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finished basementBuilding an addition onto a home is a terrific way to refresh the exterior, add livable space, and add value to your home. However, your home might not be a suitable candidate for expansion. Perhaps your home’s footprint already reaches as far as possible into the yard. Maybe an addition is a little out of your budget.

One of the best ways to expand square footage in your home without adding rooms onto the exterior is with a finished basement.

Unique Challenges of the Basement

Like any renovation project, the basement presents a variety of unique challenges that must be met. Many potential sources of trouble stem from water and waterproofing. Other issues often relate to the structural integrity of the home and whether changes to the walls are possible within the basement.

Finding Potential Sources of Water

Taking precautions against water is an important part of renovating a basement, but it’s also important to determine whether the space is dry enough before construction starts to support a finished basement.

Home improvement expert Steve Maxwell offers an interesting method for figuring out how damp your basement is, and all you need is some duct tape and clear, polyethylene plastic. Here’s what he says:

In several places around your bare-naked basement, use duct tape to fasten 2-foot x 2-foot squares of clear, polyethylene plastic to the walls and floor. These sheets will trap any moisture vapour moving inwards through the masonry, making it visible. Better to find out now that you have a hidden, inward moisture migration rather than after you’ve covered it all up with an insulated wall.

Considering Columns in Your Remodel

In addition to protecting the basement from water, the redesign must take into account the support beams and pillars in the basement that shouldn’t be moved during the project. When a home is first constructed, the structure will feature several important support beams and posts that ensure the house remains standing.

Moving these columns or support beams could lead to a collapse!

When you inspect your basement with your contractor to discuss what you want for your new basement, you’ll probably see several hefty beams or columns that can’t be moved. LivingSpace360 offers a simple explanation of what you might see in your basement:

Round steel columns (typically 4 inch diameter) are often used to support beams, especially since 1950. For older homes, brick or block columns (often termed “piers”) were used. Block piers are also used in new houses, especially in a crawl space. Wood columns (often termed “posts”) are usually found in older homes. Since about 1970, manufactured wood (LVL, PSL) has been used for beams.

The building code in your city provides specifics for how homes must be built and the type of support columns required to ensure structural integrity of the home. Not only do these codes measure the weight of the home, but the weight of occupants and furniture is also taken into account.

Don’t Forget the Sump Pump

It doesn’t take a disaster to flood the basement, and reducing the chance of a catastrophic flood in your basement starts and ends with your backup sump pump. Consider that in a storm when the power goes out, your sump pump won’t operate unless it’s battery operated.

Your basement renovation might include installation of a sump pump that’s tied to the home’s electric supply, but you’ll want to have another sump pump on hand that operates on batteries, just in case.

Tip: Consider adding flood insurance to your home insurance policy if you decide to get a finished basement. Standard home insurance policies often don’t cover floods or have incredibly small coverage amounts for water damage.

Increase Your Home’s Livable Space

Are you thinking about transforming your dark basement space into a welcoming retreat for entertainment, exercise, or additional space? Contact us about our design/build services and learn about our free consultation services.