10 Tips for Renovating Your Basement
A professional contractor shares her tips on what to consider before you commit to a basement remodel
Renovating basements is old hat for Ventana Construction co-owner Anne Higuera. Soak up her knowledge, check out her original renovation shots for reference, and decide whether you’re ready to jump into a basement remodel.
The windows in this finished basement not only let in loads of light, but they also provide an easy-to-access escape route in case of emergency. Check with your local building department about your home’s requirements.
2. Stop the water. If you have any moisture or water coming in through the foundation or slab, Higuera recommends not finishing that part of the basement until the source is found and fixed. “Covering up a problem will just mean soggy, moldy insulation and Sheetrock in the future, along with ruined flooring,” she says. “Don’t risk it.”
Otherwise, Higuera suggests relocating the ductwork or waste piping into inconspicuous places such as closets. “There are many ways to remove ductwork, gas and water piping and other mechanical components from view by reinstalling them into the floor joists above,” she says. “Even beams can be flush-framed into the floor system.”
“You need enough of a slope in the lines, called ‘fall,’ to allow the waste to leave by gravity,” says Higuera. “If you don’t have fall or your waste lines leave the building through the foundation, like this photo shows, you will need a sewage ejection pump to drain the bathroom waste.”
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7. Look ahead. Don’t finish your basement without thinking about future projects. Because the basement is the heart of most homes’ mechanical systems, you likely will need to get back in there to do any major work on your main floor, or for an addition.
“If you’re planning on a kitchen remodel, run a few extra electrical circuits into the floor system. If a new bath is in your plans, run the waste and supply lines now,” advises Higuera. “There’s nothing worse than having to remove and replace the work you’ve just put in to do a new project.”
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Without a sound break, sound travels through the wood right into the drywall. The RC channel is installed across the joists before the drywall. When it’s time for the drywall to be attached, it rests on the RC channel instead of the wood joists, reducing noise transmission.
Another option? Surface-mount lights versus can lights. “Can lights tend to carry noise, so use surface-mount lights if your ceiling is high enough,” Higuera says.