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Important Things to Know Before Renovating Your Basement

Important Things to Know Before Renovating Your Basement

Renovating a basement can be an exciting process as the task will give you and your family additional living space once it’s been completed. Here in Toronto, real estate is at a premium and yard space is scare, so converting exiting space in your home is usually a good option.  However, before you get underway, there are several things you should take into consideration to help make the job go as smoothly as possible.

Check for leaks

Before you start it’s highly recommended that you check the basement for any signs of water leakage. You should look for drips or pools of water to be sure there aren’t any cracks in the foundation walls. If there are, then they should be repaired before beginning the renovation.

Obtaining the necessary permits

Once you’re sure the basement is dry and free of leaks you’ll need to check your local municipal bylaws to see if any type of building permit is needed. This is especially important if any electrical and/or plumbing work is going to be done since it may need to pass an inspection.


Most basement floors and walls are constructed of brick, block, cement or masonry and you’ll need an adequate fastener or anchors when it comes time to attach the framing. In some situations the best choice is to rent a shotgun fastener. These are powder-actuated and get their name because they insert fasteners into concrete by using a charge, much like a shotgun.

Install a vapour barrier

If your basement doesn’t leak it could still feel damp compared to the rest of the house. It’s a good idea to install a vapour barrier to the floors and walls before framing and finishing those surfaces. Most people lay the vapour barrier for one or two days and then inspect underneath it to see if there is any moisture getting through.

Creating an offset

Moisture can still be a problem even when a vapour barrier is used. You can add thin metal or wood slats known as furring strips to form an offset from the outside wall. The strips are also good for leveling walls by creating a flat surface for framing.


As well as keeping the cold air out and the warm air in, good insulation can also help fight off moisture and help soundproof the room. The best type of insulating material will have vapour barrier on each side, but be sure the type of insulation used meets your local bylaws.

Easier access with a drop ceiling

Suspended or drop ceilings are a good way to provide access to and conceal plumbing and electrical lines as the tiles are easy to remove. Just remember these types of ceilings will typically cut down on the overhead space though. But one way to create more overhead space in the basement is to install recessed lighting with a drop ceiling.

Baseboard heating

As long as it won’t interfere with your current HVAC system, baseboard heating is quite popular since warm air will rise.

Don’t finish the furnace room

The furnace room should be left alone as you’ll need easy access to your HVAC system and water heater etc. This area should be open and uncluttered while abiding to your local bylaws.

If you want to find out about a basement renovation project for your home, you can contact us here to schedule a free basement renovation consultation.  York Construction has been serving Toronto and the surrounding GTA for over 50 years.

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