Basement Renovation Hamilton

Renovation of your basement is considered to be the right and most profitable investment in your house. Basement Renovation increases your home’s value and provides additional usable space to your family.

We often renovate and remodel our basements for 2 reasons:

  1. To provide independent living space for a family member or rent it out to make a little extra money to help pay off your house mortgage. (A Second Dwelling Unit)
  2. To add extra usable spaces for recreational activities such as a home theater, gym, bar, or a play station.

To renovate your basement and having the first purpose in mind, you are adding a second dwelling unit to your house. Therefore, you need to obtain a construction permit, change of occupancy, and comply with certain provisions of Ontario Building Code and city by-laws in terms of fire safety and means of egress, soundproofing, interior air quality, moisture protection, etc. However, if you are not planning to make a separate unit and just renovate your basement for extra space and part of your own dwelling unit, then lesser restrictions are implied on your renovation process.

This document is BANAYEE HOMES’ guidelines for homeowners to walk you through the renovation process with a special focus on BASEMENT RENOVATION AS SECOND DWELLING UNIT. Through these guidelines, we note the critical stages of renovation, and provide guidance on compliance of your renovation with standards and building code.

Disclaimer: This document is provided for convenience only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for construction, engineering, architectural or legal advice. BANAYEE HOMES does not assume responsibility for errors or oversights resulting from the use of this document.

A second dwelling unit is a self-contained dwelling unit with a private kitchen, bathroom facilities, and sleeping areas. It can be located either in a basement or any other place in your house.

Planning the project layout is the key to a successful and ideal basement renovation project. Planning gives, you the leisure to design the space based on your vision for space. Following are the critical points you need to keep in mind while planning the layout.

  • Natural light is the key source of energy and light for your basement. Plan the space as such that the main living room/space gets the best natural light, to draw people in

  • Open concept design to have both living, dining, and kitchen spaces together is more popular and likable among homeowners.

  • Bedrooms need a window for egress, so they will need to be located at the perimeter so that you can plan, cut open a window for your bedroom.

  • Plan the TV-viewing area in a darker spot, to reduce glare and create a home-theater feel.

  • Washrooms do not need natural light. You can plan it where no other space could be planned. However, consider locating them as close as possible to the drain pipes to avoid spending time and money trenching the concrete slab.

  • Make sure that your plan caters to your purpose in mind. For example, plan rough-ins for plumbing and a kitchen if you would like to make your basement a rental unit down the line.
  • Tape a 4-square foot of plastic sheeting to the floor and walls of your basement to test the moisture level. You would need to wait 2 to 4 weeks. If condensation forms underneath the plastic sheet, your foundation’s not sealed. If droplets form on top of the sheet, your basement needs dehumidifying.

  • It is important to fix the insect damage areas and get rid of insects before you conceal them behind your drywall and finishing. Use an awl to probe for rot and insect damage in floor joists, rim and header joists, the sill plate, and wood-framed windows.

  • Check floor joists for sagging by climbing a ladder until you are nearly eye level with the underside of the joists. Look across them (perpendicular to their direction) to see if any are out of line.

  • Have a professional check fuel-burning equipment and your house’s ventilation system to ensure that you will not have carbon monoxide buildup below grade.

  • Test your basement for Radon concentration. Radon gas can be found in almost all homes in Canada. Concentrations differ greatly across the country, but are usually higher in areas where there is a higher amount of uranium in underlying rock and soil. November is Radon Action Month – there is no better time to start testing your home and ensuring that the air you breathe is safe for you and your family.

There are two options for testing a house for radon:
  1. Purchase a do-it-yourself radon test kit and
  2. Hire a radon measurement professional
If you choose to purchase a do-it-yourself radon test kit, make sure you follow the instructions provided on how to set up the test.

Basement renovations cost Hamilton

Municipal Zoning Study Before deciding to renovate your basement as a second dwelling unit, it is important to first speak with your local municipal planning and building department. They can provide you with more information on your renovation project.

There are several important factors you need to consider before adding a second dwelling unit, including:

  • Applicable municipal zoning requirements
  • Necessary building permits
  • Designing your unit to comply with the Building Code
  • Required building inspections during construction

NOTE: Please contact BANAYEE HOME’’s planning and designing department to provide you FREE walk through of the municipal zoning and permit application process.

Fire Safety: Fire Safety is the key element of you design and planning. To ensure fire safety in your renovation please factor the followings in your plan:

Fire Separation: A fire separation can be a wall, floor, ceiling or a door built to separate two dwelling units within your house that act as a physical barrier between two spaces that slows the spread of fire from one unit to the other. In order to be effective the fire separation must be continuous and all the openings for service be protected.

A 30 minutes fire separation (required by OBC) can be built using 2”x4” wood studs, ½” thick drywall on both sides and any kind of Rockwool insulation between the studs.

Smoke Alarm / Smoke Detectors: In a single-unit detached dwelling, a minimum of one smoke alarm is required in the following area.

  • One on every floor level of a house, including basements
  • One smoke alarm is required in each bedroom.
  • One in each hallway outside of the bedrooms
  • One in the common area of the house shared by occupants of both units.

All smoke alarms are required to be interconnected, such that the activation of one alarm will cause all alarms within the dwelling unit to sound. In addition, all smoke alarms are required to have a visual signaling component.

NOTE: Make sure your smoke alarm has the label indicating its compliance with CAN/ULCS531 performance standard.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm: If you are using a furnace or a fireplace that uses natural gas, propane or other similar fuels or if your house has an attached garage, you need to also install a carbon monoxide alarm. A either electrically powered or on battery operated carbon monoxide alarm can be located in the following areas.

  • Close to the sleep areas or bedrooms
  • In the furnace room.

NOTE: The Carbon Monoxide Alarm must conform to CAN/CSA-6.19 “Residential Carbon Monoxide Alarming Devices”

Safe Exiting: The Ontario Building Code (OBC) sets out minimum sizes for doorways and hallways to facilitate a safe path of travel towards an exit in the event of an emergency. Consider the following the door sizes set out by OBC in your plan:

Ceiling Height: The OBC regulates a minimum ceiling height in all finished spaces. Consider the following minimum heights in you design

  • Basement spaces are permitted to be as low as 1950mm (6’ 5”) under beams and ducts, however at least 75% of the required floor area must be at least 2100mm (6’ 11”) high.
  • Bedrooms located in basements are required to be at least 2100mm (6’ 11”) over the entire area or 2300mm (7’ 7”) over at least 50% of the space, but no less than 1950mm (6’ 5”) under beams and ducts.

NOTE: If you do not have the heights set out by OBC, you may be able to dig out and lower the concrete floor, but it’s a complex, pricey job. Do not hesitate to call BANAYEE HOME’s construction experts to suggest possible solutions. Ask your contractor if moving ducts and pipes might solve the problem.

Room Sizes and Floor Area:
The Ontario Building Code sets out the following minimum room sizes in a dwelling unit. Please consider the following sizes while planning your space:

Windows: According to OBC, the sizes of the windows required in the different spaces of your unit, is determined by the size of the floor area in that space. Following chart is the minimum required window area:

Egress Window: Every basement level that contains a bedroom shall be provided with a properly sized egress window to ensure all occupants have a point of exit, in case of a fire or other emergency situations. An egress window must be easily opened from the inside without use of any special tools, keys and force

Followings are the requirements of OBC for an egress window in the basement:

  • Be openable from the inside without use of any special tools or knowledge.
  • The minimum openable portion of the window must have a minimum area of 0.35 m² (3.8ft²)
  • Basement Egress window dimensions
    • Minimum Height of openable portion (unobstructed opening) Not less that 1060mm (38”)
    • Minimum Width of openable portion (unobstructed opening) Not less that 560mm (of the openable portion of the windows must be at least 380 mm (15”)
  • Must be able to stay open without any extra support
  • There is no limit of the window sill height from the finished floor. However, the sill height of the window cannot be higher than 1,000 mm (39.37”).
  • If you have a sliding window, then the opened portion of the window must be 0.35 m² as well

Ventilation/Heating: In most homes (especially new homes), OBC allows the ventilation and heating system to be a single unit for both units and a common system of air ducts for fire safety. An adequate amount of supply and return air ducts will need to be provided for the basement space.

The code requires to install duct-type smoke detectors that meet UL268A performance standard in the main supply or return air ducts. This smoke detector activates in the event of smoke to prevent spread of smoke from one unit to the other. When activated, the device turns off the fuel supply and electrical power to the furnace that shuts down the furnace.

To keep and maintain a pleasant temperature in the basement, consider planning a separate thermostat, and put supply registers near the floor, not the ceiling. If you need supplemental heat, try electric baseboards or radiant mats.
Ventilation is also required in all your washrooms and kitchen of your second unit.

If you are unsure of the requirements, speak with a qualified mechanical contractor who is HRAI registered (Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada) to ensure the system is properly designed and installed. A poor design will cause discomfort and lead to poor energy efficiency as well as higher operating costs.

Plumbing: OBC requires the following plumbing at minimum in a dwelling unit:

  • Hot and cold water supply
  • A sink, bathtub or shower, toilet, or a drain less composting toilet in the bathroom
  • Kitchen sink
  • Access to laundry facilities, which may be provided in a shared laundry room or a separate laundry area in the second unit

Waterproofing / Moisture Control: Look for signs of moisture and water leak in the basement through the foundation walls and floor slab or around the windows. Most of the leaks can be fixed without the help of a professional. Consider the following simple fixes to solve moisture problems in your design:

  • Install diverters to send gutter water at least 10 feet from the foundation.
  • Slope soil away from the foundation
  • Seal small cracks or gaps around pipes with concrete-patching compounds
  • Fill larger cracks inside and out with hydraulic cement, which expands as it cures.

You may need to consult BANAYEE HOMES professionals to inspect any cracks that are wider than a pencil.

Electrical Facilities and Lighting: OBC requires the following electrical facilities in your unit:

  • A light and switch in every room and space.
  • A switch at both the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • You will need to get a separate electrical permit to do the electrical work.
  • Electrical inspection by ESA.

Leave Space Around Mechanicals: When boxing your mechanical equipment, make sure to leave at least 1to 2 feet clearance around the equipment to allow a real human being to fit around mechanicals for upkeep.” The door for the mechanical room has to be at least 40” vented or use a vented double door to allow a safe and barrier free path while taking out the equipment.

Hot and Cold Water Pipes Must Be Insulated: Use either foam insulation sleeves or batt insulation to cover and insulate the hot and cold water pipes. Insulate the hot-water pipes to prevent heat loss, while insulating cold-water ones prevents condensation from dripping on the inside of the drywall or ceiling.


Sound is broken down between airborne and impact noise.

Airborne noise is transmitted through the air and atmosphere and experienced through the likes of people talking, TV noise, dogs barking etc. When sound waves travel through the air and reach a building element they hit it and cause it to vibrate. These vibrations travel through the structure or building and are radiated out the other side albeit at a reduced volume.

Impact noise is the physical impact on buildings or solid materials. Examples being footfall, doors banging, walking and furniture moving. Impact sound occurs because the impact causes both sides of the building element to vibrate, generating sound waves. This can often be the hardest to isolate as impact vibrations are stronger and travel further through dense materials.

To soundproof your basement ceiling, and/or walls design the floor and wall assembly as follows:

  • Add fiberglass batts or mineral Rockwool’s without a vapor barrier in the joists/studs cavity.
  • Install resilient clips/channels to every floor joist or wall studs. This isolates the drywall from the joists, eliminating vibration and thus minimizing sound travel.
  • Install one or for best results two layers of ⅝” drywall on the resilient channels.
  • Place mechanical equipment on top of sound-dampening anti-vibration mats or pads.
  • Minimize connections between ducts in the basement and upper floors to reduce noise transmission.
Bonus Tips from Our Expert Teams to keep up the Cozy Factors

Basement renovation ideas Hamilton

Functional spaces need not be fancy, but they should not be an afterthought.

For a small entry area, skip the coat closet. Wall hooks and a bench get the job done without eating up much floor space.

Opt for easy-care, durable flooring. Large-format tile has fewer grout lines, and a dark color disguises dirt.

Use stackable for a compact laundry. Double-decker machines have a small footprint, leaving room for a sink area with open shelving, where you can treat stains and store cleaning supplies.

Design the Space Warm and Welcoming

1. Dress up the walls. Tall wainscot gives the space a homey vibe while saving the drywall from dings and dents.
2. Be smart about storage. Built-ins near a walk-out entry have room for coats and boots. Positioned to hug the stairway, they save space.
3. Layer on lighting. Traditional wall sconces add charm in a basement, where lights usually prevail. Here, a warm bronze finish and white shade complement the surrounding woodwork.
4. Build a better stair. The first-floor door must be removed to let sunlight spill downstairs. A handsome handrail and newel post were finished to match the built-ins.
5. Channel natural light. Take every opportunity to brighten up closed-off rooms. A redid-glass light on the bathroom door fosters an airy feeling inside but still permits privacy.

Make a narrow room feel snug, not suffocating.
1. Build a spot for the bed.
Instead of aligning the full-size bed with the room’s long axis.
2. Keep storage compact. The bookshelf doubles as a headboard and nightstand; deep drawers hold clean linens and give guests room to unpack.
3. Continue details from adjacent spaces. The wainscot ties the sleeping nook in with the rest of the rooms.
4. Layer rugs for warmth. An area rug laid on top of rugged wall-to-wall carpet adds welcome texture and softness underfoot.
5. Add wall fixtures. A swing-arm reading lamp saves space and directs light right where it’s needed.

A few simple guidelines will make it functional and eye-catching.
● Go for light-reflecting finishes: We love this can’t-fail combo of traditional white fixtures, a painted medicine cabinet, and shiny chrome hardware with porcelain accents.
● Don’t risk an overflow: Have a plumber install a backflow-prevention valve on your main drain line to prevent backups into below-grade sinks or tubs.
● Get rid of humid air: Extra moisture is the last thing a basement needs. Add a humidistat to your bath’s exhaust fan that will automatically turn it on when the air’s too damp.
● Minimize pipe runs: Design the sink, tub, and toilet share the same wall, which simplifies plumbing installation and keeps costs down.