Finishing your basement is a great way to add value to your home and create a more usable space. However, it can be a significant undertaking with some nuances that make construction challenging. Before you pick up your tools and start building, there are a few key activities and evaluations to conduct.
Here are six things to do before finishing your basement.
Check Out the Moisture
One of the primary concerns for basement renovation projects is the moisture and waterproofing situation. Excessive moisture in your basement could lead to the degradation of the walls and flooring over time. Additionally, this can also be indicative of a bigger issue of water getting into the house. Start with a visual inspection, looking for any wet spots, mold, or leaks. Then, add some plastic sheeting to the walls and ground to remain in place for a week. If there’s condensation under the sheets, your foundation isn’t sealed. That should be the first priority before starting the interior.
There are also other considerations for ensuring your basement stays dry. You may want to evaluate the grading of your yard to help water flow away from your foundation. According to Those Floor Guys, you can help prevent moisture by using epoxy flooring in your basement rather than laminate or vinyl. Sump pumps can also help protect your investment. Keep these options in mind when planning your project.
Evaluate the Ceiling
After you’ve considered any moisture issues, it’s time to evaluate the ceiling. There are a few key things to consider when looking at this part of your basement. The top consideration is the fact that your ceiling is also the floor to the upstairs. Use this opportunity to ensure no floor joists need repairs before you start your project. You’ll also need to consider the clearance height and whether it’s conducive to a functional living space. You may need to outline important access points and determine the best type of ceiling for your basement depending on the height and style you are going for.
Evaluate the Ventilation
Before you plan on moving your family and friends into your new living space, take some time to evaluate the ventilation. Unfinished basements don’t typically have the same ventilation and airflow as the rest of the home. At best, this creates low-quality air that could put you in contact with allergens. At worst, this could create a backup of carbon monoxide from your heating system. It’s worth having a professional look at your ventilation needs to make recommendations when doing a DIY basement renovation.
Figure Out Wiring and Plumbing Needs
Another important consideration is the plumbing and wiring needs, as these will impact the liveability of the space and your budget. Having sufficient lighting is essential for making your basement feel warm and welcoming. Will you accomplish this by adding new light installations or using floor lamps? For plumbing, you’ll need to consider the overall functionality of the space. If you’re adding a bathroom, you’ll be looking at the need for an upflow system. Depending on the complexity of your project, you may need to hire a professional.
Support the Stairs
Most basement staircases are rudimentary and built for minimal use. You’ll need to reevaluate the staircase and ensure it’s up to code. Many DIY’ers run into an issue with the bottom step when they install flooring, as it creates a disparity in the exposed riser height. This issue is another benefit of using epoxy floors, as it will mitigate the work you need to do to your stairs.
Identify the Permits and Coding Regulations
While you’re working to identify the other prerequisites for a basement remodel, look into the permits and coding regulations for your project. These vary from place to place and could dramatically impact what you can legally do to your basement. Work through this list of considerations before you finish your basement to avoid any costly surprises when you start the project.