By Scott McGillivray
Americans continue to fuel remodeling spending across the country, driven by upward growth in real estate prices and the rising cost to trade up to a larger home. Basement renovations are expected to be a hot trend in 2016, as buyers look to maximize available living space rather than move, and as young buyers look to offset the cost of homeownership with potential income suites.
While finishing a basement can be a great alternative to moving –– especially if you love your neighborhood — there are some challenges homeowners must be aware of when tackling below-grade living spaces. Choosing the right products is vital to the comfort, safety and function of your new living area. Look for products that help to maximize energy efficiency and protect against moisture, fire and noise.
Here are the top points to consider to ensure a successful basement renovation.
Waterproof it. Check the interior foundation and floors to make sure there are no existing moisture issues, water damage or mold problems. Address any primary moisture issues before finishing the space. Examine grading to ensure water runs away from your foundation.
Insulation is key. Insulation plays a critical role in making your basement feel comfortable, while keeping it safe and dry. For the best results, install a rigid board insulation against the concrete foundation before you stud the wall. The board is mechanically fastened or adhered to the concrete foundation wall, which prevents thermal bridging through the studs, providing better thermal performance. Finish with a moisture-resistant and dimensionally stable insulation between the studs to protect against common basement issues such as mold, mildew and rot.
Choose a functional design. Draw out plans, carefully taking into consideration any low ceilings or small windows. Try to incorporate structural features, such as attractive wood beams, into your design. Keep the space as open as possible. Select lighting that provides a bright, airy feel.
Don’t forget to soundproof it. Soundproofing is the ultimate solution to maximize your basement’s quiet and privacy. Whether your newfound space will function as a home theatre, music room, home office or playroom, it will benefit from quality acoustic insulation. Not only is it highly effective, but it’s also easy to install.
Consider fire safety. Since many basements are now being renovated as income suites, fire protection is also a vital consideration. Whenever possible, select building materials with a high fire-resistance rating and look for products that will not off-gas or contribute to toxic smoke in the event of a fire. Include additional exits in your renovation plan and educate yourself on your local fire code.
Before you start your renovation, be sure to check with your municipality to secure the right permits and to ensure that you’re complying with local bylaws and building codes. Finishing a basement can be a smart renovation, if done properly, adding to a home’s value, increasing its function and providing greater enjoyment or income potential.