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Finishing the basement adds living space, value to home

Turning an unfinished basement into livable space is a great way to add value and space for a variety of activities.

Adding insulation to the basement

Injecting insulation into basement walls

Prior to finishing the basement areas, it is essential to address any potential moisture-related issues to keep the basement as dry as possible. Start outside, making sure the grading is properly built up around the home to ensure storm water is not coming toward the home. This includes having downspout extensions in place so that water from the roof and gutters is discharged at least 8 feet from the home.

Look for any cracks or damage on the foundation wall at the exterior and interior. Review the interior walls and look for any obvious signs of moisture or previous moisture. Make any necessary repairs on the walls, such as using proper sealant on any cracks. Different size and pattern cracks may require different types of repair methods. Consult with a basement specialist, if necessary.

When the walls ready for framing, using fir strips to level out the walls may be a good idea. Installing a vapor barrier on the exterior wall followed by insulation with a vapor barrier on either side will assist with moisture control as well as assist with blocking sound from the exterior.

Once you have vapor barrier and insulation installed along the framed walls, you may consider waiting a few days to install drywall to allow review of potential moisture behind these new materials. This will help identify trouble spots prior to fully finishing the area. When you are ready for drywall, be sure to use a moisture/mold-resistant type as an added advantage.

The potential or risk for moisture will always exist, as Mother Nature can dish out precipitation and flash flooding in a blink of an eye. Depending on the home, a drainage system may or may not be in place. If one is not present, adding interior/exterior drainage tile with a sump pit and pump may be an added benefit. Not all homes will have this system or need this system, as there are variables involved in making that determination.

Being well-prepared will minimize these risks and hazards and hopefully keep the basement dry. These steps are essential for protecting this added living space and the value that comes along with it.

When finishing the basement, be sure to leave access to areas such as main plumbing clean outs and shut off valves. Consider leaving the mechanical area unfinished so the furnace and water heater can be serviced and repaired as needed.