How to Start a Basement Renovation

Brad Smith
Written By Brad Smith

Do you want more space in your home? Maybe the kids are growing up and need a room, or you are starting a home-based business and need an office. You could also want a games room or another finished area for the kids to hang out in. Whatever the reason, square footage is scarce.

If you have an unused basement, it is the right area to fix up and use for various things. Basements are underutilized, but you can quickly transform them with a bit of planning and know-how.

Are you not sure where to begin the process? Here is a helpful guide for basement renovations.

how to start a basement renovation

Begin with a Clean Slate

Any construction project needs space for materials and equipment, so clean the basement before starting. You will need access to the floor to lay out rooms and get a visual sense of what you can do with the space. Also, there may be water damage, leaks, and mould, which must be remedied before beginning your project. 

You may have some furniture and other items that could work in this room, so store those wherever you can in your garage or shed. This is a good time to decide about things you stored in the basement for a while. Keep, sell, donate, or trash the basement contents, then start with an empty room.

Plan Ahead

Now that you have cleared the basement, you will know what to do in the room. You are ahead if you know what you want to use the space for. If not, look for the best way to use the space. Do you want a washroom on this level? Are there multiple rooms?

Put pencil to paper and draw up rough plans, using measuring tape to get accurate dimensions. Consider any windows that bring in natural light because this is where you may want your main socializing area. A solid plan will make your renovation easier and quicker.

Consult Your Family

You may have grand ideas for using the space, but they may not be best for the whole family. You must consider everyone’s basement use, so get input and include their vision.

Have a family meeting and see what everyone wants. Make a list of must-haves and wish lists, then start negotiations. Ultimately, the adults will have the most say, but considering what the children want can get them excited and more involved. You will also gain some additional free labour.

Assemble Your Tools

Unless you hire a contractor to do the work, you will need various tools on hand. These include:

  • Hammer
  • Impact gun
  • Level
  • Utility knife 
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Skill saw
  • Tool belt
  • Measuring tape

These are just the basics, and depending on the extent of your renovation, you will also need drywall and painting tools. Electrical and plumbing require a qualified tradesperson unless you are licensed to do the work yourself.

Create a Budget

You can cost materials once you nail down your layout. Start with framing lumber. It is pretty easy to figure out, and online calculators can help. Your local home improvement store can also be an excellent resource for costs. 

You will have some electrical work to be done and maybe even plumbing, so get a few estimates from local contractors. These are hard costs that you can’t avoid. Other materials to consider include:

  • Insulation
  • Vapour barrier
  • Drywall
  • Tape and mud
  • Flooring
  • Paint
  • Trim
  • Lighting 

Do your best to stick to your budget and remember that you still need furniture and decor.

Determine a Timeline

Renovating a basement will take some time, so decide how many hours you can dedicate and devise a realistic timeline. You will manage your time between your job, family commitments, and relaxation, which can slow down the project and linger. 

If you are eager to get started and wrap it up quickly, consider hiring a construction company familiar with basement renovations. They have the manpower, tools, and skill set to complete your project quickly and professionally.

This is how to start a basement renovation. There is lots of prep work to do, so use this as a guide to ensure you have everything in order. Then, before long, construction will be underway, and you will witness your basement transform into a great usable space.

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Written by Brad Smith

CEO & Lead Interior Designer

Brad Smith is an experienced interior designer and the founder of With a Master's degree in Interior Design from Pratt Institute and a passion for creating safe and healthy living spaces, Brad shares his expert insights and innovative design ideas with our readers. His work is driven by the belief that home is where every story begins.