Basement Renovation Checklist

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Avoid costly mistakes with this checklist to help you get the remodeled basement you’ve always wanted

It is essential for your basement to be a safe and healthy foundation for the rest of your home. A solid foundation best supports the rest of the structure and resists the pressures of shifting soil around it. It is best to fix any structural issues with your foundation before you begin remodeling your basement.

Before you commit to any basement renovations, make sure to correct the following problems before continuing forward:

Ceiling height

  • Your ceiling needs to be at least 2.1 meters (or 6.8 feet) high with headroom below the top of the frame and the ductwork.
  • Walls, slabs and footings
  • Any structural issues with walls, slabs and footings need to be addressed before you make any renovations to your basement. Common issues include cracks, crumbling and powdery mortar and concrete. Foundation walls could be warped, or the surface layer of the concrete could have started to break away.

Floors

  • You could face sinking or settling of a foundation built on fill or disturbed soil. Concrete floors might begin to lift up, as well.
  • Support of the main floor system
  • Uneven floor joists and beams need to be fixed before any renovations are made.

Noxious gasses

  • Check for soil gas, methane or radon infiltration. If you’re ever unsure of whether these gasses might be present in your basement, consult a professional.

Humidity

Excessive humidity can cause damage to every part of your basement. To see if you have any issues with humidity, look for the following:

1). Bad smells

2). Water on the floor

3). Dampness on the walls or white, chalky stains

4). Mold of any color, or fuzzy growth

5). Wet or decaying wood window frames, sill plates, columns or beam ends that come in contact with the concrete

6). Lifting floor tiles

7). Damp or musty carpeting

8). Wet insulation

9). Damage to framing or finished walls

10). Condensation on pipes and other surfaces.

Support

  • Make sure that your foundation can adequately support your main floor system and any proposed renovations
  • Pests
  • Pests like rodents and insects can cause a lot of damage anywhere in your home, but they are especially common in basements. Even if you don’t have a pest problem now, make sure to check for any previous damage caused by prior infestations.

Did You Know?

  • The majority of building codes require an unobstructed window at least three square feet for ventilation purposes.
  • Any finished basement must have an exit path. If this path is through a window, it must be large enough and easily reached to provide safe access to upper levels of the structure.
  • Exit doors need to be at least thirty-two inches wide and eighty inches high.
  • Corridors must be at least thirty-five inches wide.
  • The exit staircase must be at least thirty-four inches wide between wall faces and have at least seventy-seven inches of head room. The rise, run and depth must conform to local building codes, and you may have to add a hand rail or protective guard on the side of the stairs.
  • If you need to fix any structural problems in your foundation, you need to consult with a basement specialist. If you have multiple, severe or expanding cracks, your contractor might also suggest that you consult a structural engineer.
  • If unwanted pests have taken up residence in your basement, you will need to hire a professional exterminator.

It is advisable to keep all of this information in mind when you begin the process of renovating your basement, or even just thinking about it. Once you have these issues under control, you will be one big step closer to the basement of your dreams!