The Cheat Sheet Guide to Developing Your Basement | Gilbert + Burke

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The Cheat Sheet Guide to
Developing Your Basement

What’s inside

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The Cheat Sheet Guide to Developing Your Basement

When it comes to home renovations and additions, there are few things that are as versatile as a basement.

After all, they offer tons of opportunities, from a man cave all the way to a decked-out media room to a storm shelter. As a part of many homes, we get inquiries constantly about basement renovations. From advice to project scopes, we’re always here to help — and our new Cheat Sheet Guide to Developing Your Basement is built specifically to help you outline your goals and make them come true. The way we see it, your basement might just add that home magic you’ve been looking for.

Chapter 1: Flooding Season in the Muskokas

It’s that time of year again, and being informed is imperative.

In the Muskokas — and all over the country — flooding has become a very real threat. When melting snow pairs with heavy rainfall and already high water levels, homeowners across Muskoka start to look directly into the face of floodwaters. Officials are already keeping an eye on the freshet — the spring thaw that brings melting snow into the equation — but it’s vital for you to stay informed and prepared to protect your home against flooding. Keep an eye on the flood mapping guide for your area, and follow our steps to guard your home and family from floodwaters.


Inside our cheat sheet you will find:

• A basement brainstorm helper
• Our basement renovation prep checklist
• A budget parameter worksheet.


Chapter 2: Your Basement Brainstorm Helper

A basement offers a ton of opportunities for growth — and for renovation.

Your job? To decide what you want from your basement, whether it’s an entertainment area or something seemingly more practical. Here are some ideas from our past clients and projects:

  • A movie room/entertainment center
  • A versatile lounge area for the whole family
  • A new sleeping/living area
  • A home gym
  • A guest room
  • A home bar + game room
  • A storage space
  • An additional apartment (complete with a kitchenette!)
  • A wine cellar

To really define what your basement could become — and what you’d actually like for it to become — take some time to answer these questions for yourself.

  1. When I think of a basement renovation, what’s my biggest dream?
  2. What are the measurements of my basement area?
  3. What general budget will I be working with?
  4. If there are 3 uses my basement could provide, what would they be?
  5. What do I imagine my basement looking like, post-renovation?


Chapter 3: Our Basement Renovation Prep List

The Checklist

Before you start on any basement renovation, whether you’re working with a team or going for a DIY project, it’s important to do your research and make sure your I’d are dotted and t’s are crossed.

A basement renovation is a lot of work, which is why we’ve compiled a go-to checklist for you to work your way through. Print this out, check it off, and don’t skip any steps! We promise you, they matter.

1. Measure Humidity + Moisture Levels In Your Basement Area:

The biggest problem in turning a basement into a long-lasting, usable space involves its moisture levels. Get accurate measurements of humidity and moisture, consider adding in a dehumidifier and talk to an expert about managing humidity levels if they’re too high for comfort.

2. Obtain Any Required Permits For Your Basement Renovation:

ou’ll likely need a permit to do any considerable change in a basement area, and that permit requirement may change depending on the province and area you’re located in. While the right construction team will manage this for you, ensure you’re staying up-to-date on local restrictions and requirements if you’re embarking on a DIY project.

3. Choose The Right Flooring For Your Basement:

As basements tend to have higher humidity and moisture levels, you’ll want to choose floor material that stands the test of time, doesn’t get slippery and doesn’t attract mould. Stay away from carpet, and consider something similar to a laminate tile or laminate hardwood that won’t warp.

4. Pick A Great Insulation Material, And Follow-Through:

Insulation is an essential part of a basement remodel or renovation, and you’ll want to choose the right insulation for the entire basement. Don’t skip any area of the wall with drywall, and consider adding additional insulation (like with spray foam or fibreglass).

5. Make Sure The Entire Space Is Sealed:

Since moisture can be an issue in a basement, it’s important to inspect the exterior concrete walls for cracks and examine your windows for air leaks. Sealing these off and replacing windows may seem like a big investment but will add years of longevity to your basement addition, remodel or renovation.

6. Enlist Trustworthy Electric + Plumbing Teams:

Likely, you’ll want to add electricity or running water to your basement area — something that we’d always recommend you turn to a professional for. We’re happy to give you recommendations in our area, and we can’t overstress the importance and value of asking friends for recommendations and reviews, too.


Chapter 4: A Budget Parameter Guide

Developing a budget for your basement renovation or remodel is a pretty essential step since basement renovations — depending on the scope — can be pricey and extensive.

While you’ll want to refer to local experts and also perform market research, this is generally what you can expect:

  • Basement finishing (no bathroom): starting at around $25,000+
  • Adding a bathroom to your basement finishing (total cost): $45,000+
  • Basement wall drywall: $2-3 per square foot, depending on contractor costs
  • Electricity installation in the basement: Depending on the electrician and square footage, you can expect anywhere from $5,000to $10,000
  • Painting a basement: Depending on square footage, your budget should start at $5,000 for basement painting
  • Cabinet installation: Depending on the cabinets you choose, you’ll also need to budget for installation and labour costs, which will usually consist of up to two hours per cabinet, depending on the size, the price can start at $1,000 and go up from there.

While prices may always differ, these parameters are a great way to begin defining your budget and planning out your project. Plus, remember: not everything needs to be done at once, and there’s nothing wrong with moving in pieces for a basement renovation.

Small steps are still steps!

Closing Statement

Why Gilbert + Burke?

An industry leader with the signature of excellence.


Building luxury custom homes and
cottages with passive house

When it comes to building a passive house or an energy-efficient home that you love, there are a million moving parts. From the
budget and the site choice to the finishes and the move-in, many pieces come together to create a living and getaway space that serves your family for years to come. At Gilbert + Burke, we’ve been building luxury custom homes and cottages with passive house principles for years.

As a design-build firm recognized widely for our commitment to excellence, our incredible custom and bespoke designs and our awareness for the land and earth around us, we’re no stranger to impeccable builds. With an award-winning team of craftsmen, designers and world-class architects, Gilbert + Burke is the top choice for discerning clientele looking to build elite lifestyle spaces that continue to grow as they do.

From design to remodels to builds, our high-quality craftsmanship is widely sought after across cottage country. Our
open communication, excellent project management and impeccable taste speak to our clients, who have spanned across
the Muskokas and the Kawarthas for many years. Gilbert + Burke is registered with Tarion, holds certification in Energy Star
home building, and is a member of the Canadian Home Building Association, Renomark, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and the Kawartha Lakes and Orillia Chambers of Commerce.

Learn more about our team, see our portfolio and contact us to start your new build at

Ken Jaquith Director Of Client Experience
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