A DIY basement Renovation can be a huge undertaking, financially and in terms of work hours required. However, the basement can also provide some nice extra living space in your home and can cost less to do than adding on an addition to your home. If you are handy with tools, you may think you can turn this into a DIY renovation project.
However, some things are just better left to the professionals and this is one of them. Here are some things you might be able to do yourself when renovating your basement and the things you should call in a professional to do for you.
Start Your Basement Renovation with an Inspection
Before you begin renovating your basement, there are things you should look for. If you’re not comfortable doing this, you should call a professional. It won’t cost that much and it’s well worth it giving you peace of mind and discover what you’re getting in to before you start.
Moisture & Leaks.
Using plastic sheeting, tape 2 foot by 2 foot squares on the floor and walls. And wait for 2 weeks. If you are seeing condensation under the plastic sheeting, your foundation is not sealed. If there is condensation on top of the plastic sheeting, your basement needs to be dehumidified to dry it out.
Rot & insect damage.
Look for rot and insect damage in the floor joists, header joists, wood window frames, and the sill plate. You can check this by using an awl to probe these areas for any weaknesses.
Sagging floor joists.
In order to do this, climb a ladder until you’re eye level with the underside of the floor joists. Look at them perpendicularly to see if any are out of line or not straight.
Carbon monoxide leaks. Fuel-burning equipment and ventilation should be inspected to ensure your home is
safe before work beings.
Depending on what you find in your inspection, you may need to make some repairs prior to remodeling.
Again, some of this you may be able to do yourself, others should be left to a professional.
If you are turning your basement into a livable space, according to code you will need ceilings that are at least 7 feet high, maybe more depending on your jurisdiction. If you don’t have this then you’ll need a contractor to lower the concrete floor. Or, a cheaper option might be moving ducts and pipes. You’ll need a contractor to tell you if this is a possibility and to do the work.
Waterproofing and a DIY Basement Renovation
When it comes to waterproofing your basement you can probably tackle small things like sealing small cracks and gaps around your home and pipes with a concrete compound. You can use hydraulic cement to fill larger cracks inside and outside of your home.
You can add gutters and downspouts to divert gutter water at least 10 feet away from your home’s foundation.
Have a professional repair any cracks that are wider than a pencil. Any major leaks in your home you should reach out to a professional for repair. Doing this repair yourself may lead to problems in the future if you are not familiar with the methods and materials to use.
If the ground is sloping towards the home, you may want to call in a professional to bring in dirt to raise the height so water runs away from the home.
While jobs like moving pipes or redirecting them should be done by a professional, you can insulate pipes before they are boxed up yourself. Putting foam insulation sleeves over hot water heater pipes and cold water pipes will prevent heat loss and prevent condensation from dripping into your new walls.
Speaking of walls, you might be able to do this job yourself, but you must use the right materials. Don’t use standard drywall. Look for a sheet rock that will stand up to mold and mildew.
Interlocking paneled walls are good for DIY projects because it’s less labor intensive and takes up less floor space. However, if you want a more traditional wall this is likely better done by a professional.
And of course, if you found issues with rot, insects, carbon monoxide or sagging floor joists, unless you have extensive experience in fixing these things, you should call in a professional.
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. You can probably handle most minor issues fairly easily. However, complicated jobs such as plumbing, electrical, sagging joists, insects and heavy moisture should be turned over to professionals.
A good way to decide if you need a professional or make it a DIY basement renovation is to ask yourself three things.
- In the worst case scenario, could it kill me?
- Could it destroy my home?
- Does it require special permits?
While chances are, the worst case scenario will not happen, the possibility is there so it’s important to carefully consider whether or not you should do it yourself.
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