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Housing prices are still crazy, not to mention the interest rates keep going up. Everything is getting more and more expensive. So many homeowners are opting to do renovations instead of moving. I think this is a great decision, but be smart about it. Do your research, choose the right products and find the right contractor. And take your time. 

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I think you can’t go wrong with updating or refinishing your basement. Most growing families need more room, and you’re investing in your home, which to me, makes sense. 

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No matter what kind of renovation you do, there are many things to consider, especially when renovating a basement. Here are some essential things you need to consider before hiring a contractor. 

Budget is the No. 1 place to start. You don’t need all the bells and whistles, but you don’t want to compromise quality and process by going cheap and spending more on fancy fixtures, furnishings, and electronics. Ultimately, spend your money wisely on the things that matter and will last. Often the bells and whistles can be added later. 

Depending on your finishes and whether a full bathroom is included, the average basement renovation can cost you between $50 and $90 per square foot, and most experts anticipate up to 75 per cent return on investment for your basement makeover. 

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The next thing on your list should be a home inspection. Some renovators include pre- and post-reno inspections as part of their service. That means peace of mind, so you’re not caught off guard by surprises after you’ve started the reno. 

Even if your basement is partially renovated, unfinished or being redone entirely, you must ensure that you have addressed any moisture or water damage issues. There’s no point in spending lots of money on renovations only to have it destroyed by a flood. If your home inspector notices evidence of leaks or moisture intrusion, they will suggest further investigation. 

Get a waterproofing specialist to inspect your basement and follow their advice on any waterproofing methods to prevent further intrusions. And your plumbing should also get inspected if you have plans for a bathroom, wet bar, or kitchen. 

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When discussing materials with your contractor, choosing waterproof and water-resistant materials when remodelling your basement is essential. This includes waterproof flooring and water-resistant underfloor systems. 

I’d also get a Licensed Electrical Contractor to inspect your electrical panel, and depending on what’s included in your renovation, you may need to get some upgrades. Every home needs more storage or at least a more efficient use of storage. When renovating a basement, always consider adding extra storage. 

There’s nothing worse than a poorly lit space, and we’ve all been in our fair share of dim and unwelcoming basements. Recessed lighting is the best solution, but track lighting is also a great option, especially if you have built-in shelves or a bar area. I’d also recommend adding some smart lighting systems, as this can really help create unique zones within the space. 

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Flooring is another essential feature. I like carpet in some areas, especially a bedroom, but my kids always disagree with me on this. Carpet tiles are great as they are easy to install and cost-effective. Plus, if you need to replace an area, it’s much less work. 

Don’t use hardwood — ever. So many other options are just as nice and much more durable and waterproof, like floors with built-in vapour barriers, floating floors in cork, laminate, sheet vinyl and ceramic tile. Yes, tile is cold to the touch, but I love adding in-floor heating to areas like bathrooms and even laundry rooms. 

It may seem obvious but don’t forget about ventilation, especially in basement bathrooms that might not have a window; or in a laundry room. Proper ventilation is essential for good indoor air quality. Some great ventilation fans are on the market, too — they are quiet and even help clean and deodorize the air. 

One thing you should not cheap out on is insulation. Good insulation helps with energy efficiency, reduces water damage and reduces noise. I like using spray foam as it is the most efficient. However, it tends to be the most expensive, so weigh the pros and cons when considering your insulation. 

Remember you don’t get all your wishes at once, but ensure you have a workable budget for the basics and use quality materials and finishes so your renovations will last a long time. Hire the right contractor, use licensed plumbers and licensed electrical contractors — and don’t forget about permits. 

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