When you’re adding a basement next to an existing house, there’s a lot to consider. From making a to-do list for yourself to physically working on the project to hiring the right contractors for the job, tacking a basement onto your house is no small task. In the mix of all of these items on your to-do list (or, perhaps more accurately, your “Honey Do” list if your spouse is the main one tackling all of the major points on it), it can be easy to let some important parts of the process slip through the cracks. No one can keep track of every little thing all the time. That’s why we’re here to share what you absolutely shouldn’t forget to include in your project as you’re adding a basement next to an existing house or somewhere else.
1. Do I Need Professional Help?
When adding a basement next to an existing house or another structure, you might wonder if you have to call in professional help or if you can do it yourself as a home improvement enthusiast. Although many home improvement enthusiasts love completing a project like this on their own, it’s best to at least consult with a skilled basement remodeler. They’ll be able to pinpoint potential issues in installing a basement while also offering guidance on the best steps to take to achieve your goals in constructing the basement.
If you have little to no experience in renovating homes or basement encapsulation, you may want to lean heavier on professional help than someone would if they were a retired contractor or had other experience in the construction industry. On the flip side, let’s say you always worked in the construction industry and received special training in constructing basements. With that, you may simply need to enlist help when you require more manpower than you alone.
The choice to do your basement building or renovation yourself or choose professionals to do the job for you is a deeply personal one. It involves considering your financial situation, technical skills, and preferences. It also entails assessing your skills and abilities honestly. Although you might save some money if you opt to build a basement yourself, you could end up spending time and money in other ways on the project. For example, if you are in over your head on the project and end up getting physically hurt, there are plenty of costs associated with that disaster. You could lose wages from being off work if you don’t have sick leave. You could also rack up costly medical bills that are as expensive or more expensive than the original home renovation would have been. What’s more, you can end up with a half-finished plumbing job or electrical job that needs a professional to finish it anyway.
As you’re determining whether you want to hire professional help or do the job yourself, you should think about the big picture from as many angles as you possibly can. Don’t just think about the money that you’ll spend or save today. Think about your basement as an investment into your future comfort. If you add a basement and convert it into an apartment, it could be an investment in a literal sense since it may increase your opportunities to rent out the space. If the basement adds value to your property, it can also give you a return if you ever decide to sell your home.
One way to tell whether you should do a job yourself or leave it to the professionals is to consider what your skill level might be. As bankrate.com explains, “If you’re looking to save money, there are many things you can DIY during your basement remodel. A lot of what you can do depends on how handy you are and how much you’re willing to work to save.
For example, you might be willing to rip up carpet on your own. It doesn’t require a huge amount of skill but can take some effort. The average carpet removal costs $1 a square foot, so doing it yourself can easily save a few hundred dollars.” Calling in family and friends to do low-skill jobs that cost money to hire professionals to do can save money while creating a family bonding activity. Whatever your choice may be as you’re adding a basement next to an existing home, you’ll be glad that you have this additional space in your home when the job is finished by you or a professional.
2. Choose Appropriate Flooring for a Basement
Unlike other levels of the house, the basement may be more at risk of flooding and water damage in general. For this reason, it might be a good idea to invest in waterproof wood flooring as you work on adding a basement next to an existing house. You’ll want this type of flooring everywhere in the basement to safeguard your basement against water damage related to plumbing issues or natural disasters. From the crawl space waterproofing to the main section of the basement, you’ll want to choose the best waterproofing flooring material.
Before you nail down the type of waterproofing flooring material you want as you’re adding a basement next to an existing house, you should think about how you plan to use the space. If you’re just using the basement as an extra storage area, you will use very different methods to waterproof the floors than you would if it was a playroom for toddlers or a bedroom for your kids. Some flooring options may also be more expensive than others. If your budget is tight, you may have fewer options for waterproof flooring than you would with a higher budget. Of course, you can still select the floor that’s right for you and your family even if you’re not spending as much money on the floors.
For very realistic and durable floors, luxury vinyl tile is a common option. It’s easy to clean and looks better than a concrete floor by a mile. With a little cushion to it, this flooring is easy on the feet, too. Since it’s a luxury product that’s relatively new, it does come at a high cost that puts it outside of the price point for some families as homeowners who are building a basement. Still, it’s a good option that can be worth every penny if it lines up with your goals. Other options like ceramic and porcelain tiles are popular for their classic look. Still, you should be warned that these tiles turn very chilly and could be uncomfortable if they’re used in a bedroom or somewhere else that gets frequent foot traffic.
If you live in North America and want to stay on trend, we have a great recommendation for flooring: Plastic Composite Flooring. As wordofmouthfloors.com shares, “This flooring is an upgrade from engineered vinyl flooring making in some situations, like an uneven concrete subfloor. It (is) the most waterproof vinyl flooring in the market currently. SPC flooring stands out for its waterproof core made of natural limestone powder polyvinyl chloride and stabilizers. Although the flooring is relatively new, it has proven to be resistant to water damage making it ideal for rooms/areas in the home like laundry rooms and basements where moisture and water spills are common.” On top of its waterproof qualities, this flooring is built to last, simple to install, and effortless to maintain. Since it’s a novel material, it can be expensive. But if you have a limitless budget, that won’t be a deterrent.
3. Consider Heating and Cooling Options
When adding a basement next to an existing house, it’s especially important to involve professional HVAC services in the new construction project. Since HVAC systems are complex systems that usually require professionals to go through hours upon hours of training and supervision to specialize in the industry, you’ll want to go to a professional for this task. You may want to hook your basement up to your existing heating and cooling system so that you have continuity. An HVAC professional should be able to tell you whether this is possible or advisable after they inspect your system and review your plans for adding a basement next to an existing house.
If you want to add space heaters to the new basement, you should consult with a new construction electrical services company to see if your home’s system could handle that. Once you’ve made sure that the wiring is safe to use with a space heater or other heating unit, you can review the options that most appeal to you. If you decide to use a space heater, follow safety tips to lower the chance of starting a fire.
You should also select the right sized heater and wattage for the space. For cooling, you can go as simple as a few box fans or as complex as hooking your basement up to the existing forced air cooling system. You can also install window air conditioner units if they seem to fit into the window. Depending on how your basement is configured, window AC units may not be possible to add if your basement is below the ground.
4. Insulate Against Extreme Temperatures
To save money on heating and cooling your basement in the long run, you’ll want to pay some money in the short term to hire contractors from insulation companies. Once your home is properly insulated, you can install air conditioning equipment without worrying about the basement losing all of the cool air you’ve worked hard to get into the space. For insulating basements, contractors have a couple of methods that they are likely to use.
As bobvila.com shares, “Typically, installing basement wall insulation is done using one of two methods. The first method uses furring strips to secure the insulation to the wall, while the second method involves framing out the wall over the insulation. Be sure to check your local building code to determine if a vapor barrier is also required with either method.”
If you’re doing the project yourself, there may be other insulation methods that work better such as using a more rigid material. If this is the first basement you’ve ever built yourself, it might be best to at least consult with a professional before you start using insulation materials. Some materials might be flammable or unsafe to use in your home based on certain risk factors. Others might not comply with local building codes and laws. It’s always better to ask for more help than you think you might need than assume it’ll be fine only to end up with fines or costly damage down the road.
5. Install Proper Plumbing and Sewage Systems
If you’re adding a basement next to an existing house, you know you’ll want to call in plumbing services to make sure that the plumbing system can support a basement. Whether you have a toilet or other plumbing amenities in the basement or you have a plumbing system that connects to the basement, it’s best to make sure that your basement won’t interfere with the functioning of the plumbing system. Your sewer should also be inspected regularly to prevent flooding in the new basement. In this case, it’s recommended that you don’t try to do the plumbing work or sewage system work on your own if you don’t have a background in those areas. This is one of the aspects of building a basement that stretches beyond the scope of what a DIY home improvement enthusiast could usually handle.
As you work through the process of adding a basement next to an existing house, you’re sure to come across bumps along the way. Still, if you follow the guidelines and suggestions above, you’ll be well-prepared to add the basement yourself or build a team of contractors who can support you in this project every step of the way. Once your basement is finished, you’ll be able to enjoy the space for whatever purpose it was intended. Whether you can add toys to the mix so your children have a great toy room or you have a new office in your home where you can do your best work, your basement will be a great addition to your home.