Are you envisioning the way a basement renovation will add extra living space to your home? While finishing a basement is one of the best home projects to take on in terms of return on investment, it’s important to go into this project with your eyes wide open. Is your basement safe to finish? Take a look at the 10 crucial things to consider before finishing your basement.
1. Do a Dryness Check
Always begin by assessing your basement’s moisture situation. Check for drips or pools of water that are telltale signs that you don’t have moisture under control in your basement. Keep in mind that checking on a dry day may not tell the whole story. Be sure to assess all areas of a basement following rain.
2. Basement Waterproofing: Is It Really Necessary?
If you’re going to spend money on finishing your basement, waterproofing is a great basement repair for preserving your investment while avoiding a bigger bill down the line. The reality is that most basements have moisture issues. Failing to add the proper waterproofing membranes can create moisture and mold issues that make a basement unlivable.
3. Inquire About Local Codes
In many towns and cities, permits are needed for basement renovations. When applying for a permit, you’ll need to submit project plans. Keep in mind that plumbing and electrical work may need to be inspected!
4. Be Smart About Mold
Finishing a basement without taking care of an existing mold issue can create a costly disaster. Applying flooring or sheetrock over an area infected with mold can cause mold to spread and linger until you have a real health hazard lurking in your home. Take care of mold remediation while all parts of your unfinished basement are still accessible.
5. Have a Crawl Space? There May Be an Extra Step!
If your home has a crawl space, consider adding a moisture barrier to your crawl space floor. Many homeowners actually use a process called crawl space encapsulation to seal foundation vents and walls because a total “encapsulation” is the most effective option for removing moisture issues. Adding a dehumidifier can also help to keep moisture under control.
6. Let Your Joists Give You Clues
Prior to a basement project, make sure you’re inspecting for rot in joists, sill plates and wood frames. Any signs of sagging in your floors could be signs of rot or insect damage hiding just below the surface. While subtle signs of rot may not be obvious to you, a basement expert will use a mix of expertise and specialized tools to spot rot instantly.
7. Consider Access When Choosing a Ceiling
The fact that basements are notorious for moisture problems means you need to be proactive about access. While all may look dry now, a time may come when you need access to plumbing and electrical lines from your basement. Consider a drop ceiling with removable tiles to prevent the need to tear apart your ceilings if you see signs of a leak down the road.
8. Remember That a Firm Foundation Is Necessary
Hiding cracks won’t fix them. If your basement has a floor crack, wall crack, or foundation crack, the answer is not to simply lay down the flooring over the damaged surface to hide the problem. It’s important to stabilize your foundation to preserve the appearance, safety, and value of your home.
9. Get Creative With Lighting
Big lighting fixtures can cause basement ceilings to feel low. If you choose a drop ceiling, you’re already losing a few inches for the sake of better accessibility. Consider having recessed lights installed when you finish your basement!
10. Don’t Crowd Your Mechanicals
The area of your basement that houses things like your furnace and water heater shouldn’t be finished with the rest of your basement. This area is designed to remain unfinished to allow for easy access, ventilation, and fire prevention. However, keeping moisture under control in the utility area should be part of the general waterproofing strategy for your basement.
Final Thoughts on Preparing for a Basement Renovation
The bottom line is that it often takes an outside eye to plan a safe basement renovation. If you’re planning a DIY basement renovation, it’s still important to have things like moisture levels and code requirements assessed before you begin work. Taking a little time to verify that your basement is safe for a renovation can save you untold amounts of time and money down the road! For more information, you can always reach out to places like 58 Foundations.