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Basement renovations are a very popular way to extend the living space in your home here in Ottawa. Many older homes never had a finished basement by the builder and were often used for storage or laundry only. If you have purchased an older home in Ottawa and want to finish the basement, or if you are just looking to renovate an existing home that never had that space properly renovated, here are some basic points to keep in mind when making your plan.


Choosing between carpet, tile, laminate or hardwood is an essential part of making your basement space livable. Many people love carpet for the soft touch and comfort it provides in the winter. Others prefer hardwood or tile for easy cleaning and durability. When looking to renovate your basement, think about what you will be using it for, what kind of traffic it will see, and what flooring material best suits your needs.


One of the most popular lighting choice for finished basements in modern homes is recessed lighting (pot lights). This lighting provides a modern look in the home and can really illuminate your basement space with style. While it may seem simple, know that you must choose the placement, type of bulbs and size of your recessed lighting options and it will require some planning. It will also require a licensed electrician to handle the wiring.

While you are planning your basement renovation, it might be a good idea to have an electrician take a look at your home electrical panel as well. This is especially true in older homes, where the panel may require updating to accommodate the new electrical that you want to install in your finished basement.

Ceiling Clearance

Residential dwellings have a minimum clearance requirement for ceiling height in basements. Keep this in mind for your basement space, especially for older homes as they were often designed with the basement as a storage area, not a full-sized living space.

According to the Ontario Building Code, basement ceilings in newly finished spaces can be as low as 6’5” under beams and ducts, but at least 75% of the required floor area must be at least 6’11” in height. For more specifics, know that the Ontario Building Code applies differently depending on the age of your home. If your home is greater than 5 years old, Part 11 of the OBC applies, while newer construction is covered by Part 9.

Egress Windows

Older homes often have basement windows with very little space for egress or exit. In case of fire, it is always a good idea to have windows large enough to escape through. Converting your existing windows into egress windows not only adds greater safety for your home, but lots of more natural light to the basement living space. Consider converting your existing windows to larger egress windows during your basement renovation. It will provide peace of mind that your living space is properly suited for exit in case of emergency.

The requirements for basement windows vary and depend on whether you have a bedroom in the basement, if your windows open into a window well, and if you are planning on making your basement a secondary dwelling / rental apartment. Visit the Holland Homes and Renovations blog again in the upcoming weeks for our blog post specifically on egress window requirements for your basement space.

This post has covered just some of the basics of planning a basement renovation. Check back next week for Part 2 of our basement renovation series where we will cover some other key issues to consider when finishing your basement.