- Finish the Basement now or later
vs Detached garage
- What are the dangers of building
in cold weather?
- Thought for the Day
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1. Finish the basement
now or later
A frequent question of new home buyers is "Should I finish my basement
now or later?" The answer depends on your needs. If you need an extra
bedroom, bathroom, or a playroom for the kids, or if you need an in-law suite,
then "need" is the guiding factor, and now is the time to do it.
If you do not "need" the finished space now, but are thinking along
the lines of the next few years, we suggest that you get the outside walls
of the basement properly insulated top to bottom, vapour barrier applied,
and drywall applied, followed by a couple of coats of paint. In many communities,
the outside walls of basements have to be framed, insulated, and covered
with vapour barrier at the time the house is constructed. So the added cost
of the drywall, taping, and painting is minimal and it will really spruce
up the basement, as well as reduce heating costs. The best time to do this
is when the basement is still empty. Of course you will need to make sure
that your building permit covers this, and that your electrical work gets
done, and inspected. The cost can be quite nominal, for this extra drywall
work in the average basement.
This brings up another frequent question, "How much will finishing a
basement cost?" Again, personal taste comes into it a lot but $20 to
$25 per square foot is a rough guide, and should turn a typical basement
into a comfortable living area. Remember, the finishing and the furnishing
really impact the appearance of living space.
From a health perspective, you will really appreciate a properly finished
basement because the house is much easier to keep clean and less prone to
mould, and dampness.
Regardless of timing, finishing a basement is a big project and will require
a great deal of planning. You must decide what will be the purpose of the
rooms, and what will be the layout of the entire area. Bathrooms and kitchens
will require extra consideration. In addition, you and your contractor will
have to address issues such as heating, cooling, airflow, and dehumidification.
Flooring is an important matter. Ideally, a basement floor should have a
wooden sub floor on top of the concrete, then a healthy flooring material
applied on that. This will ensure a warm and dry floor for the living area.
Ceilings are another interesting topic for basement finishing. As mentioned,
drywall is the least expensive and most attractive finish. However, it may
not be the right way to go in the basement of your new home. Once drywall
is up, rearrangements of water pipes, electrical wiring, central vacuum,
ductwork, and telephones, all become much more complicated. A good quality
suspended grid system with sound absorbing ceiling tile is another alternative.
Also combinations of drywall and suspended ceilings in basements, can be
attractive as well. Bedrooms under bedrooms are probably not going to need
much rearrangement, so their ceilings could be done with drywall.
Building material is continuously increasing in cost, as is labour. If we
use a conservative 5% as the year over year average cost increase, we see
that what costs $1000 now will cost about $1276 in 5 years. So a 1000 square
foot basement, at $23/sq.ft. will cost about $23000 to finish today, but
$29,348 in 5 years.
Whatever you decide, get 3 to 5 estimates, personally verify numerous referrals
for each contractor, make sure you have a contract, and obtain all necessary
building permits. Finally, be vigilant in your selection of contractors.
Some Useful Links
Basement Finishing ideas at Eran Building and Remodelling Company
2. Attached vs. Detached Garage
Consumers building a home have a number of considerations to take into account
when making a decision if they should add an attached garage to their home
or if they should consider a detached garage. Design specifications, intended
use, code requirements, cost, air filtration from the garage into the home,
and city bylaws are some of the major items to think about. We will explore
each of these areas in this short newsletter. If you would like more information,
the web sites listed at the end of this article can provide you with additional
If you are planning an attached garage, generally the exterior design will
fit the design of your home and you need to make decisions about the interior
of your attached garage. Items such as size of your garage, single or multiple
garage doors, garage door opener’s, number and location of electrical
outlets, work areas, central vacuum outlet, telephone outlet, lighting especially
if there is a work area involved and amount of storage space that you will
require. Detached garages will have all of the same issues, in addition to
exterior design, location of the garage relative to your home and access
to the garage from the street. Utilities such as electrical and telephone
will need to be connected to your home and placed in protective conduit between
your home and the detached garage.
Most garages, attached or detached are used for parking the owner’s
vehicles, yard storage and sometimes a small work area. If you plan something
more ambitious, such as vehicle maintenance, major hobbies, then these should
be taken into account when deciding on the type of garage you will select
as well as interior design.
The majority of cities and towns in North America have developed code requirements
covering the construction of attached and detached garages. The reader is
strongly encouraged to check with your local officials for building code
requirements and also any permit requirements you may need. Your local builder
can also generally assist you with city bylaw requirements and all inspections
Cost of your Garage
There are many factors, which will determine the overall cost of your garage.
You may decide to hire a general contractor or manage the construction yourself.
If you have an attached garage, then your house contractor will likely manage
the addition of your garage. If you decide on a detached garage, you may
need quotes for excavation, form setting, concrete, carpentry, roofing, electrical,
bricklaying if applicable, siding installation etc. Building your attached
garage can provide reduced cost for construction of your garage, since one
or perhaps two of the walls will be interior walls of your home.
Attached garages have a health consideration that is not generally found
with detached garages. Studies have shown that fumes from various items stored
in the garage can infiltrate the home from an attached garage. Gasoline for
yard tools such as lawn mowers or snow blowers, chemicals for gardens etc
can find their way into your house, both into the basement as well as into
the main living areas of the home. If you are susceptible to any kind of
pollutants, then this may be a major consideration you will take into account
when deciding on a detached vs. attached garage.
Some useful links to check out
Planning your Garage
Example of Detached and Attached Garage Requirements
Air Infiltration from Attached Garages in Canadian Houses
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3. What are
the Dangers of Building in Cold Weather?
Builders and homeowners alike are concerned about construction during winter
months, particularly in cold climates were the temperature routinely is
below freezing for much of the winter. This article will cover issues surrounding
the pouring of concrete foundations in cold weather.
If the proper building construction techniques are not followed, concrete
will not cure properly causing potential problems later on such as cracking
and dusting to name two concerns. Not only will you reduce the strength
of the concrete, dusting may occur and cause possible indoor environment
problems later for the homeowner. We also recommend to homeowners to seal
any exposed concrete walls with a good quality concrete sealer to reduce
the effect of concrete dust on household air quality. This article will
discuss some of the steps homeowners should look for when considering having
a home constructed during the cold winter months. We have also have provided
a number of web sites for those who require additional information and
detail as a reference.
In order for concrete to cure properly, temperature minimums and moisture
levels must be managed during the curing cycle to ensure proper 28 day
strength characteristics are achieved. Cold weather concreting requires
special steps to ensure that the concrete does not freeze and also does
not dry too rapidly during cold dry winter months.
Prior to pouring concrete in winter months, builders must plan for proper
equipment, manpower, weather protection, and appropriate concrete mix with
accelerating admixtures and heated mixtures to help develop early concrete
strength. All snow an ice must be removed from concrete forms and the sub
base prior to pouring concrete and all items that come in contact with
concrete should be not be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Concrete pouring and curing must be managed in cold weather situations.
The cost of winter construction with the additional requirements identified
below must be compared to delays until warmer spring or summer temperatures.
Special attention must be given to the following:
5. Subscription Information
Ensure concrete has cured
and do not allow concrete to prematurely dry
Keep Ice from forming, which
stops hydration and seriously impairs strength
Use insulation blankets
Avoid direct contact with
heaters, that may cause soft dusting
Ensure heaters do not run
out of fuel and avoid fire hazards
Remove heat protection
in a manner that prevents rapid cooling of
Triple insulation at corners
and edges of walls
Leave forms in place as
long as possible to prevent rapid drying
Ask your builder to explain
the step they will take to ensure a high strength
properly cured concrete foundation and floor
for your new home.
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