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11 BASEMENT FINISHING TIPS

If you’re planning on opting for basement finishing in Toronto, read this article to study some valuable basement remodeling tips.


Many people waste basement space by storing old items in it. Did you know that you can turn your basement into a home theatre, an office or a rentable space instead of using it as a storage space for storing old tools, toys, and clothes?

That’s right, finishing your basement not only brings the dark space to life, but it also enhances the value of your home and opens up various opportunities for earning income. 

For instance, If you want some extra cash, you can renovate your basement and rent it out. If you aspire to have your own business, you might want to know that all corporate giants including Google, Amazon, and Facebook were launched from either a basement or a dorm room. Hence, your basement might be the perfect place for you to pursue your entrepreneurial dream. 

Whether you want to rent your basement out or start your own business in it, remodeling your basement is a bulky investment, which is why you should be aware of all the different aspects associated with it. While many of the things you decide to do will depend on the main purpose, there are certain aspects you need to be careful about when executing the renovation project.

When considering basement finishing in Toronto, follow these valuable tips:


1.CHECK LOCAL BUILDING CODES

Regardless of what renovation work you are considering, you must be aware of the local construction code and apply for the permit to begin and complete the project. If you fail to do that, you might face legal actions, delays, fines, and in certain cases, removal of the work already completed.

Homeowners in Toronto who have to obtain a building permit but don’t get one before starting renovations may face the 'work without permit penalty,' which amounts to 50% of the permit fees for the project, or $105.23, whichever is higher, to a maximum of $25,055.

According to the Building Code Act of the City of Toronto, you need a building permit for constructing or pulling down a new building, adding to, or making material modifications to a structure or building.

Moreover, the renovation work must comply with regulations associated with electrical and plumbing systems, zoning, and the building by law. You will be issued a permit if your basement remodeling project meets these regulations. To ensure that the work is done in compliance with the permit, regular inspections are also conducted by the City staff.

As for the permit fees, a minimum of $109.44 is payable for all work along with an inspection fee of $82.08 per hour. The permit fee is calculated using the following formula:

Permit Fee: Service Index based on how your proposed work is classified x floor area in square meters for work involved

However, you only need a building permit if your basement finishing project involves structural fixes, the addition of a basement entrance or a second room, and/or installation or alteration of plumbing or heating systems. You don’t need to worry about the permit if the project doesn’t involve these aspects. However, the project still needs to meet the zoning bylaw requirements.

Make sure you know exactly how much space you’re planning to work with. Consult the local building codes regarding the measurements because they typically require the basements to be at least 7 feet tall and have other rules in place. 

2.GET RID OF MOISTURE

Before starting the renovation process, you must also ensure that your basement is moisture-proof. While no one will force you to follow this step, it's one of the most critical steps in basement remodeling. You may be tempted to skip this step maybe because you just can’t wait to see your glamorous finished basement, but if you complete the renovation on a wet or damp basement, the result will be a moldy finished basement. 

To avoid that, you must eliminate moisture issues before you even begin the basement finishing work. Clear the downspouts and gutters and adjust the soil to slope the ground away from your home foundation. These efforts will help direct water away from your home, preventing the water from entering your home.

If the problem persists, the issue is probably more complex. In that case, you will have to waterproof the walls, add an interior drain tile that makes use of a sump pump, and/or an exterior drain tile. 

Eliminating potential moisture problems might be a time-consuming process, but it helps avoid costly renovations after you’re done with basement finishing. If you suspect serious water damage or mold issues in your unfinished basement, seek professional water damage restoration services before starting the basement renovation process.

3.THINK OF PLUMBING

If you are adding a bathroom in the basement, then it is a tremendous idea. However, you will need to locate the soil stack to check whether the main drain of the home runs above the ground or underground. If it goes underground, plumbing shouldn’t be a challenge, as long as you position the new bathroom near the soil stack.

If the main drain goes above the ground, you’ll probably need a pump and a grinder. Since water naturally flows down due to gravity, special equipment is needed to ensure that it keeps moving upward toward the drain rather than backing up in your toilet or shower.

4.CONSIDER LIGHTING

Lighting is a crucial element that makes your basement a place where people want to spend time in. Ideally, you should try to let in natural light, but that can be difficult in basements. Installing a window seems to be the only way to do this.

Some building codes also require you to add another exit to the basement that you can use in case of emergencies, such as a fire. A large egress window,which brings in more light, can do the job. However, be sure to go through the size requirements of an egress window. After all, it should be large enough to allow a person to crawl through it. 

You can add lighting to your basement through artificial lighting. One great idea is to have ambient lighting in a tray ceiling. Since basement ceilings are typically lower than those in other parts of the house, you should go for lighting that reflects off the ceiling than lighting that is directed downward. Ambient lighting, coupled with indirect lights that splash pools of light on the ceiling, makes rooms appear higher than they are and open up space. Ambient lighting is ideal if you have a basement with a low ceiling.

Another idea is to use recessed lighting in the case of low ceilings. Light from a recessed light spreads out in the shape of a cone. If you go for this option, remember, the lower your basement ceiling is, the closer the recessed lights will have to be to ensure full coverage.

To accommodate different moods and uses, consider using a variety of lighting types. A mix of recessed lighting and up-lighting should provide the flexibility you need to create a variety of lighting moods. There are many energy-efficient options, too, ranging from LEDs to CFLs, that you can use.

5.ALLOW FOR AIR CIRCULATION

Few vents may have been installed in the basement when your home was first built. So, think over how to ensure good air circulation when renovating your basement. This will not only keep the basement dry and eliminate moisture issues, but it will also regulate the indoor air quality in your basement, making it a healthy place to live. 

Add openings such as vents and a return air duct. However, air ducts must be installed far from the furnace so that it doesn't suck or vent dangerous exhaust fumes from the furnace into your home. For your basement, you could install a carbon monoxide detector as it can provide early warnings if the air is polluted.

6.DESIGN A SAFE AND ATTRACTIVE STAIRCASE

For your staircase, you need to meet the code associated with it and make sure it is aesthetically pleasing too. Since codes differ with baluster shape and staircase configurations, you may need to consult a building inspector regarding your plans.

You should also consult a professional architect to help decide whether the staircase should be moved to a better, more convenient location and come up with a staircase design that aligns well with your other plans for the basement.

7.ADD A KITCHEN AND A BED AND BATH

If you intend to convert your basement into a suite, make sure your finished basement includes a bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen. To determine the best dimensions, think about who will stay in the basement and what amenities they’ll need.

For instance, if you want to add a double bed in your basement, you need a minimum space of 125 square feet. If you are adding a kitchen, you will require access to hot and cold water, electrical outlets, a dishwasher, and appliances. 

Planning all aspects will turn the space into a perfect guest suite.

8.FINISH THE WALLS

Basement walls are typically made from materials such as stacked concrete or poured concrete blocks that make your basement appear as a secondary space. To give your basement the main-floor feel, you will either need to paint over the concrete or cover the material through plywood, drywall, or paneling. 

9.FINISH THE CEILING

When it comes to dealing with the ceiling, you need to conceal the wires, ducts, and pipes.  For this, you need to drop the ceiling height in certain areas. One approach is to consolidate all such obstructions in a single area and extend the dropped ceiling to the wall for a natural transition.

Another great way to improve the look of your basement is to use drywall. Position access panels where meters, junction boxes, and shutoffs are located. Consider using moisture-resistant drywall and install it half an inch above the ground. This should prove helpful in the case of floods.

Since paper harbors mold, fiberglass-faced drywall is better than paper-faced drywall. However, when using fiberglass, the entire face needs to be skim coated with a joint compound that costs a lot more.

Many people don't like the look of ceiling tiles in a grid. The drywall ceiling trend has replaced them nowadays. If you want to have an interesting look for the ceiling but want easy access to space over the basement, sculptural ceiling tiles may be the best option.

Since basements are below the ground level and have bathrooms and kitchens above it, they're often flooded when water seeps through the ceiling. Having ceiling tiles means you'll only have to replace one or two tiles, but with drywall ceiling, you will need to cut out and repair the affected section.

10.CHOOSE THE RIGHT MATERIAL FOR BASEMENT FLOORING

Basement flooring can be a tricky part when it comes to basement finishing in Toronto. It's not recommended to use a carpet in the basement as it's vulnerable to water damage and mold growth. For areas prone to moisture, tiles are a good option, but they feel cold and hard underfoot. 

Hence, an interlocking cork floor is a great alternative. It is warm, sustainably produced and easy to install. However, choose high-quality cork flooring with a water-resistant and durable core.

Other common flooring choices include paint, vinyl, laminate and wood. Since most solid wood flooring expands and shrinks, resulting in warping or gaps, they are not recommended for basements. A better alternative is engineered wood that expands and shrinks a little less.

If you prefer to install tiles, consider LVT or luxury vinyl tiles that are not only water-resistant but also help you save a lot of money as compared to traditional tiles.

11.CONSIDER INTERIOR DESIGN

If you’re a homeowner who likes to take ‘decorative liberties’, get some unique items from a thrift or salvage store for your basement. If you want to take things to the next level, you may turn the space into a farmhouse, a football fan zone, or a ski lodge.

Depending on what interests you, you can choose any theme. If you are struggling here, a professional interior designer can be of great help.

FINAL WORD

To sum it up, there’s no reason why you can’t create a highly comfortable living space in your basement if you pay attention to the details. If you are considering basement finishing in Toronto, keep the above-explained tips in mind. 


Finishing a basement is the right way to go. After all, as opposed to adding additional space, finishing a basement costs considerably less. A basement finishing cost calculator can help you estimate the cost of the project. Get your online quote from BCR Basements today. 

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