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Unlock your Basement’s Living Potential

Canadians may be someday known as an “indoor generation.”

About 1 in 4 North Americans (that includes us Canadians) spend almost their entire day indoors, according to studies done by the New York Times, the CBC and a survey from Velux, a window manufacturing company. In real terms, it’s closer to 90-95 percent (about 21-23 hours). Given the fact that as Canadians we also experience very long and cold winters, it makes sense that we retreat to the comfort of our home castles when Mother Nature has her way.

For decades now, basements have been one of those retreats and have come in many different forms, from the indoor hockey rink to the wood paneled, shag carpeted party rooms. Today we are seeing more and more people wanting to utilize this space as an integral part of their entire home rather than an additional subterranean area with a door at the top of the stairs. But when it comes to building the space, people are lost when asked how much they think their renovation will cost to complete.

Just Basements is here to help you understand the theory and process of transforming the empty concrete pool upon which your house sits into a place you can retreat with your family and friends and enjoy during those “oh so long and cold” winter months or scorching summers we Canadians have the pleasure of experiencing.

When deciding to do a whole basement renovation you need to decide if this is going to be a fully integrated space in your house or simply a place to throw the kids. Either way has its merits. If it is simply an area to plunk down your old sofa and TV, maybe thrown down a rug and hang a couple lights, then the cost impact is minimal, but its value and functionality with the rest of the home is also compromised or even negligible. On the other hand, if you want to embrace the space as a fully functioning extension of your castle, then there has to be a bit more planning involved as well as a budget that is in-line with what similar space in your house is worth.

The space you have available in your basement is most likely the same square footage as your main floor. Yes, it also has heating and utilities and posts and beams but it is just as functional as your main floor if you plan it correctly and build it properly. When you decide to move forward with your project, you’ll want to finish the majority of basement with functional living space whilst leaving some dedicated room for the furnace/hot water tank, some storage space for holiday decorations, once a year plates/serving platters as well as a few boxes of clothes and items you will never use again (you know it’s true!). Expect to invest money in the basement like you are investing in another home. You want to have a comfortable, quality, functional finished space (a few rooms, family space, home theatre, office, gym and a bathroom bathroom). Of course, you can use lower grade materials, lesser quality constructors and cut corners to get the price down but isn’t the point of your basement renovation to expand the usability and value of your home? And to the contrary, if you are dead set on installing that fully automated, Bluetooth enabled, gold plated toilet, then you can expect to exceed this budget by whatever amount your heart desires.

In conclusion, whichever path you decide for your basement, make sure your budget is in line with the functionality you expect from the space. Remember, it’s one third of the total space in your home and instead of moving to a larger property you could increase the functionality of your home without ever needing to pack a box, as long as you plan and budget for it correctly.

Scott Wennick is the Project Developer at Just Basements and its upper level division, ARTium Design Build Inc.

Just Basements is Ottawa's premier, award-winning, basement design-build firm. Since 1999 we have focused on nothing but the design and construction of basement living spaces. If you are serious about investing in your basement, investing in your home, investing in your family; we are here to help.

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