What are the most common mistakes that homeowners make when attempting a basement finishing project?

There are tons of basement finishing projects for DIYers out there but it is important for the homeowner to know their limitations so as not to injure themselves or cause unnecessary damage to the house through costly mistakes. It is best to leave major renovations to the professionals like The Reno Pros that can pull permits and complete basement renovations within code compliance to ensure the job is done safely and correctly. In the city of Toronto there are lots of contractors that can come in and give you an estimate for the basement renovation, which can work as a good guideline for the project. The homeowner might be able to replace a fixture, or tear out and lay new carpet, but they should be wary of getting in over their heads with electrical work, as it can be extremely dangerous. This is also the case with plumbing as that is a skill that requires several years of experience to master, and even then it is not a precise science. When it comes to carpet, the average homeowner probably does not own the tools to correctly stretch and tighten carpet by themselves, which could result in a wrinkly mess. Other than shoddy carpet work, mistakes that could “trip up” the homeowner would include failing to acknowledge, control and prevent moisture during the basement renovation. If there have been problems with moisture or a previous flood in the basement, every effort should be made to completely rid the basement of any water. In keeping with the moisture theme, other valuable things a homeowner may overlook or disregard include:
  • Waterproof materials – When building walls, you will typically use wooden studs, but be sure they are pressure treated and moisture resistant in order to keep them from twisting or warping. The same would go with any organic material like wood that is used in the basement. During heavy rains you could get flooding in the basement and wood and laminate on the floors will certainly not last if you have water seeping in through the concrete foundation or coming in through cracks. Homeowners would be wise to install a polystyrene moisture barrier directly to the foundation walls to keep water away from newly installed studs and drywall – which should both be made from inorganic materials.
  • Secondary sump pump – This is an excellent way to protect your possessions in the basement and preserve your hard work and the renovation investment you’ve made. Unfortunately it is listed under the mistakes that homeowners make when renovating a basement because it is often overlooked and the absence of a secondary unit in the event that the primary goes down can be disastrous. The best solution is to include a battery operated secondary sump pump in case the power in your house goes out, so that you can continue to pump out water if necessary.

What is an example of a relatively safe project for novice DIYers?

Demolition is an area where the homeowner can save a few bucks if they’re not afraid to get dirty and do a little manual labour. This portion of the project can actually be fun too, depending on your stress level. Typically demo work involves clearing out debris, removing fixtures and old or damaged drywall. This can be done with a sledgehammer, knife, gloves, mask and protective eyewear. There is also the chore of hauling away whatever you tear out of the space, which could require a dumpster depending on the size and scope of your basement renovation. This is a good place for inexperienced DIYers to get started. The bottom line is that homeowners in the Toronto area need to understand that water is the true enemy to any basement finishing project and if you do not perform your due diligence in effectively removing all moisture from the space, the success of your project will be short lived if you are able to even get it off the ground. It is also a good idea to bring in a professional contractor like The Reno Pros that can use industry tools to help you avoid mistakes and to confirm what you may or may not already know.