The First Steps for Finishing a Basement

December 17, 2019 Published by Leave your thoughts

Basement finishing in Midland, MI is a home improvement project most homeowners can do themselves, aside from any complex plumbing and electrical components of the job. But turning a basement into a useable space that is both comfortable and visually appealing will take a great deal of research and planning on your part, not to mention a lot of time. Of course, it would be nice to have a chunk of time to complete your basement project in one go. However, the reality is that—like many homeowners—you probably work full time and/or have other responsibilities on your plate. And that’s okay!

Slow and steady wins the race, so don’t worry if the only times you have to work on your basement are evenings and weekends. Here’s what you should do prior to finishing a basement.

Perform tests and inspections

Before starting your basement conversion project, you need to inspect, test and fix a few things:

  • Moisture: Be sure to test your entire basement for moisture. To do this, tape two-foot squares of plastic sheeting to spots on the floor and walls. You will have to wait a couple weeks, but it’s worth it. If, after two weeks, condensation has formed underneath the plastic, your foundation is not sealed well. Meanwhile, if droplets appear on top of the sheeting, your basement is too humid.
  • Floor sagging: To check the floor joists for sagging, get up on a ladder until you’re about eye level with the underside of the joists. Look across them to see if they’re all in a straight line.
  • Insect damage: Use an awl to probe for insect and rot damage in the floor, header and rim joists, the sill plate and wooden window frames.
  • Carbon monoxide: Schedule a professional inspection the check the basement for carbon monoxide buildup below grade. You might have them test for radon, as well.

Height requirements and insulation

On average, local building codes call for seven to seven-and-a-half feet of clearance from the basement floor to the ceiling. If you don’t have that amount of headspace, you might be able to dig out and lower the concrete floor, which is a complex and expensive job. Alternatively, a contractor might be able to move ducts and pipes that are overhead.

Another thing to do in preparation for finishing a basement is insulate pipes before closing them in. The majority of pipes in basements are exposed. While you have easy access, slip foam insulation sleeves over them to prevent heat loss and condensation from dripping inside the drywall.

Plan to waterproof

Homeowners can do a lot of their own waterproofing around the basement area. Consider installing diverters to move water from gutters at least 10 feet from the foundation, and make sure to slope soil away from the foundation as well. Use a concrete patching mix to seal small gaps around pipes, while larger cracks (inside or outside) should be filled with hydraulic cement. Call a professional to inspect cracks wider than a pencil.

These are only some of the steps you need to take before basement finishing in Midland, MI. For answers to your questions or to hire professionals for the job, call the team at Tri City Remodeling!

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