Posts Tagged ‘basement remodeling’

Problems Caused by Damp Basements

If houses were perfect, the basement,crawl space or concrete slab would be desert dry.  There would be no wet walls or damp moisture.  Fungal growth, wood rot and smelly mildew would not exist.  Many people in New Jersey don’t pay enough attention to mold prevention or don’t think that damp walls can cause serious problems because a great part of the year their weather is dry. One of the first detections of a water problem is the smell of the air in that area.  If you have a finished basement, it is not immune to moisture even if the walls are dry walled or paneled.  Moisture has no limits and is a natural by-product of underground spaces.  Painted walls can start to peel over time and the wallpaper that you so carefully put on matching up seams can begin to stain.  Not only can it stain, but the edges will start to peel.

Putting a wood floor over concrete can be very tricky with a high probability that the wood will warp, lift, and shrink.  Put another way, you just aren’t sure what the effects of water and dampness can do to anything in an underground space.

How Concrete Channels water

To find out how moisture and dampness creates problems, you need to know how concrete and water interact.  As strong as concrete walls and floors look, they are actually a very porous surface.  A cinderblock doesn’t necessarily have to be visibly wet to be emitting moisture.  Moisture in the concrete foundations and floors can start to absorb wat

Bathroom Mold


er at a slow rate until a saturation point is reach.  This is when you will visibly begin to see the water on the walls.  When the dampness begins to come out of concrete (of any sort) it will damage anything it comes in contact with.  Carpets will become wet and wood will begin to rot.  Now that you have wet carpets and a rotting wood a smell, mildew and mold have a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and you should consider exploring a system to help you get rid of the mold and bacteria.

Many homeowners do not realize that water is forced upwards from poured concrete.  The dirt the slab is poured on is very moist because of the depth of the deep excavation of the foundation.  The sun will never see basements simply because they are underground.  Since the dry out process of any damage will take extremely long, if it happens at all, the best prevention is to remove the moisture as much as you can and keep the air dry.  At the very least, if you discover wet floors or carpets, put a box fan in that area.

Basement Storage

Most basements have an area designated for storage in addition to the finished section.  In the finished section, any material (carpets, furniture, walls, etc.) are fair targets for damage.  The smell is the first indicator that you have issues at hand.  If your basement is unfinished and you can see your foundation walls, you WILL have moisture issues to immunize yourself to.  As described above, anything that is directly in contact with the cement floor will begin to be damaged without your knowledge.  That being said, put some thought to your storage strategy.  Try to put things on the floor where air can flow between the floor and the storage items.  The air passage will allow dry air (assuming you have taken steps to get the air dry).  A table is a good example of taking pro-active steps to reduce moisture damage.  Use the table top to stack things on.  Be very careful if you plan on storing clothes in a basement.  If you do not have the clothes in garment bags, make sure there is space between each article of clothing so air can flow through them.  It is common for mold and mildew to form on unprotected clothing.  If that happens, bring in a large garbage can to start filling it up with clothes.  You won’t always see the mold and mildew even though it’s there.  You do see the evidence when the situation is out of control so don’t let it get to that point!

Remodeling After the Hurricane

Shingle Roof Repair

Shingle Roof

No one doubts the destruction that has been left behind Hurricane Sandy. For homeowners it is a time of rebuilding and many of the scheduled home remodeling projects have been put on hold for more pressing matters. Some damage is too extensive and must be handled by a professional, licensed contractor. This is typically due to safety issues. But there are several home remodeling projects that can be done by the homeowner, even if they have to wait on a contractor to do other things. Here are some of the home remodeling projects that can (and some should) be done after the hurricane. Continue reading

Finishing Your Basement: 5 Tips If You’re Starting from Zero

This is a guest post by Matthew Candelaria

Matthew Candelaria is a full-time writer with internet marketing company Page 1 Solutions, but working on weekends and evenings he recently finished the basement of his home, despite his previous near-total lack of home improvement skills. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son.

Finishing a basement is a daunting project, but if you complete it, you might double the room in your home and add significantly to your home’s value in the process. If your job situation is bad or unstable, moving to a new house might not be an option for getting the space your family needs. And with the housing market where it is, the chances are your home may have lost value since you bought it, and an improvement like this is a good way to bump up your equity, which can significantly improve your terms if you’re considering refinancing. So whether you are looking for more room or more equity or both, basement finishing makes sense.

For most of us, the cost of hiring a contractor to do the job is prohibitive, so it’s either do it ourselves or it doesn’t get done. But if you don’t have any experience with framing, wiring, plumbing, or other necessary skills, you might not know where to start. Here are a few tips to help you get on track and get good results.

Find a good book. If you’re really starting from zero, the most dangerous part of the project is what you don’t know you don’t know. A good home improvement manual will outline the project from start to finish and give you a good sense of what you’re dealing with. It will also give you the vocabulary for talking about your project to people who can help you learn what you need to know. Check several out from the library before deciding which one has the best illustrations and explanations that make sense to you.

1. Get a permit. No bones about it, getting a permit is expensive. Basically, they assess the projected value of the improvement and start taxing you on it up front, in addition to various other fees. But the permit is invaluable because it will:

a. Protect you from legal penalties if a nosy neighbor reports you to the code office

b. Ensure the value added from the project actually benefits you if/when you decide to sell the house. In some jurisdictions, assessors may look askance at work not to code, so the assessed value of the house will not reflect all your hard work.

c. Give you access to a wealth of practical information and advice.

2. Utilize the inspectors. Every time you call out the inspectors, they will not only assess your work, but also give good advice on how to do it better. It’s not a bad idea to call in an inspection before you get started to go over the project as approved by the planning office to ensure you understand what is being required of you. The inspectors are happy to give advice–it makes their job easier if you do it right the first time–but make sure you don’t abuse this resource or you can make an enemy that will make your life much harder.

3. Know when to tear it down and start fresh. Whether you’re dealing with work you did before you knew what you were doing or something done by a well-meaning, but completely ignorant previous owner, trying to preserve bad work can be more trouble than its worth. Tearing out the old work will save you time and grief.

4. Know when to call in a professional. There are some times when it is smart to call in a contractor because the job is too dangerous, technical, expensive, or time-consuming to do yourself. Think twice before trying to cut a hole in your foundation for an egress window. If you’re just not good at plumbing, you risk leaky or poorly functioning pipes when you do it yourself. And finishing drywall seams yourself can be excruciating–they can take forever and look terrible when they’re done. In these cases, a professional can get the job done better, faster, and for relatively inexpensive.

Following these steps will help you end up with a finished product you can be proud of, not to mention additional space and an increased home value. Good luck!