A warning to the weak willed! A basement renovation can be trying to your patience, the patience of your co-dwellers, and that of your credit card! That said, it's also a whole lot of fun! After all, who wouldn't want to smash stuff with a giant hammer, fill a room with concrete dust, or paste huge sheets of styrofoam to the walls? Yeah, I couldn't think of anyone either.

This is a massive instructable, containing over 430 photos for your viewing pleasure. The different stages of the renovation will be separated by title pages, where you'll find a list of the tools you'll probably need, and materials you'll likely use. Feel free to use any or all of the different sections in your own renovation as required.

Now for the disclaimer: I am not a general contractor, nor do I have any construction training per se. However, I'm a very handy guy, I read a lot of books and how-to websites, and got plenty of help from my elders. The information presented in this instructable is as accurate as I could manage, and chances are nothing will go terribly wrong. If you're ever unsure of what you're doing, then stop, step back, and take a few minutes to think about it. Read instructions over again or find a second opinion.

Now, grab your sledge hammer and demolition saw, it's time to get started!


Planning and Permits
Foundation Inspection
Repairs and Waterproofing
Built-in shelving
Baseboards and Trim
Final Steps and Conclusion

Step 1: Planning

OK, put the sledge and saw back down, you won't need them for a while. Instead, grab a tape measure, some graph paper and a pencil. It's time to make some plans.

First, draw a scale drawing of the space you're planning to renovate. Include the outside walls, interior supporting walls, existing doors and windows, existing ductwork, plumbing fixtures, and any other immovable objects in the room. You likely won't be touching these (and I won't tell you how!) so you'll have to plan around them.

Next you have to consider what the new space will be used for. Are you going to put in a bathroom? An extra bedroom? Perhaps a workshop or office... Take your time to really think about what you want to build down there. After all, it will be more or less permanent, so you want it to be a useful space for a long time. You should also resist the urge to carve up a basement space into a lot of small rooms - it will end up feeling like a dungeon.

Also remember that each type of room will have a few requirements stipulated by your local building code that you must follow. For instance, a bedroom will probably need a large window for egress (emergency exit) if there is no secondary exit in the basement. Take these requirements into consideration as you make your plans so that you don't get stuck later on (or worse yet, receive a failing grade from the building inspector!)

In this instructable I will be using my own renovation as an example. I started with an 11x22 foot space that was divided into two rooms, a workshop and an empty room. Well, empty aside from a rather quaint toilet stall!
Hi..what laser level were you using? I've been looking for one that wont cost a fortune.
Extremely helpful! Hat off to you!
This looks so great! I have really been looking into <a href="http://www.carpetsuperstores.ca/laminate-m.php" rel="nofollow">laminate flooring in Edmonton</a> and what they suggest! Can you tell me where I might be able to find more tips on how to choose which flooring you would really want? Thanks again!
Thanks for sharing! I've been looking to do some <a href="http://www.fixfoundation.com/foundation-repair-salt-lake-city.html" rel="nofollow">foundation repair in Orem</a> but have no idea what I'm doing. This gave me some insight on some stuff I can do on my own though. Thanks again!
Great job. This really brings back a lot of memories of <a href="http://www.fixfoundation.com/foundation-repair-salt-lake-city.html" rel="nofollow">foundation repair orem</a> for me. This was a pretty common fix.
Thanks so much for sharing all this great help! I have been looking into <a href="http://www.abalonedm.com/en/" rel="nofollow">foundation repair</a> and where I might be able to find more information like this? Can you tell me where to find more options to help me repair my foundation?
Thank you for sharing this step on <a href="http://www.abalonedm.com/en/" rel="nofollow">foundation repair</a>. This is exactly what I needed to know. I'm trying to repair our foundation right now too. Thanks for your help!
Thanks for sharing. I would love to learn more about <a href="http://www.professionalsiding.com/windows.php" rel="nofollow">window installation in Arlington Heights, IL</a>. I can't wait to fix up the old house.
Thanks for the step by step guide on <a href="http://www.greatcanadian.ca/services/windows-and-doors" rel="nofollow">windows doors installation calgary</a>.
Thanks for sharing this. It was helpful but I'm going to call a professional. Does anyone know someone that does <a href="http://www.professionalsiding.com/windows.php" rel="nofollow">window installation in Arlington Heights, IL</a>?
Thanks for sharing. I'd love to learn more about<a href="http://www.abalonedm.com/en/" rel="nofollow">foundation repair</a>. Your tips were so helpful!
Thanks for posting this on <a href="http://www.abalonedm.com/en/" rel="nofollow">foundation repair</a>. I need to repair my foundation and I would rather not pay more money by hiring a professional.
I really appreciate this! I've been looking for someone who can do <a href="http://www.greatcanadian.ca/services/windows-and-doors" rel="nofollow">windows and doors installation in Calgary</a> but had no idea what to look for when hiring someone to do it. This gave me some great insight! Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing this information on how to install windows. Do you know of any <a href="http://www.greatcanadian.ca/services/windows-and-doors" rel="nofollow">windows doors installation businesses in calgary</a>? I really could use their help because I don't think this is something I could do. Thank you for your help!
Thank you so much for all the advice. We've been remodeling and the next thing on the list is <a href="http://www.greatcanadian.ca/services/windows-and-doors" rel="nofollow">windows an doors installation in Calgary</a>. We've already spent so much money I would like to try doing some things ourselves!
Thanks for sharing. I love this picture. I think it would be so much fun to do some <a href="http://www.greatcanadian.ca/services/windows-and-doors" rel="nofollow">windows doors installation from Calgary</a> in a space like this. I would love to see great doors in a great space.
I'm really glad I found this. We've needed some good <a href="http://www.durapierfoundationrepair.com" rel="nofollow">foundation repair in Houston</a> for a while now, I'm just not much of a a handy man. I'm trying to learn, thanks for the help.
Thanks for all the advice. We aren't for sure going to put new flooring in our basement but should we get <a href="http://www.durapierfoundationrepair.com" rel="nofollow">foundation repair in Houston</a> if we're just going to lay carpet over it anyway? I don't want to one day have to pull up the carpet and fix everything.
Thanks for the post, and I know that this might sound like a stupid question but how do you know when a <a href="http://www.abalonedm.com/en" rel="nofollow">foundation repair</a> is minor and when a foundation repair is major?
Thanks for sharing, Jeff. I had to do some <a href="http://www.riverahouselevelingwacotx.com" rel="nofollow">foundation repair</a> on my home in Waco,TX, last year. I used a waterproof seal, but I've noticed some condensation beading up at times. Is that normal, or is it possible that I didn't seal it correctly?
Thank you so much for sharing this! I need to have some <a href="http://www.riverahouselevelingwacotx.com" rel="nofollow">foundation repair in Waco TX</a> done on the house I own, and I think I will try to follow your instructable and do it on my own. Thanks again for sharing this! Wish me luck!
Thank you for sharing these instructions! I've been thinking about installing new <a href="http://www.canadiancomfort.com/" rel="nofollow">windows and doors in Ottawa</a> for my home, but I wasn't sure if it was something that I could easily do myself. I'm sure with practice I'd get a lot better at it.
Great instructable! I have been wondering how I was going to my basement <a href="http://www.basementwaterproofingwinnipeg.com/en/" rel="nofollow">waterproofing in Winnipeg</a>, and you answered a lot of my questions. Thanks again fro sharing!
Thank you for sharing! This looks like quite the project. I'll be doing a similar <a href="http://avonhomeimprovement.berrysites.net/our-benefits" rel="nofollow">basement remodel in Cincinnati, OH</a> on my home pretty soon, so I've been looking at what other people are doing for ideas.
This is a great article, Jeff! Thank you for posting. I'll be installing new <a href="http://www.goldenwindows.com/about.php" rel="nofollow">windows</a> on my home in London, ON, soon. I'll be sure to refer back to this guide.
This is such a great post with great advice for <a href="http://www.abalonedm.com/en" rel="nofollow">foundation repair</a>! I have been looking into it and what I need to do to get mine fixed! I think that this will be a great starter point for me. Can you tell me where I can find more information like this?
We could sure use an epic basement renovation at our house! First we need to dry out the basement, and then hire experts on <a href="http://www.basementwaterproofingwinnipeg.com/en/" rel="nofollow">waterproofing in Winnipeg</a> to make it all leak proof. I really hope our basement looks as great as your by the time we are finished.
My husband decided he wants to try to install the windows in our house instead of hiring a <a href="http://joesglassinc.com" rel="nofollow">residential window installations</a> company. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't so concerned!!! This doesn't look too difficult so hopefully we won't have any problems. Wish us luck, we'll need it!
Looks great! Thanks so much for sharing! Very good instructable! I was so easy to read and follow. This is great <a href="http://www.abalonedm.com/en" rel="nofollow">foundation repair</a> advice. Is this for just small fixes? Unfortunately I have major problems and I'm not sure this would really hold up as long as I needed it to. My foundation is in need of some major repairs. Not just small fixes. But I am going to try this in the little spots of my foundation. Thanks!
Looks nice! I was wondering how your floor is holding up after a few years. I've been doing some research on waterproofing my basement and I have not seen anyone else use that type of vapor barrier...just other (and much more expensive) options that I am hoping to avoid. Have you had any problems with moisture seeping through or causing problems underneath the flooring?
No moisture or mold issues as far as I can tell. But, we have a relatively dry basement. Before starting on a basement flooring project I'd suggest doing a moisture test - tape a 1 square meter piece of plastic to the floor and let it sit for a week or two. If no water condenses under the plastic in that time, then you're good to go!
Good to know, thanks! I just found out during the inspection that the house I'm buying has already been waterproofed, so at least that part is already taken care of :) Will still do a moisture test regardless.
Most likely, those are spaced like that (the staggered pieces between the studs) as a fire block. This is code in some areas. It prevents, or at the very least slows the spread of fire up the interior of the wall. Homes built without these in an exterior wall may find their attic on fire before they even know there is a fire in the wall.
Think I'd be wearing steel toe cap boots during the demolition. Nails through the instep are not nice....<br />
Agreed.&nbsp; And for most of the renovation, I did!&nbsp; Many of the pictures taken here were, *ahem*, posed a little...&nbsp; ;)<br />
Beautiful work, and a stunningly complete 'ible<br /> Well done. <br /> Steve<br />
Thanks.<br /> <br /> I have plans to do a bathroom this summer.&nbsp; Hopefully I'll find the time to do it!<br />
&nbsp;Did you have to use anything to hold the foamboards in place while the PL300 was curing or are they light enough not to require that? (The user manual that comes with it says you need to use some type of a fastener to keep things under pressure until cured. ) Also, how long did it take in your case to dry?<br /> <br />
Nothing in particular.&nbsp; I stuck the boards down, pulled them off for a minute or two, then stuck them back on as per instructions.&nbsp; After that, they stuck all by themselves quite nicely.&nbsp; The foam boards aren't heavy at all, and PL300 is very, very sticky.<br /> <br /> I'm not sure how long they took to dry.&nbsp; Unused glue squeezed from the tube and left in the open air took about a day to get rock hard.<br />
&nbsp;What would happen if/when adhesive eventually fails? Would &nbsp;you rely on the studs holding the foam and things remaining airtight?
Presumably the adhesive is intended to be permanent.&nbsp; But, in the unlikely event that it does fail, the second layer of insulation pasted on top, plus the tape, plus the studs on top should hold it in place.<br />
I love Roxul too, I'm planning to use it for my basement reno, as well.<br /> but dude, Roxul isn't fiberglass -- it's mineral fiber, so it doens't make you as itchy as fiberglass though.&nbsp; You still need the breathing / eye protection like you describe. :D<br />
Yeah, someone informed me of my mistake on a different step.&nbsp; Whoops!&nbsp; But, it doesn't really matter which you use; either fiberglass or mineral fiber (aka rock wool) will work here.<br />
Have you noticed a significant change in your energy bill from the fiberglass insulation? I'm debating on whether or not it's necessary with the foam panels...I am on a very limited budget...<br />
Hard to say how much more of a difference the fiberglass makes, since it was installed at the same time as the foam.&nbsp; The top of the wall feels *slightly* warmer than the bottom, but that may be because heat rises.<br /> <br /> Think about it this way:&nbsp; a basement renovation is something you're likely to do once.&nbsp; It'll cost a few hundred more to pack in more insulation, but in the long run it's worth doing really well.&nbsp; The foam panels will likely give you your minimum R-value to meet code, but I'm a fan of exceeding code where possible.<br />
amazing instructable!!
Thanks very much for putting this together. It has given me the confidence to attempt this huge task myself.
No problem! Breaking it into smaller parts, taking time to think things through, and asking lots of questions (and asking for help!) will help you get through it. Oh, and one other thing: Don't lose your momentum. Always do something every day, and don't do anything else until it's done. Make sure that everyone else in the household understands this as well.
That is excellent advise! I will definitely follow it. Thanks again! Eric

About This Instructable


195 favorites


Bio: By day, Jeff is the Jack of All Robots at Clearpath Robotics. By night, a mad scientist / hacker / artist / industrial designer wannabe!
More by jeff-o: Facet V1 Velomobile Simple Rock-Solid Cantilever Desk Polychromatic Harley Deluxe
Add instructable to: