7 Most Common Basement Renovation Mistakes

The dollar amount of basement renovations in the great white north ramped up to $80 billion in 2019 alone. However, even after all that spending, Canadians are still not getting their below-surface remodeling right. The first mistake that many make is NOT getting a permit.

Since you are altering the structure of your home, it needs to meet the building code. Renovations without the permits lead to several penalties, which homeowners end up paying in addition to hefty renovation costs. 

Besides this, there are several mistakes people need to be aware of and avoid at all costs when remodeling their basements. So let’s check out the most commonly repeated ones below:

Things to AVOID When Renovating Basement:

1. Not Laying Out the Blueprints:

This cannot be stressed enough. Planning the basement with an authentic, functional design is the key to achieving a blend of practicality and aesthetics. 

Many homeowners close their eyes on getting a professional involved in the basement’s design flow, the result; cluttered basement, which can make anyone claustrophobic. 

So, either get help from a designer or architect to plan an open and well-organized basement or, at the very least, keep the following things in view:

  • Modify the space to conceal the furnace, electrical panels, and plumbing lines; they can be an eyesore
  • You can also confine the aforementioned elements into a separate closet or room – everything laid out in a single partition. This will leave the rest of the space open to a world of renovating possibilities.
  • If designing a basement apartment, use half walls, sliding barn doors, movable partitions, or pocket doors for space separation. If minimal space is available, arrange furniture to designate areas for specialty uses.
  • Consider ceiling height according to your own, so space doesn’t seem like closing on you
  • Play with different light types for functionality and aesthetics, such as recessed can lighting, track light, wall sconces, and mood lighting, etc.

2. Not Keeping Water Emergencies in Mind:

Floods are among the top three disasters experienced by Canadians, which begs the question; are you well prepared for handling water emergencies in your basement? Since it’s the lowest level in your home, chances are, it’ll be filled with water first in case of flood or even a sewer back-up. 

So plan your drainage and plumbing before doing any heavy work. Be sure to have complete drain access from your basement. Yes, it might not look very elegant to have a drain in your freshly constructed basement, you can still cover it with furniture or tiles.

Plus, practice caution when doing things like digging, adjusting, and installing basement flooring; you do not want to hit any pipes and cause them to burst later on. 

3. Using Wooden Flooring:

While using wood-based materials is a norm for flooring above the ground, for the basement, wood is synonymous with disaster. This is because basements are more humid than the rest of the house except for the bathroom, maybe. So when moisture reacts with organic matter like wood, it creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew. 

Furthermore, depending on the type of wood you use, it can expand over time as it absorbs more and more moisture, which will uneven the floor. So whether it’s the walls or the floor, only use 100% waterproof, inorganic materials for long-term value.

Tip:Keep monitoring the basement’s moisture level. You need to keep it below 55% because things start getting bad over 60%. Use a humidifier to maintain it.

4. Waterproof the Whole Place:

It goes without saying, but we’ll reiterate to put further stress on it; get your basement waterproofed at any cost! As discussed above, basements are prone to moisture and flooding, so you need to invest in things like a concrete water barrier, as well as a backup sump pump. These two things will seem like a godsend during a flood as they can potentially save you an average of $43,000 in repair costs for flood damages.  

The concrete barrier will stop the water from penetrating the surfaces, and a sump pump will help you get it out fast. We suggest you get a backup battery-operated sump pump as well in case the first one stops working or if there’s a power outage. 

5. Not Soundproofing:

Besides insulating your basement to trap in the warmth, you need to insulate it for sound as well. Consider the purpose you’ll use your basement for and how the sound will travel to other house levels. 

For instance, if you’ll use it as a home theatre and it’s right under a bedroom; you’ll have some very sleep-deprived people walking around the house. So invest in good soundproofing material to have absolute privacy.

6. Not Paying Attention to the Stairway: 

Basement stairways can be very steep, narrow, and shaky if you don’t do anything to fix them. Before starting the renovations, fix all sorts of existing problems in your basement, and a rough stairway is one of them. It should feel inviting and seamlessly transition to the basement without appearing like the odd one out. 

Consider widening the area around it, adding more headroom, or if there’s enough ceiling height, you can add turning or curving stairs for aesthetic purposes. Lastly, MUST add a bright light above the stairway to avoid accidents. 

7. Not Setting Up Right Estimates:

One of the most common renovation mistakes many homeowners make is not gathering enough money for the changes/additions they are going after. No matter which part of your home it is, you get to remodel it once or maybe twice in decades. You do not want to compromise the aesthetics, functionality, and material quality because either you didn’t get the right estimates or don’t have enough budget.

According to Alpine Credits; basement renovations in Canada cost between $35 and $55 per square foot. The lower end estimate means having basic finishing in the basement for an office or recreational room. 

However, the higher-end opens a world of possibilities, including turning the basement into a full-fledged underground apartment with its own kitchen and bathroom. If the budget is tight, getting a home equity-based loan is also an option.