A Basement Development Journey

Bringing Copper & Turquoise to Life

11. Underground Plumbing
It was now time to bust open the concrete floor so we could move a few drains around. In this case, there were two things that had to be perfect:

  1. According to code, there must be a certain amount of clearance on either side of the toilet
  2. We needed 57” for the washer and dryer

Once we had those variables measured out, we were able to make the shower as big as possible based on the space we had and knowing where our plumbing needed to be. Once that was completed and the plumbers had done their work, including a backwater sewer valve, stormwater check valve, and floor drain, we got the plumbing inspector in to have a look. We had no problems and got the green sticker to keep going! Now we could backfill and compact the area followed by a concrete pour.

Backfilled, compacted & concrete poured

Underground plumbing

Underground plumbing

12. HVAC
We had to relocate a lot of the heating ducts because of the change in floor plan, and because we didn’t agree with where some of them were located to begin with. In addition, we knew we were going to have to deal with the supply air and return air trunk lines because they were going to be a forehead smasher at the bottom of the stairs.

Trunk line fabrication

New duct work completed

We brought in our HVAC contractor, and he was able to rebuild the system, changing the size and location of the duct work. We gained 10” at the bottom of the stairs and it is now out of the way.

After the inspection and our subsequent green sticker of approval, we proceeded with the next step.

13. Framing

Bulkhead framing

Laundry room/bathroom framing

Now that we have all the what and where figured out, the framing stage is when it all starts to take shape. The frost walls went up first with a pressure treated base plate. This is the very bottom of the wall that sits on the concrete slab. These chemically treated 2 x 4’s were essential in this location due to the nature of some slabs having a high moisture content.

Once the frost walls were up, we framed up the interior walls & window openings. Keeping with the 45-degree theme of this basement. All the walls and bulkhead corners were built this way to enhance the flow and smooth transition of the space. As usual, we used a variety of lasers to establish straight bulkheads and plumb walls. Due to the slab floor being so inconstant, framing took a little extra time. Almost every stud had to be individually measured to ensure a snug fit. It would have been nice to level the floor first, but due to scheduling conflicts, we made this work.

14. Plumbing Rough-in
After the framing was complete, the plumbers arrived again to run water and drain lines to the washer, shower, sink and toilet. As it turned out, due to massive corrosion at most of the copper fitting connections and a couple leaks, we decided with the client, to tear out all the copper and upgrade to a seamless water line product known as PEX.

To provide clear communication to the plumbers, all drains and shower valve locations were previously marked out, so they were in and out quickly.

  • Shower water supply and valve – Check
  • Toilet water supply – Check
  • Lavatory water supply and drain – Check
  • Washer water supply and drain – Check
  • Clean-outs as required – Check

Then it was time to get our electricians in there.

Bathroom plumbing

15. Electrical Rough-in & Lighting Layout
There is a very specific reason why the order of trades is the way it is. HVAC first, then plumbing, then electrical. Do you know why?

The reason for this is simple – real estate. HVAC needs the most room, so this contractor comes in first to run the big duck work, consisting mostly of ridged pipe. Next is plumbing. They work with a lot smaller pipe and can always find a way. All they need is a few inches and some gravity in most cases. With PEX water lines, they can wiggle their way around almost anything.

Last comes the electricians who have small wires to route around and only have to drill small holes.
The electrical situation in this basement was a disaster when we began, but with proper planning, oodles of circuit demo, and master trades, we had no problems passing this inspection.

For this basement renovation, as in all our renovations, a lot of time was spent laying out the lighting. I always recommend a higher count of 4” LED lights as opposed to fewer 6” lights. They must be in straight line, an appropriate distance away from the walls, centred as required and overall, in an aesthetically pleasing layout. Combine all these design elements, and you end up with very minimal shadow casting on the walls, great home office work lighting and spectacular feature lighting. Throw in some dimmers and voila, a well-lit basement!

Lastly, as we always do, we drew a map of all the light locations because we were close to drywalling right over everything. With a map drawn, we know exactly where to drill the holes for our lights later.

Lasers being used for receptacle elevations

Location marked for vanity light in bathroom

16. Crawl Space Repair
Did I mention this house had a main floor addition? The crawl space was not finished properly from the addition and the main floor was sinking and squashing the heavily water damaged ladder framing below.

To repair it, we had to jack it up with tele posts, almost an inch in the worst spot, remove all the damaged framing, and reframe it. Once the new framing was in place, we simply let the jacks down until everything was level, shimmed as required, and sealed up the outside properly. Now it was pest proof and ready for spray foam. A bonus from this work was that the patio door above finally operates smoothly again!

Watch our quick  Crawl Space Repair video to see the process for yourself!

Water damage in crawl space wall

Removing jacking system

17. Courtesy Mapping
Ever hear of courtesy mapping? Often, for aesthetical reasons, we will drywall over plumbing access points such as clean-outs. You’ve probably seen those square headed plugs sticking out of a basement wall that are not easy to hide. We drywall over them, but always know where they are – aka courtesy mapping. This is just a simple drawing with measurements of where these points of interest are. If there is ever a need to access these, simply refer to the digital or hard copy, and the plumber will know exactly where to cut open the drywall.
18. Insulation
I’ve said it over and over in blogs and videos; spray foam insulation is, without a doubt, the best way to go when insulating a basement foundation. This Edmonton basement renovation was no different, but there was a little extra from the ordinary – the crawl space.

As you just saw, it was an unfinished crawl space used strictly for mechanical runs, but it still needed to be warm and sealed up properly. To accomplish this, after the structural repairs, our insulation technician laid a 10 mil poly vapour barrier on the sandy floor and fastened it to the concrete foundation wall. Then he sprayed an R20 foam insulation to the walls and joist ends. This resulted in a warm crawl space, which is important for the comfort of the living room and bathroom floor above, as well as preventing the water lines from freezing. The poly also eliminates any musty smell that can potentially come from a raw earth floor.

In addition to the crawl space and prior to insulating, the entire basement foundation was vacuumed to rid the walls of any dust, resulting in a much better adhesion of the spray foam. Then, all foundation walls and joist ends were filled with foam to R20. When using spray foam, no poly vapour barrier is required as the insulation is a closed cell product, meaning no humidity or air can travel through it.

Spray foam rig

Spray foam insulation completed in laundry room wall

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