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3 min read

Meeting with a contractor specializing in basement renovations


3 min read

Meeting with a contractor specializing in basement renovations

BasementRenovation tradesMeeting with a contractor specializing in basement renovations followed home renovation contractor Ali Nazar on the job at the site of a basement renovation project in Montreal. Check out this interview to know more about the subject of basement renovations.

What are the most important things to keep in mind when renovating a basement?

The most important element pertaining to basement renovation projects is the floor: you have to be careful about its state and its structure. For example, if the concrete slab shows cracks, you have to repair them because they are a big source of humidity. 

On this particular renovation site, we have installed layers of engineered wood on top of a layer of tar paper, above the concrete slab, with at least 3 inches between the concrete slab and the tar paper.

This system allows air to flow, thus decreasing the level of humidity in the room. Engineered wood is different than other floating floors. Since it is flexible and durable (at least 15 years), it is a very suitable material for basement floors. 

Other materials like linoleum or ceramic tiles are also good alternatives. Hardwood should never be used in this case:  it won’t resist more than 5 years due to the basement's humidity.

Basement renovation: before Basement renovation: after
Rénovation de sous-sol avant_basement renovation before Rénovation de sous-sol après_basement renovation after

Like what was done for the floors, we have left an empty space between the insulating material and the wall (at least 2 feet) to allow proper airflow. For everything else, renovating a basement is quite similar to renovating any other part of the house. Basement walls, usually made of concrete, should also be well isolated. The same insulation materials that are used in the rest of the house can be used in the basement. 

How much does a basement renovation cost?

The price can vary a lot depending on the size of the basement, the materials that are chosen and the type of renovations you plan to do. It can cost anywhere between $10 000 and $35 000. For this project, we charged about $20 000$ (including the materials and the cost of labour).

Planning to renovate your basement?

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How much time does it take to renovate a basement?

It all depends on the magnitude of the project. For this site, it has taken us about 10 days to finish everything.

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What are the pros of a basement renovation?

One of the major advantages is that you’ll have less humidity in your basement. Since humidity can cause severe damage to the house's structure, especially for old constructions that tend to be less resistant to humidity, most people who want to renovate their basement ask us to improve that aspect first. Also, if you renovate your basement, you’ll gain more space in your house. It can become a playroom for children and grown-ups, or even a bedroom or a rental unit.

Before After
Sous-sol avant_soumissionrenovation_basement renovation before Sous-sol après_soumissionrenovation_basement renovation after

What are the cons of a basement renovation?

The only drawback I could see is the price! Indeed, like most of the other rooms in a house, basement renovations can cost a lot. Therefore, you should plan a realistic budget if you want to renovate your basement.

 Watch the basement renovation video made by

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Last modified 2023-01-24

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24 min read

Léa Plourde-Archer 03 Apr 2020

Checklist of the Steps to Follow: Basement Renovation Project

We have been building habitats below the earth for thousands of years. From caverns to catacombs and mysterious passageways, subterranean living areas are a special area of the home, with a building process that presents interesting challenges. To create a liveable space in a basement, the needs of the people who will be using it have to be taken into account, particularly regarding ventilation and luminosity. This is even more true if the layout is intended for long-term and constant use. We have written dozens of articles about basement renovation projects on our blog. To help you organize your project, whether small or large-scale, we have prepared this article that compiles essential information and is meant to help you manage the different steps that are a part of the project. This guide can be used whether you decide to hire contractors or you want to carry out the work yourself. Would you like to access the checklist directly? Click here! We also have a version that is already filled out to give you an idea of how to use it (click here). Before you launch the project Whether the project has already been started or you’re still thinking about the basic elements, you must make sure you have clear objectives. The following paragraphs will serve to guide you in your brainstorming process. The keywords for basement renovation projects Source: Canva Efficiency The basement is a space that can fulfill different roles. It can be turned into a family room, a bedroom, an individual apartment, a workshop, storage space, a home theatre and so many other possibilities. In any case, the main goal when thinking about organizing this space is efficiency. If you are going to use this space, why not make the most of it? Comfort If you plan on creating an environment where you or your close ones will be living, you must prioritize comfort. This means thinking about ventilation, the presence of natural light, the humidity level, air quality, the materials that will be used to cover the surfaces and so on. Budget The budget is an important factor for all renovation projects but it is especially essential to think about it for a basement renovation project, especially if the process involves an excavation process or a crawl space that is not liveable. Indeed, you’ll have a hard time managing this type of project with a small budget and creating a liveable space that meets building standards and offers a secure space in the long run. How to determine your needs Source: Canva If you have decided to renovate your basement, you probably have a basic idea of what you are trying to achieve with this transformation. You may have started looking at home decor magazines, saving photos on Pinterest and drawing plans using design software. Now is the time to delve deeper into the subject before you start working on tangible things. Instead of wanting too much to recreate what others have done, think about what you need. Establish a list of criteria and check with experts to see whether it is realistic. Here are a few examples of criteria: Maximizing the luminosity Creating storage rooms Closed rooms or loft space Separate entrance from the outside? In the following section, we will present a list of questions that you can ask yourself to develop your thoughts. The questions to ask yourself when planning your basement renovation project Is the basement already accessible? This first question may seem obvious, but it is still important to take into account the fact that the renovation or transformation project will be very different if we’re starting with a basement that already exists or a basement that hasn’t been excavated and built. A whole series of steps will have to be added to the process and the budget will be much higher! Keep reading the list of questions to get a clearer idea of the process for building a new basement or refurbishing one that already exists. If we have to excavate to build the basement, is the land suited for this process? Before anything else, you have to know whether the excavation is possible or if it will be more complicated due to the nature of the land underneath the home. This could make the basement construction project impossible or much more complicated than expected. Here is an article about this subject: Basement excavation project: creating extra living space Do I want to expand a space that already exists (basement or crawlspace)? Some homes are equipped with half-basements or crawlspaces. These areas can be used for storage, but will not work as an accessible living environment. It is possible to transform these areas into a finished basement. To do this, you should follow this advice: What is a crawlspace and how to know if your house needs one Will the foundations and house structures need to be modified? If you have to excavate your land and modify the structure of your home, you will most certainly need to do something with your foundation. This is even more true if you are living in an old home. Different techniques can be used to dig and reinforce the structure. Here is an article about underpinning a home, which is a technique you may want to consider: Taking on a house with underpinning work: what to know And here are a few articles about the different techniques to reinforce structures: How to strengthen the structure of a building Will you need to add windows? According to the law, unless your basement is equipped with sprinklers or a door that leads to the outside, having windows is mandatory and some of these must be usable as emergency exits. In your layout plan, you will have to think about the areas where these windows will be located. If you already have windows that are there, you may want to replace them with models that are better suited to your new decor. Here is an article you can read about basement windows: How to replace your basement windows Door and Window Renovation Guide Increasing the amount of light in your basement How much space is available/ how much space do I wish to occupy? When you are organizing your basement renovation project, you should think about the layout you are looking to create. Where will the walls be located? What will the rooms be used for? Here are some articles that will help you reflect on this question: 5 ways to convert your basement Basement finishing project: what you need to know Will you be installing a bathroom or kitchen? Kitchen and bathrooms will involve modifying the plumbing and electrical systems of your home. Therefore, if your basement transformations include either or both of these rooms, you will have to consider that. Will there be a door that leads outside? For a basement to be considered habitable, building norms require at least one easily accessible emergency exit. In most cases, it doesn’t have to be a door. A window that is big and that opens from inside will work. However, if the basement includes an individual apartment, especially if the house is considered a multigenerational home, you’ll need to think about installing an independent door providing access to the outside. This is another factor to take into account when organizing the project. What type of staircase will be used to connect the basement with the upper floor? In most cases, you will have to install a staircase and build a stairwell that provides access to the basement. This might affect the layout of the upper floor, causing you to lose a little bit of space. Consult an interior layout expert (architect, interior designer, specialized contractor) to determine which type of staircase would be best adapted for your home. Will you be installing a spiral staircase? A straight staircase? A quarter-turn staircase? In another section of this article, we will talk about the different options for staircase models and materials. Working with a contractor for a basement renovation project Source: Canva This guide will help you if you decide to take on the work yourself but know that for a large-scale project like this one, we strongly recommend that you hire contractors. This tip is even more important if you are working on a big project. If your project involves building and setting up a full basement, you should think about hiring a general contractor. They will be able to act as a conductor of sorts for the project, as they will be there to manage the other contractors and make sure the desired result is achieved. In general, these contractors offer turnkey renovation projects. For the types of projects they can’t carry out themselves, they have contacts to find the specialized contractors you will need to go about the work. You can act as a manager for the project, by overseeing the different steps of the project and the contacts with contractors. This is a considerable amount of work and it can be done, but it will require a lot of time. One important thing to remember: you must always have written contracts with your contractors. Would you like to know why? Check out our article: Renovation Project: 3 Reasons to Sign an Official Contract. Check out this interview with a contractor who was working on a basement renovation project: Basement renovation: meeting with a contractor One important thing to remember is that you should always have written contracts with your contractors. Would you like to know why? Check out our article Renovation Project: 3 Reasons to Sign an Official Contract. Who are the types of experts you might have to work with for a basement renovation project? Depending on the type of work to be done, here is a list of contractors with whom you may have to do business for a basement renovation project: Cabinetmaker Foundation expert Plumbing Electrician Structural expert Painter Flooring expert Demolition expert Excavation specialist Air conditioning and heating experts Exterior siding specialists Soundproofing and insulation specialists. And let’s not forget interior designers, architects and engineers. All about the budget for a basement renovation project You might be consulting this article for a small-scale renovation project. However, chances are that the project you are organizing is pretty big. This means that you will certainly fork out a considerable amount of money to carry out your project. It’s hard to give precise numbers, but in our article The costs to remodel a basement we present a few numbers to give you a general idea. The most important thing to remember is that the best way to stay on top of things in terms of finances is to calculate an ideal budget and a maximum budget. When you are making this calculation, don’t forget to take into account labour costs, materials and a portion representing 15% of the total amount for unplanned expenses. Our article How to establish a realistic renovation budget? will give you a few ideas on how to prepare your budget. Otherwise, you can talk to the contractors and experts you will meet. You can also use our cost calculators to get an idea of certain prices for projects that will be a part of your project: KITCHEN FLOORING BATHROOM WINDOWS PAINT Do not hesitate to check out our home renovation price guide that could be very useful. The plans for your basement renovation project Source: Canva You must never start a large basement transformation project without having a plan on paper (or on the computer) that will serve as a blueprint to guide the process. This plan could be created by a general contractor, an interior designer, an architect, a technologist or an engineer, depending on the type of work. The difference between an architect and an architectural technologist And check out our article Plan for a renovation project: who should you contact? Excavating the ground to build a basement – is this a home extension project? Earlier in this article, we mentioned that you may have to dig out the ground to build your basement. We have a complete article about this subject so you can learn more: Basement excavation project: creating extra living space It is also relevant to share the following paragraphs from our article on home extension projects: It's important to mention that you must make sure you are always complying with the law for your renovation projects and this is especially true for large-scale projects like home additions. Know that in Quebec, home extension projects are subject to bill R-20 and thus imply certain obligations. For example, if you decide to oversee the home extension project yourself, this law indicates that you then become the employer of the workers that are taking on your project. Therefore, you must comply with several requirements from the CCQ (Commission de la Construction du Québec). You can check out the CCQ website for updated information on this subject. If you neglect to comply with these rules, you will be exposed to fines and legal proceedings. It should be mentioned that CCQ agents are highly gifted in finding wrongdoers! You may very well receive a visit on your worksite and be required to prove that your project is following the law. If you decided to hire a contractor to oversee the project, make sure they have the right licence to carry out the work. For example, they should only hire workers that have competency cards delivered by the CCQ. Other provinces of Canada Every province has different building regulations for home extension projects. We will soon add information about the different rules that apply in each of the provinces covered by the platform. For now, we invite you to check out your government websites for up-to-date information. Alberta: Alberta Building Code and Standards Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia Building Code Regulations Ontario: Ontario Building Code Building standards for a basement construction or renovation project If you decide to launch your basement renovation project without being aware of the current building standards, you may have a hard time obtaining permits and you will even be exposed to fines if an inspector notices anything. Standards vary from one city to another, so we can’t share any specific information here as our readers live across the country. We invite you to check out your city’s website, as this type of information can often be found there. For more details, you can contact them directly. Lastly, know that the contractors who work in your area should be aware of the standards that are currently in effect. You can address this subject with them. The permits that are required for a basement renovation project Some projects require a permit. For a basement transformation project, you will need to get permits from your municipal authorities. To learn more, check out this article: How to know which building permits you need for your project Building an apartment in a basement Source: Canva There are many things to take into account when we decide to build an apartment in a basement. First of all, it should be noted that we can’t set up an independent accommodation without taking into account municipal by-laws, especially if you want the apartment to have an independent address (for example, if you want to have a tenant). We’ve written a complete article about setting up a basement apartment and we invite you to check it out to learn more about this subject: Creating a basement apartment: what to know! Choosing a colour for your basement Setting up a home cinema, a recording studio or a workshop in your basement The basement offers an environment that is intimate and soundproof, which is why many people decide to use this area for setups that benefit from these characteristics, such as home theatres, workshops, recording studios and home offices. For home recording studios, soundproofing is key. You can hire soundproofing experts to find the materials and techniques that will suit your needs and your budget. Concerning workshops and home offices, be sure to create an environment that is welcoming and that fosters comfort and productivity. If the activity you are planning on carrying out in this space requires good air circulation (example: if you are using products that contain a high level of volatile organic compounds), make sure that you take this aspect into account to avoid creating an environment that is harmful to your health. Installing a kitchen or a bathroom in a basement If you aim at building an apartment in your basement, you will want to install a kitchen and a bathroom. The main elements to take into account when building this type of room inside a basement are the following: Weatherproofing Air circulation (ventilation) and dehumidifying Installing new plumbing and electricity systems Insulation Lighting We also have checklists for kitchen and bathroom renovation projects that you can check out: Kitchen renovation project: checklist of the steps to follow Bathroom renovation project: checklist of the steps to follow Connecting a basement with a garage: what to take into account Having a basement that is connected to a garage is quite common. In this case, to create a safe environment, you have to be especially careful about the air quality. If the insulation, caulking and ventilation are ill-conceived, polluting elements from the garage could penetrate inside the living space. Check out this article: Building an attached or a detached garage Weatherproofing your basement To ensure a safe environment, make sure your basement is adequately weatherproof. One of the worst nightmares for a homeowner is water infiltrations. Even minor infiltrations can have a negative impact in the long run and this isn’t even talking about flooding which can destroy the whole structure of the house. With this in mind, it is important to evaluate what your house needs, such as installing a french drain, using materials that help weatherproof the foundations and the concrete slab, as well as properly caulking around the different openings. Here are a few articles you can check out to learn more about this subject: Steps for keeping your basement dry and waterproof What is a French Drain? Steps for keeping your basement dry and waterproof What you should do if you notice a water infiltration in your basement Pyrite, radon gas and other potential issues that often come up with basements When you are renovating a basement, certain problems with potentially major consequences may occur, leading to obstacles during the work or at a later time. Examples include discovering pyrite which could cause the renovation project to be stopped or a lack of ventilation which could increase the amount of radon gas that leaks into the house. For all of these problems, there are solutions. The first thing to do is to be aware of them: What is pyrite? Iron ochre: the toxic enemy Radon ingress: how to recognize it and what to do about it Price of a decontamination project The types of materials for a basement renovation or construction project Source: Canva Basement insulation materials When selecting an insulation material for a basement, it is especially important to avoid products that store too much humidity and that could be prone to mould. In the following articles, you will learn more about the different materials available on the market and their characteristics: The cost of insulation: materials and techniques Once you’ve read these articles, you will be well equipped with information when comes the time to meet with insulation experts! Basement soundproofing Whether you’re planning on installing a bedroom, a home cinema, an apartment or a home office, soundproofing will be key in creating a pleasant environment. Here is a full article on this subject: How to soundproof a basement insulation and soundproofing guide Everything You Need to Know About Soundproofing Floors and subfloors When it comes to choosing the floor covering materials for a basement, you must not forget to think about the subfloor. This layer will play an important role in creating a comfortable environment and expanding the lifespan of the construction materials used in the basement. For example, you may have to install a vapour barrier and/or an air barrier. Moreover, some materials should be avoided in the basement, such as hardwood. Installing a heated floor is possible but the process can be more complicated than in other parts of the home, especially in older homes. Here are some of the better options: Ceramic Vinyl Engineered wood Stratified wood And here are a few articles that are relevant to look at: Price guide: flooring materials 5 Flooring Materials for the Basement A short guide to the different types of subfloors and sub-layers of floors 10 affordable flooring materials 7 flooring materials (that are alternatives to wood) Wallcovering materials As is the case with flooring, some wall covering materials will be less appropriate for basements. Remember that the walls have to be able to breathe. If you decide to install decorative panels, you will probably need to include protective layers such as a vapour barrier and an air barrier. Looking for ideas for your basement walls? Check out our guide: Paint and wall covering renovation guide Staircases If there isn’t a staircase to connect the basement with the main floor of your home, you will need to think about this aspect quite early on, as this is one of the main elements of the project. Indeed, building a staircase and a stairwell will have a major impact on the layouts of both the first floor and the basement. A layout specialist such as an interior designer or an architect could guide you in this sense. Here are a few articles about the different types of staircases: 7 unique staircase designs for your home 10 renovation projects to transform your staircase Staircase renovation tips: from installation to maintenance Plumbing and electricity in a basement If you want to create a basement that is inhabitable, you will want to install or improve plumbing and electrical systems. This is even more important if your project involves setting up a complete apartment or a space that is equipped with a bathroom. The installation process will be very different depending on where you are starting with your project. For example, if you haven’t built the concrete slab, you may have to install certain parts of the system before you start working on it. To get a better idea of the course of action to adopt, you will need to consult experts. They will be there to help you make the best decisions with regard to the types of installations that should be carried out. Here are a few relevant articles you may want to check out: How much do plumbing renovations cost? Everything you need to know about kitchen plumbing How to tell when it’s time to renovate your electrical panel Cost of electrical renovations Reasons to hire an electrician: indoor projects Basement doors and windows in a basement For a basement to be considered inhabitable, you will have to adhere to certain standards, including window installation. If you plan on including a door that leads to outside, you will also have to exercise specific precautions. For example, you will need proper caulking to avoid water infiltrations through doors or even windows. Here is a list of articles to check out when you will be thinking about the doors and windows you will be integrating into your basement: 7 Different Window Styles for Your Home How to replace your front door: step by step instructions Basement ventilation Another important aspect when looking to create a comfortable living environment is ventilation. You have to tightly control the air quality and the humidity level in your basement to avoid the spreading of mould and other problems such as radon gas. Decorating a basement Some people will look forward to reaching this step. When designing the decor in the room(s) of your basement, you can have fun and go according to your taste, but you should also follow some criteria: Find a way to maximize the amount of natural light coming in Chose materials with a low level of volatile organic compounds to ensure good air quality Everything is a question of taste of course but to avoid creating an environment that is too stifling, it’s best to opt for lighter shades and a smaller amount of furniture An interior designer could help you create a dream decor that answers your needs and maximize the room’s potential. Need ideas for your basement decor? Here are a few articles that could be useful, as well as a link to our Pinterest account where we gather photos of interesting decors: 10 renovation projects to transform your basement 5 quick and easy renovations to improve your basement Our articles on design and home decor Our Pinterest The basix toolbox for your basement renovation project Source: Canva Regardless of whether you have decided to hire a contractor or to do certain things on your own, you should have access to some basic tools to be able to make repairs later and/or to contribute to the project such as: A drill Pliers Oscillating saw A multi-headed screwdriver A hammer with short handle An adjustable wrench A siphon A box of finishing nails A tape measure. How a basement renovation project could have an impact on your everyday life Here are the questions that you will need to ask yourself when building or renovating a basement and the process may affect your daily life. Will I be staying home during the renovation? Will the work affect the rest of the house? How much time will the project last (if everything goes well)? Do I have any solutions if the work lasts longer than planned? Check out these articles for more on this subject: 6 tips to manage stress related to home renovations From the ground up: stages of a renovation project Checklist to use for your basement renovation project

5 min read

Karine Dutemple 24 Mar 2020

Basement Window Regulations

Are you thinking about converting your basement into a living space? It goes without saying, but for every element within this particular level, windows are submitted to an array of rules and regulations established by the Construction Code. For more insight on the matter, here is the current regulation regarding basement windows. We have prepared a quick memory aid to help guide you through the various steps of the project. Click here to check it out and bookmark it! Current Basement Window Standards Source; Canva Converting a basement section into a bedroom If your intention is to convert a section of your basement into a bedroom, bear in mind that the space will need to have at least one exterior-facing window. And, its surface area must be at least 3.75 square feet and 15 inches high. These standard dimensions have been instilled so that, in case of an emergency, an average-sized adult can crawl through the space. For security measures as well, the window must not need any type of support to be held open nor should it require a key or any other particular skill. If your window opens out onto a well, it should therefore benefit from at least 30 inches of clearance in front of the opening. In other words, if your window opens outwardly, the clearance space should not be diminished by this factor. Also, note that current regulations in regard to the aforementioned fact can vary from one borough to the next. Therefore, ensure to check with the concerned parties before jumpstarting your basement renovation project. As for the window’s height, note that, ideally, it must be less than 1.5 metres off the ground, although there are no set regulations when it comes to this matter. For those who cannot meet this standard, bear in mind that you can proceed differently by positioning a piece of furniture right below the window sill. In case of an emergency, the occupant(s) will be able to climb through for a quick and easy escape. Also, avoid installing security bars on the window. If your basement bedroom is equipped with a fire sprinkler system, note that the above-mentioned requirements do not apply. Looking for specialists for your window renovation project? Fill out the form so that we can put you in contact with certified contractors from our network! Choosing a Window Model Source: Canva As far as the type of window you wish to purchase, note that there are no specific regulations in place for this matter. However, we highly recommend avoiding casement or awning windows, as they are often harder to manoeuvre in case of an accumulation of snow unless selecting a casement window with both window panes having the ability to open/close at the same time. Ideally, your choice should land on a sliding window due to its opening mechanism. Is Your Window in a Well? If your window is located on the inside of a window well, keep in mind that it should open without issue from the inside. Furthermore, if you have opted for an outward-opening, awning window, make sure that there is at least a 30-inch clearance once opened. By principle, it is important to mention that the current regulations in regard to basement windows vary from one municipality to the next, which is why you must seek further information to ensure you are fully aware of the standards issued by your borough. Furthermore, if your window well has a protective covering, is it absolutely necessary to be able to open it manually from the inside. And, should the window pane open up on the window well and pivot in its direction, it must in no way obstruct the available clearance. Tips to Live By To ensure everyone’s safety, it is highly recommended to clear the space in front of the window from time to time to make sure that this exit is never obstructed. Also, if you have young children, take the necessary measures and time to go over the basics of opening a window so that they can do it by themselves in case of an emergency. On another note, make sure that the position of your window gives way to 8 to 10 inches of clearance from the floor. This is a highly important measure to ensure that the window is not exposed to a too high level of humidity, which could cause premature wear and tear. If you are not able to conform to this specific requirement, you will then need to install a window well in front of it. Why do some basements in new homes not meet current standards? Source: Canva As we have mentioned in this article, a basement bedroom must have at least one window respecting the established required dimensions. So, why is it that some basement windows are clearly too small in newer homes? The answer is quite simple: The above-mentioned regulations do not apply if the basement is not considered a living space and does not have a bedroom. Need more tips before purchasing your new windows? Check out our article How to Choose Your Windows. Curious about the possible cost of such a project? Try our cost calculator!

6 min read

N/A 03 Mar 2022

When Should You Replace a French Drain?

Depending on the circumstances of its installation, a French drain (or foundation drain) has a decent service life before it needs to be changed. You may be wondering if and when your drainage system needs to be replaced—check out this article for all the answers you're looking for! When should your French drain be replaced? Source: Canva Replacing a French drain depends on several factors. First of all, regular system inspections are a must to detect any sign of damage or deterioration. If the French drain is leaking, frequently obstructed, or malfunctioning, it’s probably time to replace it. What’s the service life of a drainage system? The service life of a French drain can vary based on several factors: Quality of materials used; Regularly maintained or not; Environmental conditions (corrosive soil, exposure to stagnant water, etc.). Typically speaking, a well-designed and properly installed French drain can last on average between 20 to 30 years. To maximize the service life of your French drain, it’s best to hire qualified professionals to carry out the installation and maintenance work. If you begin to notice the following warning signs around the foundation of your home, or in your basement, it may be an indication that your French drain isn’t functioning properly. Process of elimination! First off, start by identifying the problem before undertaking a costly excavation and French drain replacement. Lookout for These Warning Signs Around Your House and Basement The presence of humidity hints at a problem As a general rule, you should be on the lookout for any prolonged signs of moisture in the basement. A malfunctioning French drain will have a limited ability to redirect water that naturally collects near the foundation, which can lead to increased humidity in the basement. If you notice a build-up of moisture on your drywall, or that your basement walls appear to be “sweating,” then you might have an excessive amount of water around the foundation of your home. However, that doesn’t necessarily point to a malfunctioning French drain. In any case, the humidity level in your basement is probably too high and you might want to take the opportunity to rectify this problem. Take the necessary measures to lower the humidity level in your basement, if only for the sake of your personal health! Check out the following article for more information: Causes and Solutions of Damp Interior Walls. Concrete Efflorescence: Telltale Sign of the State of Your French Drain Source: Canva If you observe a build-up of white powder on the surface of your concrete, that’s a sure sign of efflorescence, which is an occurrence whereby the minerals in the concrete rise as a result of prolonged exposure to moisture. If you notice a significant amount of efflorescence on the concrete walls of your basement over an extended period of time, this is most likely a foregone conclusion that something is faulty within the drainage system of your foundation. It’s important to stress the presence of efflorescence over a significant period of time, especially in the basement. This is a natural phenomenon that may occur during periods of increased humidity, such as spring or fall. For more information about efflorescence, check out our article: What Does Efflorescence Mean? Are you looking for experts for your French drain project? Fill in our form to be connected to top-rated contractors! How to Determine if Your French Drain Is Working Properly or Clogged Source: Canva While you may not see any signs of humidity, water infiltration, or efflorescence, your property may still be showing other signs indicating a problem with the foundation drainage. If every spring you notice a lot of excess surface water on your property, yet your home is equipped with a French drain, have it inspected by professionals. Before undertaking any work, they will proceed with a camera drain inspection. Often, it just needs to be cleaned! Camera Inspection Prior to undertaking any work, they’ll check the entirety of the drain with a camera. Oftentimes, it simply needs a good cleaning! The drain camera inspection can be performed via two entry points: Through the catch basin (or sump), if you have one; Through the drainage access chimney of the French drain. Without a catch basin or drainage access chimney, the hired professionals may suggest digging a small access pit to allow the camera to travel to the French drain to begin the inspection. If it’s clogged, it can be cleaned with a drain cleaner. Following the inspection, you should be able to determine if the French drain needs to be partially replaced due to a broken piece or completely replaced if it’s completely obstructed or damaged beyond repair. If it’s partially clogged, check with the on-site contractor to determine if it can be unclogged. If you suspect the presence of iron ochre or if the on-site contractor points it out, replacing the French drain will have little impact on this natural occurrence. However, there are types of drains that are preferred for this particular situation. For more information on how to proceed in such a situation, refer to our article on the subject matter. (French only) When to Change a Foundation Drain: Overview Source: Canva The best advice to remember when it comes to replacing a French drain is to proceed by elimination: Check for signs of excess humidity and efflorescence in the basement, and have the inside of your French drain camera inspected. Having the entire French drain replaced should come as a last resort. You can either opt to have it cleaned, or partially replaced. That being said, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, a French drain has a service life of 20 to 30 years. If you do the math based on when your house was built or know the exact year the French drain was previously replaced, it might need to be changed completely. A section of the drain can indeed be replaced, but if it has reached the end of its service life, all other sections will need to be replaced at some point or another. Replace it completely, or risk having to repair it constantly, which will become more expensive in the long run. Check out this article for additional information: French Drain Not Working: The Causes Your Home and the Phreatic Zone: Key Facts How to Clear Root-Clogged Pipes

4 min read

N/A 12 Jan 2022

Your Home and the Phreatic Zone: Key Facts

Owning a house can sometimes mean adapting oneself to nature’s perils. Whether it be freeze-thaw cycles or landscape vegetation, naturally-occurring phenomena can have an impact on your house’s overall state and maintenance. The phreatic zone is included in the challenges caused by nature that can occur on, or more likely beneath, your property. If you want to learn more about the ins and outs and overall outcomes resulting from the phreatic zone and its impact on your house, keep reading. The Phreatic Zone In a Nutshell Source: Canva The phreatic zone can be summed up in two parts: the unsaturated zone, which represents the ground within which water flows, and the saturated zone, which is an underground water reserve that can be found, depending on the landscape, at various levels underground. The above-mentioned water reserves are a result of rainwater that seeps into the ground and ends up in the earth. A house can be built atop the unsaturated (ground) part of the phreatic zone. Quebec’s phreatic zone amounts to 25% of our drinking water supply! To learn more about the phreatic zone, check out this article! (French only) Are you looking for general contractors for your renovation project? Fill in this form to be connected with top-rated contractors! Keep an Eye On Your House’s Phreatic Zone! Source: Canva As previously mentioned, the phreatic zone can be found at differing levels beneath your home’s foundation. And, water coming from the phreatic zone can, at times, leak into your basement if the former is too close or above your foundation’s level. Some warning signs can help you determine whether there’s a phreatic zone near your house. The most common sign is water seeping into the basement. Water from the phreatic zone naturally flows toward the water cavity via soil and should your home’s foundation be “in the way,” and your foundation isn’t properly drained, it’ll inevitably lead to water leaks. In some cases, water from the phreatic zone can rise above the ground and flood your basement. If you start noticing humidity problems or a buildup of water in your basement, it’s about time to reconsider your drainage options. A French drain will drain any water flowing toward your foundation and redirect it toward the nearest rainwater sewer. That said, merging the possibility of a too-high phreatic zone with spring rainfalls, a French drain won’t suffice. In such a case, you should really consider relieving the French drain by installing a sump pump. Water Buildup: To Pump or Not Source: Canva A too-high phreatic zone can very well put pressure on your current drainage installations, on top of other water sources on your property resulting from, for example, melting snow. The sump pit will take over once the French drain becomes insufficient in terms of draining water: the French drain will thus redirect the excess water toward the sump, which is basically a water pit. The pump fitted to the sump pit will draw the excess water toward the rainwater sewer via a pipe that was installed beforehand. Prior to installing any kind of pump to your sump pit, you have to be aware of its dimensions. If your sump pit is over 18 inches wide, it could easily fit a submersible pump with a float switch. Once the water in the sump pit raises the float to a predefined level, the pump will be activated and push the water toward a rainwater sewer. If it’s less than 18 inches wide, a pedestal sump pump is required. This model is designed for narrower sumps and is non-submergible. It also works with a float switch that powers the pump once the water hits a certain level. A sump pump can be directly connected to your household’s electrical system or battery-powered in cases where it’s a backup sump pump. In the event of heavy rains causing a power outage, a battery-powered sump pump allows you to continue draining the water for a couple of hours following the power outage. Check out our article 6 Ways to Deal with Flooding if you want to be well-versed when faced with any kind of situation! In Conclusion The phreatic zone consists of two sections: the unsaturated section, which embodies the ground within which water flows toward the saturated section, which in turn refers to the water cavity beneath ground level. If you experience water leaks in your basement, it's likely that you're property is near or on top of a phreatic zone. In such a case, make sure your drainage systems are working properly! Choosing to use a sump pump designed to work cohesively according to the latter is super important, and do make sure to choose a pump that’s suitable to your situation and to the land on which your house stands.

4 min read

Karine Dutemple 14 Sep 2020

5 Flooring Materials for the Basement

Thinking of renovating your old basement soon? If you already have a fairly precise idea of the main objective of this project, it is possible that some questions still remain. Perhaps you are hesitant about choosing your future flooring? Here are some of the options available to you! Choosing a flooring material for the basement 1) Carpet Source: Canva Known for the great comfort it provides under the feet, this type of flooring has clearly fallen out of style after its glory years when it was even installed in bathrooms! Although the latter option is certainly not desirable (for reasons we now understand), carpeting is an interesting choice as flooring in the basement. Apart from the heat it provides to those among us who can't stand the cold, it also has a very good capacity to absorb sound. This is a definite asset for all movie fans who want to enjoy their favourite hobby in their new basement! Moreover, carpet is also able to retain dust that accumulates at ground level, unlike smoother flooring that is unable to do so. While it is very annoying to spill liquids on a carpet, this material is still very effective in absorbing shocks. It should be noted, however, that the carpet should be placed on a perfectly smooth surface to ensure a high-quality installation. 2) Floating floor This flooring, which is highly appreciated for its good value for money, is often a top choice when it comes to renovating the basement, although some criticize its lack of moisture resistance. However, this problem can be overcome by installing a vapour barrier membrane during installation. In fact, it is more of an obligation than a recommendation if one considers that without its installation, the guarantee offered by the manufacturer is no longer valid. Also, it should be noted that the temperature transfer between the flooring and the concrete slab is small, making it a relatively warm and comfortable flooring. Are you looking for experts for your flooring project? Fill in this form to be connected with top-rated contractors! 3) La céramique Source: Canva As a moisture-resistant material, ceramics are a perfect choice for a basement floor renovation project. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that ceramics offer a cold surface, which can make the floor especially uncomfortable in winter. Therefore, if you want to install it in this room because of its high durability, adding a heated floor may be something to consider. It should be remembered that the installation of ceramic flooring requires certain skills and that in the absence of the expertise required to carry out quality work, it is important to hire a professional. 4) Vinyl This type of flooring is considered suitable for the basement because of its high resistance to water and humidity. In addition to this significant advantage, it should be mentioned that this flooring is easy to install and can even be placed directly on various materials such as wood, ceramics and even concrete. Also, vinyl does not offer a high-temperature transfer (which avoids walking on cold ground), as well as easily absorbing sound and requiring little maintenance. Unfortunately, the durability of this material is not optimal, which implies the probability that the vinyl will tear over time. To limit the chances of this happening, it is best to opt for higher quality vinyl. Regardless of the type of vinyl purchased, the price of the vinyl should not exceed $3/square foot. This is why it is a very economical choice, which can imitate the finish of other more expensive materials such as wood and ceramics. 5) Engineered wood While the installation of hardwood flooring in the basement is usually discouraged, engineered wood is not. Given its similar appearance, this material is often presented as an alternative to consider. Indeed, it has a high resistance to moisture, which makes it possible to install it in the basement. This resistance is mainly due to the presence of 5 to 7 layers of plywood between the first and last layers of the floor (these are made of real wood). These limit the propensity of the floor to contract or expand. Will you soon be undertaking a basement floor renovation project? Here are some articles you might be interested in: Price Guide: Flooring Materials The Cost to Remodel Your Basement 7 Flooring Materials that are Alternatives to Wood Need to estimate the cost of your flooring renovation project? Don't hesitate to use our cost estimator!

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