7 tips for renovating a basement
Remodeling and renovating a basement sounds easy, but unless the home is newer and planned for an eventual remodel follow these tips for renovating a basement, as most basements aren’t intended to be transformed into living spaces.
Still, most basement challenges can be overcome with planning and creative thinking.
1. Plan exits and egress
Building codes require safe, accessible exit routes in case of emergencies, especially if the renovated basement will have a bedroom area.
A common requirement is a window opening that is big enough to climb through and provides easy access to ground level. A common solution is to cut down the foundation and build an egress window well.
2. Keep the basement dry
One of the most important tips for renovating a basement is to identify any moisture or water intrusion and stop it at the source. This can range from excavating around the foundation and applying an exterior drainage system to installing an interior perimeter drain system or simply plugging a small crack with hydraulic cement.
And don’t forget to check any plumbing overhead – cold-water copper pipes can “sweat” a great deal in hot weather, potentially ruining a basement ceiling. Simple pipe insulation will address that.
3. Identify hazardous materials in the basement
Many basements contain things such as asbestos to seal seams in ductwork or lead paint. Take the time to identify all potential hazards and contact hazmat professionals to analyze samples for complete safety.
4. Make it drain
A bathroom can be put into just about any basement, but sometimes the cost and aggravation is high.
Quite often, you can remove a part of the concrete slab and connect new waste lines to the existing ones, but only if they run deep enough below the slab to provide adequate drainage slope.
If not, you may have to elevate the bathroom area with a raised floor off the concrete slab – but you can only do that if you have adequate ceiling height. If your waste lines run through the foundation, a sewage ejection pump is often your best option.
5. Retrofit the basement structure
Local building codes will often require certain structural retrofits for finished basements, especially in earthquake regions.
These are often simple and inexpensive additions that can be done while the basement walls are open, but are much more expensive and complex to do later.
6. Plan for future renovations
Because the basement contains most of a home’s mechanical components, any future renovations to the home will require access to them.
Run extra electrical circuits or waste and supply lines before you close off the ceiling, or consider a dropped ceiling with removable panels if you have the height.
7. Consider the noise
Among the tips for renovating a basement, don’t forget this. If the finished basement is to be a media or play room, consider installing acoustic insulation above the ceiling and attaching RC channel to the joists before attaching drywall. RC channel provides a sound break, reducing noise from above and below the basement ceiling.
–By Rob Fanjoy