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!
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




Bio: By day, Jeff is the Jack of All Robots at Clearpath Robotics. By night, a mad scientist / hacker / artist / industrial designer wannabe!
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