Basement Remodeling For Older Homes

Many older homes have basements that have remained unfinished from the day the house was built. These were meant only as a place to keep the mechanical guts of the house, such as heating and cooling systems and other utilities. But with additional living space a priority for today’s homeowners, it’s important to get any usable square footage that you can, and the basement is usually the best place to get that. When it comes to older basements, it’s important to understand that there may be a good deal of preparation required to make the space liveable.

Moisture and Mold

One of the most common issues with basements in older homes is that they can be damp. Because of excess moisture, they can even become breeding grounds for mold. Moisture issues can occur simply due to not having the proper waterproofing material installed below ground. Older stone or brick foundations commonly have this problem. Even concrete block foundations with older waterproofing and draining systems may need to be fixed to make them functional again. Before the basement finishing even begins, make sure that water isn’t regularly entering the basement. Also, if mold has become an issue, remediation must happen before continuing any basement remodel.

Grading Issues for Water Runoff

It’s also important to note that many homes built prior to 1940 were not built to have sufficient grading for water runoff. Improper grading can lead to standing water next to your foundation, eventually leading to cracks in the foundation and other problems. Even if your home is newer than that, you still need to be wary of any signs of foundation damage. Before you go about finishing your basement, any foundation issues must be repaired. If these foundation problems do exist, you may have to look into installing foundation drain tile (a requirement in many newer building codes) or even as far as grading your yard to prevent future water drainage issues. Proper gutters and downspouts are a must, as well, as they can tend to be one of the major factors in water pooling too close to the house.

Proper Insulation and Moisture-Resistant Materials a Must

Once any existing moisture or mold issues are resolved. Any wood framing should be treated to resist moisture. Also, mold and mildew resistant drywall should be used, and vapor barriers and insulation need to be properly installed. In addition, This Old House recommends basement subflooring which creates air gaps below the floor using corrugated or cleated plastic panels that typically come in 2×2 foot interlocking panels. This plastic acts as an additional moisture barrier which will help keep the finishing flooring dry.

Health and Safety Concerns

Air quality is a main concern when remodeling an older basement. Beyond existing mold, there is the potential for radon particles in the air. Radon can be easily tested for and dealt with before any finishing work is underway, as once finishing is done, existing radon can become trapped. While it is a radioactive gas, radon typically doesn’t exist in the air in enough amount to cause any problem. But if it is allowed to build up to toxic levels, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon typically is an issue when it comes to older stone foundations and extra radon can seep in through cracks in concrete floors. This is an important consideration when finishing your basement, as it is yet another thing that must be dealt with immediately.

Other important concerns that need to be keep in mind include old or faulty electrical work, proper entrance and egress, smoke & carbon monoxide detectors, and adequate ventilation. Checking local municipal building codes for any other requirements is a must, as well.

Finishing basements in older homes can do a lot for your home, not only giving you additional living space, but ensuring that your home’s foundation is protected from long-term damage. It also makes certain that your home is safe from air quality issues such as mold or radon. Not to mention, basement remodels greatly increase the value of your home.


Breaking Ground in Your Remodel Project Before Winter


Wintertime doesn’t have to ruin your remodel project. However, there are some steps you should take when you’re close to winter and in the process of a rehab. Breaking ground before the cold weather hits is essential. Doing so helps avoid costly delays and issues further along in the process. The hardest part about remodeling in the winter is getting the ground to cooperate. There are actually many reasons why it’s important to get started well in advance of those colder months.

Cold Ground is Difficult for Several Reasons

Digging is possible in colder weather, but of course, it will be much easier when the ground is not solid or covered in snow or ice. While digging may be possible, some other things may not work well in the colder weather and require waiting for the ground to become softer. Freezing temperatures can also create other problems, such as with concrete. It will not set properly below specific temperatures. Plumbing is another problem area when it comes to cold weather, as pipes can freeze and break. Anything related to water should be handled above freezing temperatures.

Stay Closer to Budget

Untimely delays and unexpected issues can sometimes eat into the budget. Breaking ground before winter can help avoid some of this. Help things stay on track by getting ahead of the colder weather and communicating openly with your contractor about all concerns and changes as quickly as possible. If you simply must do the remodel during the winter months, have your contractor complete the major outdoor and plumbing work done before the cold hits. Your contractor may need to put some things on hold if the work is started too late. Also, some things that are possible during cold weather may be more costly, due to the extra efforts required.

Certain Aspects May Be Put on Hold if You Wait

By hiring your licensed contractor to break ground before the colder months, you’ll avoid costly or inconvenient delays. Some things may need to be put on hold if it’s especially cold. For instance, it’s not a good idea to pour concrete when temperatures are below freezing point. If you have a bigger project, it’s wise to first take care of anything that requires working on areas that are exposed to elements. In most instances, these things would likely be first anyhow. However, if the contractor is not hired in time to complete them before cold weather, this is where the delays can come in.

Finish Faster Before Winter

One benefit to breaking ground before winter is the possibility of getting a project finished more quickly. When you aren’t worried about the weather, things are able to move along much faster. This isn’t to say things will always be perfect when it isn’t winter, as unexpected things are possible in any remodeling project. This could be due to unexpected discoveries, changes in materials or design, and more. However, avoiding cold weather can certainly eliminate a large variety of issues from the equation.

Benefits of Installing a Basement Kitchen

There are many benefits to having an extra kitchen installed in the basement. This can ring true whether your household is large or small. If you ever wondered what to do to make your basement more useful, this is one way many people have done so. Get  more use out of your basement with an extra kitchen. This could also save you time and money — and possibly even help you earn some money too! Read more

Choosing Flooring For Your Basement

This questions comes up a lot: “What type of flooring do you recommend for our finished basement”?


We’re going to answer this in a general sense. The real answer will come from a detailed design process in order to really give you our best recommendation. Most basements start out with concrete flooring. If you’re going to feel comfortable using your basement, the first thing you want to do is cover that up with something much more comfortable, useful, and appealing to the eye. Most importantly, you’ll need to consider the use of the space, and the possibility that some basements could be damper than your main living areas.


But how do choose the best options? When choosing flooring for your basement, there are some important things to consider.


Shrewsbury Basement Remodel 3D Rendering

(3D Rendering of a recent Shrewsbury Basement Remodeling Project)


What Will Your Basement Be Used For?
Before installing flooring it’s wise to think about what the space will be used for. For instance, Engineered Hardwood flooring or Vinyl flooring may work best for a basement area designed for a dance studio, dance floor for entertaining, or a yoga room. But if you’re using your basement space as a home theater, you might choose carpet for comfort. On the other hand, a kitchen basement may be better served by linoleum or tile flooring.


Do You Have Kids or Pets?
If you have kids or pets, chances are they might track who knows what onto the floor. Pets also might tear up carpet or scratch up other flooring surfaces. Those with pets should choose a flooring surface that will be easy to clean, as well as harder to damage than some others. Most people do not want to keep replacing flooring every time a child or pet does something destructive. Making appropriate choices can help avoid this and other issues in the future. You could think about tile, vinyl flooring, or even the right kind of Engineered Hardwood flooring.


What’s Your Personal Style?
Once all of the above points have been established, think about your personal style. You and your remodel contractor should come up with a flooring choice that not only works with the above issues, but also fits your style. After all, you will need to live with the design choice. Therefore, it should be something that makes you happy.


Break it Up
Depending on the size of your finished space, many homeowners will choose to have different floor types in different areas of the basement. Technology has advanced pretty far int he past decade, so many of the traditional flooring options may have similar products available in high traffic or high moisture situations.

Thanks for reading. Here is some more information:


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