Many basements are little more than a place to collect cobwebs and store stuff. However, fixing a full-height basement can increase the usable living space in your home at a lower cost than adding on. Basements can be turned into any one of several living areas: bedrooms, rec room, or office space.
Changing a concrete dungeon into an inviting living area can be a challenge, and not every basement is great for finishing. Some of the things you need to think about are building codes, moisture, low-hanging drain lines, ductwork and wiring, and your walls and floors. Although you can do some of the work yourself, it will save you time, money and headaches, if you contact K & S Contracting to help you with the project.
MEETING BUILDING CODES
Building codes vary, but generally, a basement must be 7 feet tall. Codes can permit lower obstructions if you have structural beams that can’t be moved. Connect with a local home inspector while you are in the planning stages and they can help you determine what you need to be within the National Building Codes.
Once you determined what your basement will be used for, you must make sure it includes doors and windows for emergency escape.
If your home has a history of flooding, you need to fix that problem before developing the basement. 2 inches of rain falling on a 2,000 sq ft home produces approximately 2,600 gallons of water. Repairing cracks in the foundation, making sure that gutters are clear of clogs and sloping the ground away from the house can solve some of these flooding problems.
LOW-HANGING UTILITY LINES
When you are building a new home, the basement ceiling height and utilities can be planned accordingly. However, when renovating an older area, water lines, air ducts, bathroom and kitchen drains etc are generally smack in the middle of where the renovations are happening. There are a few choices. Move them, box them in or leave them as is. If you decide to tuck water and drain lines out of sight, don’t block access to water shutoffs and drain clean-outs.
FINISHED WALLS AND FLOORS
Hiding concrete or block behind new walls is the easy part. Building walls that won’t encourage mold and mildew, or be damaged by condensation, is a lot harder. Because concrete in contact with the ground is always cool, it can become a condensing surface for water vapour in the warm air escaping from a finished basement. The result? Damp building materials, mildew and, eventually, rot. Air will be musty, finished surfaces ruined.
When it comes to flooring, just about any material will work — tile, carpet, vinyl or laminate. Few contractors recommend traditional hardwood flooring because the moisture in the concrete can cause the wood to swell and buckle.