. While basements often start as unfinished, cluttered areas primarily used for storage, the question arises of whether it is worthwhile to finish them. There are many things to think about when considering fixing up the basement.

Factors to Consider When Finishing a Basement

When finishing your basement, it’s easy to get lost on Pinterest or in a design magazine when looking for inspiration. It’s in your best interest to take a step back and consider what finishing this basement would do for you:

  • A second source of income: finish the basement and rent it out! This helps with affording property in the city that might otherwise be too expensive.
  • An extra bedroom: whether it is for kids when they come home from university, a live-in nanny, or extra space to host guests, it’s a definite bonus!
  • Create a separate entrance: having an additional entrance will make the basement more private. You won’t have to go through the main living area to access it.
  • More recreational space: kids’ play or movie time might disrupt the main living space. Placing this all downstairs will keep your main rooms less hectic.
  • Need an at-home office: separate your living and working spaces.
  • More wine storage: impress your guests with the latest vintages in your wine cellar.
  • Extra livable space = increase in house value!

What Is Your Budget?

Next on the list is how much money you are willing to invest in this project. It’s easy to outline the above and have an idea of what you want going into a project, but ensuring it’s all within a budget is incredibly important. It involves assessing your financial situation, setting realistic expectations, and determining how much you’re willing and able to invest in the project. Factors to consider include the size of the basement, desired level of finishes, and any additional requirements or modifications needed. Researching and obtaining quotes from contractors, materials suppliers, and other professionals can help you understand the potential costs. Talking to an expert builder or renovator will help you determine what a reasonable budget is and will help determine what is doable within your price range.

Is Your Basement Watertight?

This is one of the most important considerations when deciding whether to finish a basement. You can check to see if there has been any water damage in the past. Check for stains on the concrete or the foundation. Fixing this problem on the home’s exterior is best. There are some interior water-fixing solutions, but water will ultimately still get in, which isn’t good. Degradation of the foundation is something you want to avoid, given that it’s what supports your whole house. If the foundation starts to break down, water gets in easier. It can be costly but is usually necessary when attempting to finish a basement.

How Much Head Space Do You Currently Have?

Many old house basements were not made to be turned into living space, so there might not be enough head space to meet Ontario’s Building Code. This results in a more prominent issue where you must meet code to finish the basement. A watertight basement protects against water damage, mould, and other structural issues. Homeowners should assess the existing condition of the basement, looking for signs of water intrusion such as dampness, musty odours, or visible cracks. Addressing any existing or potential water issues before finishing the basement is essential to create a dry and secure space, safeguarding the investment in the basement renovation and ensuring a comfortable and healthy living environment. This is another time when it is essential to have an expert contractor that can help you determine what your best options are.

What Does Your Basement Look Like Right Now?

Get a head start and step into the basement to investigate what is required of you for this project by inspecting for moisture damage. Inspect the foundation for cracks, settling, or other signs of damage. Check how much headspace is currently available, look for where any electrical/plumbing or other mechanical spaces are and see if it will inconvenience the project.

Go the Extra Step! Do the Research

Before finishing a basement, conducting thorough research is crucial for a successful project. Consider all aspects of finishing the basement, including design ideas, building regulations, permit requirements, and local building codes. By dedicating time to research, you can gather information, set realistic expectations, and make well-informed choices throughout the basement finishing process.