Renovator, beware: The challenges of finished basements

(NC)-Canadians love to renovate and one of the most popular projects is to finish the basement - otherwise known as the wreck room, the kid's playroom or the man-cave.

Some do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) may consider this type of renovation to be fairly straightforward and easy, but the truth is that it requires careful planning and coordination with your insurance company.

"A basement renovation could involve adding new features into your home - like electrical, plumbing and insulation - so obtaining a proper building permit is very important," says Tara Lessard-Webb, an underwriter with Desjardins Insurance. "Getting the right advice from the beginningmight mean some additional costs upfront, but it could avoid bigger expenses in the future."

Here are some other points to remember:

• Whether doing the basement renovation yourself or hiring a contractor, it's a good idea to keep your insurance company informed to ensure that your policy is updated accordingly and that you remain fully covered throughout the project and after it's complete.

• If you're making structural changes or installing new wiring or plumbing, it's a good idea to find a reliable and bonded contractor to ensure everything is safe and done to code. Make sure the contractor's liability insurance is adequate and current.

• If you have water leakage problems in your basement, be sure to fix the problems before you install the drywall, flooring, expensive furniture and electronics. If not, the mould or other moisture-related problems could come back. This may mean that you could end up spending more money to start all over.

Jennifer Kolah, also with Desjardins Insurance's underwriting group, says that potential water damage is probably the biggest and costliest concern with finished basements. All it takes is a heavy rain in short period of time, a snap thaw after a snowy winter, or a prolonged wet period to cause basement water damage. She advises practical protective measures such as installing a backwater value on the sewage pipe from the house and a sump pump drainage system.

"The backwater valve will stop water from flowing back into the house in the event that the sewer system gets overloaded," she says. "The sump pump will help keep the area under the house dry by pumping water away, protecting the basement from possible seepage."

Kolah also recommends that homeowners repair any cracks in their foundations and ensure they have good drainage around the house by building up and sloping the ground away from the exterior walls, extending downspouts and keeping eavestroughs clear. Speak to your insurance provider for more tips about finished basements. Or visit Desjardins Insurance at for immediate answers.

Courtesy of Newscanada


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