In many homes, the basement represents great, untapped potential for more living space. It may offer a cost-effective alternative to adding a new family room, an extra bedroom or a home office. With careful planning and the assistance of a professional renovator, most basements can be turned into attractive, comfortable living space.

Energy efficiency and comfort

Renovating your basement offers a great opportunity to increase the energy efficiency of your home. An experienced renovator will inspect your basement and make appropriate recommendations for insulation, caulking and airsealing that can make your entire home more comfortable.


Consult with your renovator on ways to brighten up your basement. Often you can enlarge existing windows or add new ones, depending on the above-ground height of the foundation, what's around the house and the intended use of the new space. Or the renovator may recommend glass blocks - you get the extra light while preserving privacy. Keep in mind that if you are building a bedroom in the basement, the building code specifies a minimum window size for safety reasons.

Special construction considerations

Some basements may pose special challenges, such as supporting posts in the middle of an open area, or floors that are too low for proper connection of bathroom fixtures to municipal sewer line. It may be necessary to break open the concrete floor to get at the plumbing, for instance. An experienced renovator can identify these challenges and provide solutions to overcome them.


In undeveloped basements, the heat is often supplied by registers set in the ductwork running along the basement ceiling. Your renovator may recommend relocating the heat outlets and adding a cold-air return. This will create the air circulation needed for even heat distribution and a much more pleasant living environment.

Air Quality

You need to pay particular attention to moisture and air quality in the basement. Moisture problems should be addressed before going ahead with the renovation work. Your renovator may suggest exterior drainage work or re-parging the outside of the foundation wall to keep water from entering the basement. If mold is present, it can be eliminated by washing the area with a bleach solution.

Proper ventilation will improve indoor air quality

Your renovator may recommend a separate exhaust fan or a heat recovery ventilator (a whole house "fresh air" system). Equipment in the basement such as the furnace and dryer should be vented directly to the outside and may require a separate air intake. In some areas, a dehumidifier may be required during summer months.


Planning a family entertainment centre and a bedroom in the basement? Sound-proofing will minimize the noise travelling from one area to another. Your renovator may also recommend the installation of an intercom system connected to the upstairs for easy communication between levels.

There are lots of good ideas and products available that will add extra comfort and value to your basement renovation. Here are just a few suggestions from experienced renovators to get you started:

  • Make sure you set aside enough room for storage space somewhere in the basement. Have the renovator build a simple floor-to-ceiling shelving system in the storage area to maximize space.
  • Update your laundry room at the same time, with cabinets or shelving, and a counter.
  • Consider installing at least a two-piece bathroom. You'll enjoy the convenience!
  • Rough in all the connections now for later installations, such as a fireplace.
  • Install the wiring now for any anticipated future needs - e.g. cable television, home office equipment, alarm system and dedicated telephone lines.

Basement renovations...Make sure you have all the information and advice you need. Do it right - work with a professional renovator!