Basement Finishing Facts

Top 10 things to know before you finish your basement.

  • Finishing a basement is a major project. It will add value to your home and will in most cases increase living space by 100%. Finishing a basement can be a good investment. According to cost versus value surveys conducted annually by Remodeling magazine, the average return on investment for a basement project nationally is currently around 75 cents on the dollar. And a basement project is also likely to add new functionality to your home: more bedrooms, more efficient storage, and more space to entertain.
  • Prepare the basement properly to avoid future water and moisture problems. Finished basements can end up with mold and other moisture related problems behind the finished walls. Be sure you understand the details of waterproofing and proper ventilation.
  • Ventilation and Dehumidification - Merely installing a dehumidifier can actually create problems by drawing water through foundation walls. Air systems vary, you need to know effectiveness and efficiency of an air system.
  • Protect your investment by installing primary sump pump to keep ground water out of your basement. A secondary secondary emergency battery backup pump should be installed as a backup in the event that your primary pump fails or, for power outages.
  • Wall and Flooring products- Floor products designed for below-grade applications should be used for basement finishing. -- even small fluctuations in moisture levels can cause buckling and splitting of non-safe basement flooring. Basement interior walls should be mold and mildew resistant. Protection and proper installation methods should be applied between the foundation wall and the interior wall.
  • Basement safe ceilings- Use drop-ceiling and other ceiling products that resist mold and moisture.- If you need to have access to electrical and plumbing systems in your ceiling, a suspended ceiling may be a good choice.
  • Test your basement for Radon- Radon is an odorless cancer causing radioactive gas that seeps into basements from surrounding soils. Uncontrolled, it can expose you and your family to the equivalent of 200 chest x-rays annually. Test for it with a radon contractor. Mitigating radon may involve sealing cracks and surfaces, or installing ventilators.
  • Plan an emergency escape- Local building codes may demand egress windows in order for a basement room to be considered a bedroom. Egress windows must be large enough for a firefighter in full gear to get into a burning house -- and for occupants to safely escape if stairways are blocked by fire. Where possible, plan for windows and doors.
  • Proper insulation is vital to a successful basement project. Building Code requires R11 insulation below grade. Fiberglass insulation keeps room temperatures comfortable, but more importantly buffers the cool underground walls from condensation when they meet warm air within a basement room.
  • The company you choose to finish your basement will make a difference in how successful your finished basement will be.. A basement finishing company should be knowledgeable specifically in working in basements and know your town's building code. Don’t only consider price as a factor in deciding which company to use. There is no greater disappointment than spending money for a substandard job. Create a healthy and safe living area without compromising the quality, design, and the overall appearance of a new finished space.

Why some basements should not be finished.

  • Radon levels are above recommended EPA levels. Radon levels must be reduced even if you are not finishing your basement. Radon is a colorless gas and known carcinogen that can seep into a home from the soil and rock below. Because it comes from the ground, radon levels are usually highest in basements. Health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control, the Surgeon General, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association all agree that you should act as soon as possible to reduce the radon level if it is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or more.
  • Mold in the basement: If you have a significant amount of mold in your basement, you will need mold remediation before the health impact on the homeowners gets any worse. The key to mold control is moisture control. Before basement finishing you must properly prepare the basement.
  • Basement Finishing state and town building codes. Your new finished basement plans must be in compliant with state and town building codes.
  • Egress: This is basically another word for exit. Proper escapes in case of emergency. Under the new building codes, you will have meet certain requirements such as size and location of exit in reference to the finished space. We install egress opening to comply with codes and for you safety.
  • Ventilation: Basement Ventilation must have proper air exchange per state and town code if the basement is going to be finished for living space. Ask us about our air systems prior to finishing. 
    Ceiling Height: A minimum ceiling height of 7.6' is needed for basement finishing. This height may vary from city to town. We can provide you with this information.

Most basement issues can be resolved so that your basement can be finished. Consult with a HEALTHY BASEMENT CONTRACTOR to determine what can be done for your particular basement.

Basement Finishing materials you should not use:

Organic material is a food source for mold to grow.
Organic material include;

  • Wood studs
  • Non-appriopiate insulation
  • Wood flooring & trim
  • Carpet without a shielded sub-floor can contribute the growth of mold.

These material should be avoided at all cost.  Mold spores can impact the health in your basement and home.

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