finished basements

Digging out a basement (also known an Underpinning or Basement Lowering) can be an ideal way to add some room or additional living space to your home and can often be less expensive than adding room by going upward or outward, which usually requires special permits and lots of red tape.   The best option can be chosen after considering a few factors such as design, feasibility, function, and the cost.

Why Underpinning is Popular in Toronto

Underpinning is a popular option for homeowners in Toronto due to high real estate prices and the fact properties tend to be on smaller lots.  Who wants to give up precious yard space to an extension?

If you intend on adding a finished basement to your dwelling you’ll also need to consider the stability and safety precautions since they’re different underground when compared to other floors of the home. And you also have to ensure that your basement is fully waterproofed and damp free before finishing your basement.

Starting Basement Dig Out Process - Underpinning

If your home already has a basement with decent ceiling height, then digging it out will be relatively inexpensive compared to starting from scratch. Once you have to start digging down several feet or lift the home to add a basement the cost will generally be comparable to adding a ground-level addition to the home. In general, a basement needs about a seven to eight-foot ceiling along with footing drains and foundation walls. If you currently have a basement with the ceiling height lower than seven feet then a digging will usually need to be done

Concrete and dirt will need to be removed when digging a few feet down and the existing concrete footings will need new ones made below them. In addition, a new concrete slab floor will need to be poured. If the home just has crawl space or the existing foundation isn’t adequate enough, then the house may need to be lifted to pour the slab and foundation walls. You’ll be able to install some form of insulation under a new concrete slab to improve the energy efficiency of the area. The new slab will enable you to place radiant heat tubes in the concrete to help heat the basement. Radiant heat could also be used for the entire home if you choose and it could result in more ceiling height if the old ductwork is removed.

Basement is Dug Out of Toronto Home

An egress, which is basically an emergency exit, should also be created. The local building codes will determine exactly where and how big the egress should be. In many cases, a large window that has a low sill is adequate since people can climb out of it of needed. A door can also be used as an egress which means a new door will need to be installed if the house sits on a sloped lot or a concrete stairwell will need to be dug. The question of connecting to the sewer line also needs to be answered when digging out a basement. If you know how deep the line is you’ll know if the basement can be drained by gravity or if water will need to be pushed upwards with a pump.

walkout-basement-apartment-toronto

Another thing you need to consider is how much light will there be in your basement. If you’re using a window as an egress then the light will be fine in that specific area. But you may prefer adding more windows for additional light and/or a more open feeling in the room as well as glass exterior and/or interior doors. Homes with an existing basement will likely already have exterior or interior stairs for access to it. However, you typically have the option if relocating them if you choose as you may be able to free up some extra space by doing so.

Framing of Basement in Toronto After Being Dug Out

If digging out the basement sounds like the ideal way to add living space to your home, it’s imperative that the area is dry. Some basements have a history of flooding or being wet and damp and this would need to be resolved first. For instance, two inches of rain running off the roof of a 2,000 square-foot house can produce more than 2,000 gallons of water. To help solve flooding in a basement, it’s important there are no cracks in the foundation, the gutters aren’t clogged, and the ground doesn’t slope towards the home.

Finishing a walkout basement in Toronto

There are several solutions to a wet basement such as excavating around the home’s perimeter as well as installing drains along the inside of basement walls. For more information and advice on Underpinning your basement  please feel free to contact our team of foundation-repair professionals at Nusite Contractors for a free inspection and written estimate. Our work is fully certified, insured, and guaranteed as well as made to last.  We serve Toronto and the surrounding GTA.

There are many benefits to having a finished basement, but it can often be one of the most forgotten rooms in the house. If you are thinking about finishing your basement, consider that a finished basement can add value to your house, increase your usable space, and be a fun and flexible room for family gathering, crafting, or even just better organized storage.

In a city like Toronto, real estate is a premium, so adding living space on your existing land is more economical and saves you from expanding into your already small backyard. Look at your basement and think of all the possibilities that it holds –a finished basement give you many benefits as a homeowner, from increased sales value to a higher quality of life at home.  And if you don’t have a full height basement, you can consider a basement lowering project to turn your unfinished basement into a wonderful living space.

Basement Lowering Toronto Finished Basement

Increase the Value of Your Home

Your basement may be a low priority on your list for home renovations and updating. It can be hard to imagine spending a significant amount of money renovating your basement, but consider that a finished basement can add to the dollar value of your house. A finished basement can often be included in the official square footage measurements of your home. Even if it isn’t considered in the square footage, potential buyers will see the finished basement as additional living space. Renovations and additions in the basement such as kitchenettes or spare bedrooms will further increase the value of your home.

 

Create More Space

A basement will add a great amount of functionality to your home. A finished, usable basement is often a large, open space that can be used as extra living space, such as a playroom or a family room. If you choose to partition your basement into rooms you will find that you can have extra bedrooms, a home office, workout room, or even storage, without cutting into the square footage of the upper floors.

 

Add Convenience

A functional and finished basement can be a surprisingly valuable addition to your everyday life. You are ultimately adding another floor to your house, and creating unexpected space that can be creatively used. Having the ability to host guests, create extra storage space, and even add another bathroom can greatly increase the ease and convenience of your daily life. A finished basement can easily double as a “guest suite” or place for extended visits from family and friends.

 

Flexible Design & Decorating

A basement design can be quite flexible. Large, open spaces can be used for entertainment, guests, storage, or even a gym. You may find that a finished basement gives you a creative place to decorate, and that you can easily create a cozy and comfortable addition to your house without the constraints of your already designed upstairs floors. Consider adding game rooms, extra bathrooms, and exciting home decor ideas to your finished basement. The design and use of a finished basement can easily change and adapt with your needs, making it a great use of space.  Working with a quality design build contractor can make the design and construction process easy.

 

Economical and Comfortable

A finished basement is nearly always a great place to spend time, no matter how you use it. It will always be colder in the summer, and warmer in the winter. Consider having a family room in the basement for cozy nights by the fire, or a bedroom that stays cool all summer long so you don’t have to crank the air conditioner all night!  The basement can be an incredibly comfortable –and economical- space to spend time.

Increased Storage and Organization

Most people have storage in their basements and garages, and these areas can easily grow cluttered and hard to use. A finished basement can still provide storage, but instead of mildewed boxes, you can install attractive and functional shelving. Imagine a laundry room you love, and a workshop you can really use, instead of piles of boxes and corners filled with cobwebs. A finished basement can provide additional storage, shelving, and increase general organization.

 

Health and Safety

A finished basement easily eliminates damp and moldy basement areas. Most basements can succumb to water problems, toxic mold, and can be hard to inhabit. Finishing your basement can help eliminate water problems, mold, and moisture problems. This can have long term positive implications on your family’s health, as well as the overall condition of your house.

Cost & Efficiency

Adding another level or room to your house can be expensive. Rather than add on to your house, renovating your basement can create a usable room without the additional cost of a full addition. It can greatly increase your home value without sinking a lot of money into adding on a room or floor.

 

Not only are finished basements comfortable, they are economical. If you are considering upgrading or renovating your house, think about the lifestyle and investment opportunities that a finished basement can provide. From an additional room for entertainment, to a long-term investment in the overall value and condition of your home, a basement addition can have a long-lasting impact on your lifestyle and the value of your home.

Even a finished basement can contain high pollution levels and since these pollutants rise due to their buoyancy they can often invade the living space on the upper floors. Basements often have a bit of a musty smell to them and this is because certain types of wallboard and carpeting absorb moisture through the home’s foundation via a process known as capillary action.

This results in excess humidity and moisture which can be absorbed by the insulation. In some instances, excess moisture can lead to visible or invisible mold in the basement.

If a basement suffers water damage it can result in mold which releases pollutants into the air and can keep growing even after the room has dried. This, in turn, will result in a musty smell, especially if the basement has poor ventilation. Unfinished basements also become musty since they usually contain a certain amount of dirt, dust, and debris which can encourage the growth of mold and bacteria. To make matters worse, invisible particulate matter or debris in the air can damage your lungs and enter your bloodstream and are certainly unhealthy.

Other pollutant causes of a musty basement could include things such as fiberglass insulation, dank crawl spaces, Radon gas, and volatile organic compounds such as fertilizer bags and paint cans. If you notice a musty odour from the basement it’s recommended you have the air tested by a mold professional or specialist. Professionals can identify the cause of the moisture and smell and come up with a solution to eliminate it, resulting in a healthier and fresher smelling basement.

The aim is to eliminate the moisture from the basement and increase its airflow. If your basement is unfinished with a dirt floor the floor should be covered with a plastic sheet and wire mesh before covering it with a thin layer of concrete. If the basement has a concrete floor you may need a waterproofing solution if water or moisture is seeping into it. If the basement is filled with mold you may need to have it removed by a professional mold removal company.

If mold is left to grow it could eat through basement insulation, wood framing and other structures and materials. A good ventilation system is also needed as it removes the musty air and replaces it with fresh air. You may need to install an exhaust fan along with a dehumidifier/air purifier and open any windows to increase airflow. If you hire a professional to find and eliminate the source of your musty basement there are a few steps you can take to keep the area as fresh as possible once the job has been completed.

Make sure your downspouts and gutters aren’t clogged as water that pools around your home can start to smell unpleasant. You might also want to send the water further away from your home by installing extensions on the downspouts. This will help keep water from seeping into your basement from the ground near the house. You can also keep the basement air fresh by cleaning it out and throwing away all unneeded items which could absorb moisture, mold and mildew. If the basement is unfinished you can then clean the surfaces with soap and water as well as bleach, white vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide.

Some unpleasant odours can be absorbed by items such as baking soda, white vinegar, zeolite, charcoal bricks, and cat litter. If you place one or a combination of these items in the basement the air should stay fresher. Just be sure to replace them every two or three months. Another option is to place an ionizer downstairs. These devices are designed to remove bad odours by releasing ions in the air.  If you plan on hiring a general contractor or a design build contractor to finish your basement, then you must ensure the damp issues are cleared up before installing your drywall and flooring.

But in the long run, it’s going to be difficult to rid your basement of a musty odour if you don’t find the source of it and have it rectified. If you’re having a hard time locating the reason for your moist or wet basement please don’t hesitate to contact us at Nusite Waterproofing. Our team of professional basement waterproofers will be able to find the cause of the problem and also provide you with the best solution for it.

 

As a basement waterproofing and mold removal company here in Toronto, we’re often called to basement leaks where we find mold infestation behind the sheet rock walls, embedded in the insulation behind it.

So how do you properly insulate a basement?

That’s a question that begs another question. The second one is “what are you going to use your basement for?” If it’s general storage ( I’m assuming it’s already waterproofed) you may be able to get away with wall-bag insulation (generally not recommended) that reaches at least two feet below ground level.

One thing you need to make sure of is that your basement is waterproofed and water is not going to seep through your foundations and ruin your finished walls once they are installed.  If you currently have water or damp issues in your basement, these need to be addressed before finishing your basement.

In certain cases, like having no access to the exterior of the foundation to repair the water leaks, an interior weeping tile system can be installed to remove water as it enters your basement, keeping your finished walls and basement dry.

However, if you’re planning a basement that’ll be used as living space, then you’re going to need to fully insulate the walls and floor. If it this was previously done inadequately, you might have to throw everything away and start afresh. In the end, it’s your choice how far to go.

In this regard, it’s relevant to mention a general tendency to tighten building regulations. We find it remarkable that some homeowners go to great expense when it comes to finishing the upstairs living spaces, yet skimp on basement basics, especially when a moldy basement can lead to extensive repairs and the loss of quality living space in the home.

Essential Principles

  • You need insulation that works all year round to keep your basement warm in winter, and humidity-free during summer months.

 

  • Ground temperature drops as you go deeper underground. When different wall-temperatures mingle, you get condensation that encourages mold.

 

  • Insulated panels between battens covered by a vapour barrier work great above ground where the outside temperature is consistent.

 

  • However in this instance they don’t have to counter a variety of different temperatures that combine to cause humidity and mold below ground.

The Correct Way to Insulate

We believe in doing things the correct way, and right from the beginning. You should install rigid foam insulation that comes ship-lapped, so there are no butt-joints that admit air that mingles with the inside temperature. The correct thickness is one inch on the floor, and two inches on the walls.

It’s equally important to glue the panels directly to walls and floors with the correct foam-rated adhesive, so they are not damaged during installation. Joints must be taped over, and the slightest gaps at edges filled with spray foam.

Once your basement is comprehensively insulated, you can go ahead and install studs for your decorative paneling  If you believe in belts-and-braces, you could add mold-resistant drywall.

How This Works

Rigid foam creates a thermal break that’s impenetrable. You’ll find the same material in those handy coolers that keep your cans chilled without dripping condensation. Toilet tanks lined with rigid foam follow the same principles.

When you apply this approach to your basement insulation, you create a similar barrier. In winter the room stays warm. In summer there’s no humidity, or mold caused by the different temperature outside.

The extra price you pay up-front for this should provide a healthier environment for many years to come, and allow you to enjoy the extra living space that a dry and mold free basement provides.

Have questions about mold or moisture problems in your home?  Nusite Waterproofing has been waterproofing and renovating basements for over 30 years in Toronto.  We offer free, in-home estimates and inspections.  Feel free to contact us here, we’re happy to answer any questions you have.

Radon in Toronto Home Graphic

Many Toronto area homeowners have heard of radon, but aren’t exactly sure what it is and how serious of a health problem it may pose. Radon is a natural radioactive gas which can be found in the ground when radium and uranium  decays. On average, there may be up to 50 pounds of uranium in the ground in an acre of land and it decays into radium, which in turn naturally decays into radon. Radon by itself doesn’t pose any health hazards since it’s an inert gas. However, the gas can decay into lead and polonium articles which are both radioactive and chemically active. The radioactive particles can then be breathed into your body and lodge in your trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Human cells can be disrupted and mutated by the radiation and this can eventually cause lung cancer. In fact, it’s estimated that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in America.

Radon Systems Toronto

Radon is odourless and invisible can find its way into a home by creeping through small spaces in the rock and soil which the house sits on. It can also seep into a building through floor drains, dirt floors and sump pits as well as any cracks in the basement floor, foundation, and foundation walls. A level of 70,000 atoms in each litre of air can be a cause for concern as it represents approximately two million atoms of radon in a cubic foot of air. Even though this is a low concentration of atoms in the air radon is dangerous because it’s radioactive. Humans breathe approximately 20 litres of air into their lungs per minute which results in about 10,000 atoms of radioactive radon each minute. This exposure to the gas can then lead to lung cancer.

CDC Stata Radon Deaths

Testing for Radon
The best way to find out if there’s radon present in your home is to have a professional contractor conduct a test. Short-term tests take between two and seven days with a charcoal accumulator system while long-term tests can take between three and 12 months and are carried out with an electrets or by alpha track. First time testing is usually the short-term option. It’s important that you have a qualified technician conduct the test so the proper mitigation system can be installed if the radon level is too high.

If there’s too much radon in your home there are several ways to alleviate the problem. One of the most common is known as a sub-slab depressurization system which includes the installation of fans and pipes. This system is designed to prevent the radon gas from seeping into the building below the foundation and concrete floor. Other methods can be used to rid the home of radon and these will typically depend on the design of the building. Also, radon can creep into homes of any age and also those which don’t have a basement.

Dangerous levels of radon in a home mean it’s time to take action. Having a home tested is easy and relatively inexpensive. While you may be able to find do-it-yourself test kits you may feel more confident by hiring a professional contractor to carry out the test with specialized equipment. A qualified technician will advise you on the most effective way of ridding your home from its specific level of radon. You may also want to have a professional contractor test for radon before buying a home to make sure level is acceptable. In addition, some new homes are being built with radon-resistant features.

To find out more about radon testing and how to properly eliminate the potentially dangerous gas please feel free to contact us at Nusite Waterproofing at your convenience. We’ll be able to fully test your home for radon levels and then install the correct system for keeping it at bay and keeping your home as healthy as possible.