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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Colhoun

Things You Should Consider Before Renovating Your Basement

Renovating your basement is a great way to add extra living space to your home without breaking the bank. Before you start renovating your basement make sure you invest the time to fully understand all aspects of your project.

Below are four steps to start your project on the right foot:


The most common problem is the potential for moisture issues. When water seeps in from exterior sources it tends to come in through foundation cracks and leaky window wells. Small cracks can be patched from the inside with injection-type fills or cement-based materials or in some cases via the exterior. Major cracks will allow water and soil gas to seep in. It is important to fix these early on to prevent any future structural damage. Other evidence of moisture includes rust at the base of metal support posts, lifting of tiles and damaged flooring, mold and decay on floor joists and sill plates, high air humidity, musty odour, efflorescence (white, chalky stains on floors and walls), wet insulation and more.


Soil surrounding your foundation walls contains large amounts of moisture from surface water. Ensure the grading slope directs water away from your home. Check that all your downspouts have extensions, clean eavestroughs regularly, and caulk the corner joints.


Check your basement floors and walls for cracks, porous, and crumbling mortar. Severe cracks may indicate structural problems that will need to be dealt with prior to starting the renovation. Does the foundation appear to be sinking? Is there evidence of termite damage or rodents? Are the foundation walls wavy or bowed? Consider hiring a structural engineer for these types of situations.


Hiring a reputable contractor is extremely important. A good place to start is by asking your friends and family. You will be able to find out whether the contractor is licensed, their level of experience, quality of work, dependability, pricing, communication skills, and more.

Here are some critical questions you need to ask potential contractors during the interview process:

  • How long has the contractor been in business?

  • Is your contractor licensed or use licensed trades? Make sure to ask for any certificates and validate that they are current.

  • Does the contractor have all the necessary liability coverage such as public liability insurance, property damage insurance, and worker's compensation for all employees or subcontractors?

  • Will the contractor provide warranties on all supplied work and materials for at least one year in addition to the manufacturer's warranties?

  • Will the contractor provide both a written estimate and contract detailing all aspects of the project including both your name and address as well as the contractor’s, detailed specs, products, finishes, drawings, permits, and the right to a lien holdback? Types of holdbacks to protect homeowners include builder's lien holdback, deficiency holdback, and seasonal/delivery holdback.

Taking the steps to conduct proper research will set you up for success. Remember that reputable firms and contractors will not be offended by such questions. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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