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Renovating Your Basement into an Apartment

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By : M Shane    99 or more times read
If you have a full-height basement, renovating it into an independent apartment can provide you with an income that helps with the mortgage and provides some financial security against future repairs and maintenance. However, your basement must be suitable for renovation into living quarters.

You will probably need a building permit to transform your basement into an independent apartment. A building permit is not just a slip of paper that allows you to change your home; it also ensures that your renovations will be in accordance with health standards and safety guidelines. For instance, most communities require that your basement be at least 6.8 feet high, so as to accommodate lighting and fan fixtures without endangering the head of anyone as tall as 6 feet.

Moisture problems are one of the banes of the basement renovator. You will have to ascertain whether your basement has any cracks or drainage problems that could interfere with comfortable living. Floors, drains, eaves troughs, downspouts and window wells should be keenly inspected, preferably after a typical rain or storm, to see if there are any issues that need to be corrected.

Many basements are not properly insulated for habitation and this is required for a living situation. Check the building codes for your municipality to see what is required and check your basement to see if all is in accordance with local law. There may be regulations for sound barriers and smoke/fire barriers to consider.

In a basement, adequate air circulation is especially important. The installation of fans can mitigate much of the stale air and presence of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Also consider installing some windows that open, if such is not present. A dehumidifier can also help if condensation of moisture is an issue.

Every floor of a residence must have fire and smoke detectors and the basement is no exception. Also, a carbon monoxide detector installed near any possible sources of this deadly gas is a good idea. Local building codes may also require certain types of smoke-tight, fire-resistant construction.

The electrical codes of most municipalities should be consulted before you undertake work. Kitchens have specialized electrical supply needs that must be addressed – higher voltages for ovens, etc. There may be a requirement for outlets to be placed within a certain distance of each other. Make sure you are clear on the requirements for your particular property so you don’t have trouble with inspections.

These are only a few considerations of renovating your basement into living quarters. You should inquire into your community’s laws on renovation and permits in order to get up-to-date information.

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