9 Things to Consider When Finishing Your Basement in Edmonton

October 19, 2023

Things to Consider When Finishing Your Basement in Edmonton - Featured Image

Finishing your basement in Edmonton can be a great way to add extra living space to your home. Whether you’re looking to add a bedroom, a home office, a recreational space or a basement suite, developing your basement can be a great way to get the most out of your home. Before you start, there are a few things to consider. 


First, you’ll need to decide on a budget. Edmonton basement development costs can vary depending on the size of the space and the type of renovation you’re looking for, but it costs between $6000 to $21,350 to finish a basement according to HomeAdvisor. You’ll also need to consider the cost of hiring a basement contractor. Make sure to do your research and find a contractor who’s experienced in developing basements and can provide you with a detailed quote.

Keep in mind that unexpected costs may arise during the project, so it’s always a good idea to have some extra funds set aside. 

Building Permits


Before starting a basement renovation or secondary suite on your property, you’ll need to obtain the necessary permits from the City of Edmonton. These permits ensure that your basement development meets building codes and safety regulations. Failure to obtain a building permit can result in fines and additional costs down the line. Be sure to check with the City of Edmonton for any specific permits or regulations that may apply to your basement finishing project.

Code Requirements for Secondary Suites

If you’re planning on adding a secondary suite in your basement, there are specific code requirements that must be met. These may include having separate entrances and exits, soundproofing between units, and proper Alberta fire code safety measures. It’s important to consult with the City of Edmonton to ensure that your secondary suite meets all necessary codes and regulations to receive a building permit.

When building a new home, your builder will review all of this with you and the permits needed are a part of the paperwork process. You can rest assured your new home and the basement suite will all be up to building code!

Moisture and Insulation

Moisture is a critical concern when finishing a basement suite. The basement, being below ground level, is naturally prone to moisture and dampness, which can lead to problems like mildew growth and structural damage. Before any renovation work starts, inspect your basement for signs of moisture, such as damp spots, water stains, or mould. If you find any, you may need to address the cause before proceeding, which could involve installing a sump pump, a drainage system, or applying a waterproofing sealer.

Insulation is another vital aspect of basement suites. Proper insulation not only helps maintain a comfortable temperature in your basement suite but also reduces energy costs by preventing heat loss.

For Edmonton, where winters can be harsh, insulation is critical to creating a secondary suite that can be used year-round. Closed-cell spray foam insulation is often recommended for basement secondary suites because of its high resistance to moisture and heat flow. Remember to also insulate your basement floors before installing any flooring solution, as the ground can become very cold during the winter months.

Basement Electrical and Plumbing

Electrical and Plumbing

Taking care of electrical and plumbing systems is a crucial part of any basement development plan. For the electrical system, consider the layout of your secondary suite and the purpose it will serve. For instance, a home theatre or gaming room will require more electrical outlets and possibly dedicated circuits than a simple bedroom or office. Ensure that your basement has enough circuits to handle the electrical load of your appliances, and don’t forget to add plenty of outlets for convenience. 

Also, remember to install sufficient, well-placed lighting to make the basement more inviting. This could involve recessed lighting, pendant lights, or even floor lamps, depending on your preference and space functionality. Safety regulations require the installation of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) in areas that may be exposed to moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchenettes.

Plumbing considerations come into play especially when basement suites include a bathroom or kitchen. You’ll need to consider the placement of the sewer line, as this could affect the location of your bathroom and kitchen.

It’s essential to note that basements are below the level of municipal sewer lines, so you might require a sewage ejector system. Additionally, proper ventilation is crucial for any plumbing system to function correctly, so ensure that your basement has adequate ventilation to prevent issues like sewer gases. Always work with licensed electrical and plumbing professionals. Not only will this ensure the job is done right, but it also ensures that the work is up to code, which is crucial when it comes to getting a permit, selling your home, or making an insurance claim.

Lighting and Ventilation

Basements are often lacking in natural light, so it’s important to plan for proper lighting when creating a legal basement suite. This may involve adding at least one window or installing additional lighting fixtures. Proper ventilation is also crucial in a basement to prevent mould and mildew growth. Consider adding a ventilation system or dehumidifier to keep your basement dry and comfortable.

Design and Layout

When it comes to the design and layout of your secondary suite, there are many factors to consider. Are you looking for an open-concept space or separate rooms? Will you need any structural changes such as removing walls or adding support beams?

It’s important to carefully plan out the layout to ensure that it meets your needs and complies with building codes. Consider consulting with an interior designer for guidance on maximizing the space in your basement.

Basement Multigenerational Suite With Side Entrance

Basement Suites For Multigenerational Families

Multigenerational families living together under one roof is a growing trend in Canada. A finished basement or secondary suite can provide an attractive and practical solution to accommodate this living arrangement. These spaces can offer grandparents, adult children, or other family members their own private living areas, while still providing the benefits of shared communal spaces.

Finishing a basement suite for a multigenerational family requires thoughtful consideration of accessibility and functionality. It’s essential to ensure that the space is safe and comfortable for all family members. This could involve installing grab bars in bathrooms, using non-slip flooring, or incorporating a walk-in shower for elderly family members. For younger generations, consider creating spaces that can double as a home office or study area.

For a seamless living experience, it’s also worth considering soundproofing between floors, to maintain privacy and reduce noise transfer. Equally, creating a separate entrance to the basement suite can foster a sense of independence, while keeping everyone connected.

Remember, successful multigenerational living is about balancing privacy and togetherness, and a well-planned basement suite can become the perfect haven for this purpose.

Basement Investor Suite

Basement Suites For Property Investors

The decision to finish a legal basement suite can be a great one for property investors in Canada. It represents an opportunity to increase the property’s total living space and enhance its overall value, building equity in the process. This is particularly advantageous in dense urban areas where land is at a premium, and extra square footage can command a higher market price.

Investors can also benefit from the potential additional income stream that legal secondary suites can provide. Renting out the secondary suite can generate consistent revenue, helping to offset mortgage payments or other investment property-related expenses.

Furthermore, a legal suite may appeal to a wide range of potential tenants, including students, young professionals, and small families who appreciate the affordability and practicality of these spaces. However, even if you purchase a property with an existing secondary suite it’s important to remember that any rental suite must adhere to local building codes and regulations, and investors should ensure that they are familiar with these before beginning any renovation work.

The Timing Of Your Basement Finishing

Now, if you want to do your own basement renovations, it’s important to remember that the timing of your basement finishing project can greatly affect its overall success and efficiency. 

Generally, renovating your existing basement is not a quick process, and you should be prepared for it to take several weeks to a couple of months, depending on the extent of the work being done (for example, a completely unfinished basement may require more work than updating an existing secondary suite.) Choosing the right time to start your basement project can also be influenced by factors such as the availability of contractors, the season, and your own personal schedule.

It’s also crucial to plan a detailed timeline for your basement suite project. This should include key milestones such as obtaining permits, completing inspections, and installing features like electricity, plumbing, and insulation. Each of these stages has its own timeframe, and delays in one stage can impact the entire project. Therefore, it’s recommended to have a buffer time built into your timeline to accommodate potential delays or unexpected issues.

Remember, a well-planned timeline can help ensure your project stays on track and is completed on schedule, providing you with a new living space as soon as possible.

Step One: Envision Your Basement’s Potential

Every nook and cranny in your home has a purpose. As you continue to live in your home, your needs evolve, and suddenly you’re asking more from your house than you did at the beginning. The silver lining? Your basement holds a treasure trove of space waiting to be utilized! From creating an additional living area to a dedicated laundry room, your basement in Edmonton can be transformed into anything you desire. The sky (or rather, the floor above) is the limit!

Step Two: Put Pen to Paper and Make a Plan

Your basement vision needs a blueprint. It’s time to map out your ideas and carve out a plan.  This plan should include detailed information and illustrate where every new wall, floor, fixture, and piece of furniture will be placed. Don’t overlook your electrical or plumbing requirements – you don’t want to tear apart your newly finished basement because of missed details. Also, consider consulting with a local building inspector to ensure everything aligns with building codes.

Basement Moisture

Step Three: Moisture Check (Better Safe Than Sorry)

Before swinging that hammer, it’s crucial to look for signs of moisture. If you spot any, it might indicate foundation or wall issues, warranting expert investigation. Checking this off early saves you from discovering issues after all the work is done, and gives you a chance to install preventive measures like a sump pump.

Step Four: A Thorough Inspection

Before you embark on your basement transformation journey, conduct a comprehensive inspection. Verify the integrity of supporting posts, ceilings, and other components. Get a professional to check plumbing and wiring as these tasks can be complex and potentially hazardous for a DIY enthusiast.

Step Five: Insulation Decision

Whether it’s spray foam, extruded polystyrene sheets, or the fluffy pink stuff, the right insulation impacts your wall construction and comfort during chilly months. It also plays a key role in moisture and mould prevention. Choose wisely!

Basement Drywall

Step Six: Wall Framing and Drywall Selection

Seal your foundation walls and construct your basement structure before you add the final touches. Given the basement’s susceptibility to moisture, consider moisture-resistant drywall, especially for areas like bathrooms or laundry rooms that might add extra moisture.

Step Seven: Flooring is the Foundation of Your Basement

With framing and drywall out of the way, it’s time to lay down your flooring. Ensure any subfloor cracks are repaired before installation. Remember, hardwood might not be the best choice due to potential moisture issues. Vinyl or laminate could be better options.

Step Eight: Finalize Your Finishing Touches

With walls and floors set, it’s time to introduce your finishing touches and furnishings. While the cost of a basement renovation can be significant, DIY can help save on expenses. However, always keep a buffer for unexpected costs like vents, windows, lights, and other decorative items.

Step Nine: When In Doubt, Seek Professional Help

If you ever find yourself out of depth, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals. Some aspects of a basement remodel can be risky, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Plus, a pro can expedite the process if you’re racing against time.

Whether you’re building a brand-new home with a legal secondary suite from scratch, or you’ve purchased a resale home with an existing basement that you plan to finish, it’s important to be aware of all the considerations when finishing your basement project.

By keeping these factors in mind and working with knowledgeable professionals, you can create a beautiful and functional basement suite that adds value to your home. So don’t overlook the potential of your basement – it could be the key to unlocking additional living space and financial possibilities in your property investment journey.  At Sterling, all our home models have the option to add a finished basement, so get in touch with us today to learn more! Let’s make your dream basement suite a reality.

Originally published February 1, 2018, updated October 19, 2023

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