Is It Time to Renovate Your Basement?

When you walk downstairs to your basement, do you look around and think we could turn this into a much more comfortable living space? Does watching the home renovations shows on TV give you some exciting ideas helping you visualize what your basement would look like? It might be time to renovate your basement.  This project will increase the value of your home. This will be extremely important should you ever decide to sell, especially in the current market environment.

There are many reasons to renovate your basement:

  • Have more livable space for your family
  • Dramatically increase the functionality of the entire home
  • Have a play area/schoolroom for the kids
  • Build a suite for an extended family member with a kitchenette
  • Have an office if you plan on working from home in the long term
  • Given the high price of buying a new home, it may be a smart move to renovate your basement
  • Increase your living space without dramatically increasing the size of your mortgage
  • Build a room to rent out to increase income
  • Have a games rooms, wet bar, home gym or family theatre


What is Behind the Basement Walls? 

Before starting any personal or builder renovation ensure to have professional contractors inspect:

  • Check the electrical panel in the home to ensure it can take any increased load
  • Verify that there are no water issues in the basement walls and floor
  • If you increase the number of bathrooms, make sure the septic system is up to date and can take the increased load
  • If your septic system is affected, you must contact the Ottawa Septic System Office
  • Have the foundation inspected for any cracks or structural issues
  • Check that the HVAC system can support the new spaces


Do We Need a Building Permit?

After discussing the possible renovation with several trusted contractors and before applying for a building permit, always ask for a 3D Visual of the project. It is much easier for you and your family to visualize the new space when you can see what it will look like ahead of time.

Some of us are capable of completing home renovations without a contractor. If you can complete the work yourself, you must ensure that all the permits and inspections are completed correctly. Not following the required steps can negatively impact the ability to get house insurance and may delay your home’s sale.

It is your responsibility to ensure that a building permit is obtained. You may authorize your contractor to apply for the permit, but you should ensure that they have the permit prior to starting any work. Many owners prefer to apply themselves to ensure the City receives the permit application. Both the owner and the contractor are responsible for the process and are equally liable under the Ontario Building Code Act.


What Will it Cost to Renovate?

As you are working with your contractors, make sure you are given options to manage the cost. The final plan should meet your requirements and hopes while respecting your budget. One of the current challenges is that the cost of building materials, in particular wood, has skyrocketed in the last year. This trend is expected to continue, so moving quickly may be advised. There are also many green initiatives to help save some money along the way & be environmentally conscious.


The cost of any basement renovation depends on many factors:

  • The square footage of the renovations
  • The number of rooms
  • If new egress windows are required
  • Addition of a bathroom or kitchenette
  • The scale of electrical or foundation work needed
  • Quality and therefore the cost of the finishes, including the floor choice
  • Any environmental issues such as mould and asbestos that would require professional remediation action
  • Interior and exterior structural alterations
  • Adding or removing walls for new rooms
  • Any additions or extensions to a plumbing system
  • Structural foundation repairs and drainage tile replacement
  • Structural repairs or alterations
  • Septic system upgrades


Keep A Contingency Fund

The cost of basement renovations is generally less than for the rest of the house. There are usually fewer high-end finishings. Depending on the scope of the renovation, the building materials are more durable, like the floors, and therefore less expensive. In addition to the building material costs, you should keep at least 10% to 15% of your budget in reserve because of potential hidden issues that may arise.


Is This the Time to Start?

Today many homeowners are very interested in finishing their basement. This is because a finished basement provides extra living space and increases the home’s value. Are you planning to remodel your basement? This may be an excellent time to turn the unused area of the basement into a new and exciting space for your family.


Related Articles:

Green Renovations — Basements

The Do’s and Dont’s of Basement Storage

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