Most prospective homeowners already have a plan or a rough idea of their perfectly designed basement. From children’s play areas to elaborate media rooms; basements have become one of the most highly demanded renovations.  This is evident through numerous renovation shows on HGTV geared towards dream basements.

Yet due to its high investment, basement renovations can become a financial burden, especially when purchasing a home with an unfinished one.

Most unfinished basements are made of up wide-open areas. Usually, there is access to the mechanical systems, such as furnaces, boilers and piping.

Before starting a renovation, there are numerous elements to investigate. One of the most common problems in basements is moisture and there are several ways moisture can enter your home.

A previous flood in the basement is a surefire sign of extensive issues. Whether burst piping, sewage backup or heavy rainfall caused the flooding, dealing with the origin of entry is important.

During heavier rain, water can accumulate around a home. Homes at risk include ones next to natural streams, near ditches, or on lower ground. Typically, proper grading on the property will lessen the risk of basement flooding. The solution to floods caused by accumulation of water is usually good waterproofing (which can be incredibly costly).

Once a flood has occurred, mould can develop due to moisture still within the substrates. Mould can grow in ducts, vents, wooden frames, drywall and any other fibrous material. When inspecting for mould, look for water damage (stains, spots) and a musty smell. Once mould is found, it should be removed to reduce health risks.

If your new home’s basement contains vinyl tile, it may have asbestos. Asbestos vinyl tile was commonly used due to durability during the 1950’s. Older homes may still have this form of tile. Most asbestos tile found in Ontario is 9 by 9 inches. Only an accredit lab can determine if you tile is positive for asbestos. Even more, the tile may come back negative but the mastic may come back positive. Asbestos fibres are only harmful when released so if you plan to disturb the flooring, it could be a potential hazard for contractors or yourself.

Lastly, if you’re planning to DIY a renovation, it is important to test the ceilings, walls, etc. before you start work. Asbestos can also be evident in plaster, stucco, etc. More than 240,000 homes in Canada contain asbestos materials according to Canadian Cancer Society. These are only rough estimates.

It is essential to know what issues may lurk in your basement before they arise in order to budget for added expense. Prior to purchasing a home, you should have a proper inspection performed.

Once you know what concerns you’re dealing with (and how to remove them), you can close the deal on your new home.


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