Basement finishing is the new home improvement that is sweeping the nation. People are doing more research, spending more money in regards to preparing their basement for finishing then they now are on additions.
It’s a smart move financially. It helps to increase the value of your home and, if done properly, can help to increase the air quality of the home, and in return maintain healthy conditions in the household.
Your basement’s condition affects the home. Pre-Finishing steps need to be taken to ensure that your basement is not only safe, but that your finishing investment will be protected for years to come. Many homeowners skip this step. Finishing a basement and increasing the value of your home in one home renovation is an exciting prospect. However, my first suggestion is to always slow down and do the following:
1.) Get the basement inspected: Inspecting the basement can reveal very important information. Do you have foundation damage? Is your oil and electric up to code? Is your bulkhead or alternate escape route up to fire codes?
2.) Test for Radon: 1 out of every 5 homes in America have radon in the home. Depending on the levels in your basement it might stop your project cold. Make sure that you don’t’ have it, and if you do have it, you catch it before you spend thousands of dollars making a bedroom for your teenager (or whatever your plans were).
3.) Pre-Finish the basement with a moisture control and air circulation systems. These need to be in place to control moisture and humidity content as well as to help to generate air circulation behind the finished walls.
4.) Extra Look at the Floor Plans: Make sure that all escape routes are clearly visible from multiple points in each section of the basement. Expect to have a Fire Marshall officially inspect the construction to double check this.
Walls have to be properly designed to exist in a basement environment. The basement is naturally more humid and moist then the rest of the home. This is because of being completely surrounded by soil and possible bodies of water.
Walls have to have moisture and water protection in mind for a basement wall design. I personally suggest MoldTough™ from USG, metal studs, regular insulation of your choice (normally R-13 – R-19), but most importantly installing all of this 1″-3” away from a Vapor Barrier installed into a drainage system.
Vapor Barrier is a plastic product that comes in many different styles. The main idea is that it’s installed to minimize the amount of moisture that transfers from the concrete into the walls. The water is now trapped and directed to follow the path of the interior drain system. Not having an interior drain system can allow for leaks and moisture transfer that can bread mold, reduce your R-value, steal heat from your basement, cause you to spend more money on long term repair, and increase the amount of time your dehumidifier runs.