Basement Renovation Vs. Second Floor Top Up

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Posted by: from Toronto
12/9/2012 at 11:46:48 AM


I am the owner of a ~1940 Toronto bungalow which I purchased 3 Years ago. As a growing family, we would likely add a second floor addition sometime in the future (~10 Years), however need more space at present.

I am contemplating a major basement renovation (~$50,000 Cost) which includes Strucutral, Waterproofing and fininishes, however I do not want to see all this money wasted if we decide add a second floor to the home down the road.

Any advise would be appreciated.

Thank You.

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Douglas from Dougs Demolition in Plainfield
Date/Time12/9/2012 at 1:15:06 PM

Well for starter this is a good start you will be able to see and determine any future delames that might have to be fixed in order to do your add on. You will be able to get structure and foundation reports if they do the renovations and every thing gets aproved through your building inspection, then you will be good to go in future.

Let me know how you make out.

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David from Chetco Homes in Fort Erie
Date/Time12/9/2012 at 1:45:45 PM

Good place to start. Make sure you have a sound foundation to support the upper levels.

I would suggest you think about doing the basement as a separate living quarters. Small kitchenette and bathroom. That way if you don't need it latter you can rent out for extra income.

Have a Merry Christmas.

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Date/Time12/9/2012 at 1:55:22 PM

Before you consider doing a second storey addition I would do a market analisys to see if you doing a second storey addition would make sense. After doing the addition, it would be a shame to realize a loss in return on resale. Alot of people do these things and don't realize that there is no value in personal convenience or desires.

My vote would be to do the basement reno and I bet you could do it for a lot less than the $50,000 menetioned in your question. Just be sure you find a contractor that that will do the project the way you want it completed and on budget.

Obviously you should have a contingency plan for any extras that may occur do to unforseen circumstances. Traditionally I tell my clients that 10-15% of the total budget is the best plan.

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Date/Time12/9/2012 at 2:22:17 PM

Hello there

I agree with David from Chetco Homes. If you do make your basement into a second apartment to gain profit, just make sure you follow the city of Toronto regulations, and bylaws or you could be looking at some serious fines!

If you choose to add on the apartment in the basement you should have a look at this



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Olivia from JDesigners in Ajax
Date/Time12/9/2012 at 4:10:38 PM

Basement reno is a good way to get more living space and is 3-4 times cheaper and less hectic than an addition. Also, takes weeks instead of months. Obviously, you have to find the right contractor to carry out and finish your project as working on an older home brings more challenges than a newer home.

Good luck!


Olivia Joy

New Accounts Manager

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Date/Time12/9/2012 at 6:07:51 PM

Good Afternoon:

Before making any decisions you will have to check to see IF your current foundation/footings will carry the load of a second storey. Start with trying to get any blueprints that you can, and then it will be up to a structural engineer to determine if you can go ahead with the second storey.

If you can go ahead with it, see if there is a market for your second storey, and if you can recover your costs. You will find that it is cheaper to go with the basement reno, if it will serve your purpose. If that isn't enough space, it may be cheaper to search for another dwelling and put yours on the market.


Meadowood Homes

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Date/Time12/10/2012 at 12:01:06 AM

Personally I wouldn't spend too much money on your basement if you have future plans for a second storey.

To add a second storey you will need access for new ductwork, electrical and plumbing. In addition,

most people reconfigure their main floor a little bit to make room for stairs and to eliminate some of the smaller bedrooms that a bungalow usually has.

Waterproofing from the outside would would be a good investment though and is not affected by building up.

Good luck.

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Date/Time12/10/2012 at 7:29:22 AM

In todays market, trends are really leaning towards utilizing every square foot of space. Whether you watch the experts on the how to home improvement shows, or make a trip to your local big box lumber store, home improvement is everywhere. Real estate agents will tell you as well, that any improvement you make to your home will not be wasted money.

My advice to you at this point would be to talk to a local real estate agent in your area and bring them up to speed on your plans. Questions for them would be: what will my return on investment be. Will i be over building for the neighborhood. Can i expect my home price to increase over the next ten years.

Base your decision on these questions and answers.

Good Luck!

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John in Toronto
Date/Time12/10/2012 at 9:51:27 AM

Thank you for all your responses.

I believe one contractor mentioned to me ripping out the ceiling to provide new radiant heating pipes, electrical and plumbing, etc. to support the second storey would result in a ton of wasted money that I'm willing to spend today on my basement.

Note, the basement project is fairly extensive (Removing Load Bearing Walls/Installing Steel Beams, Waterproofing, etc.) which would likely cost ~$50,000 with finishes, therefore I wouldn't want to see a good portion of it go to waste if we do decide to build up in the future.

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Date/Time12/10/2012 at 8:06:25 PM

In our experience there are two types of value created from basement renovations. As an Edmonton basement renovation builder we call them usable value and resale value.

Usable value; How usable is the space right now and how important is it to me and my family at this moment. If there is a need in the family for more space the basement is the quickest and most affordable way to go.

Resale value; How much return on our dollar is it going to bring to our customer when they are ready to sell. A good market analyses from a local realtor can bring this some light.

Either way developing your basement you are adding value to your home.

Good luck with your project.

Mr. H Gavacs

Man Zone Construction Ltd.

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Kendall from MG Inc. in Mississauga
Date/Time12/10/2012 at 9:03:50 PM


Thanks for reaching out to us at MG Inc. I understand your concern; we face this concern with many of our clients. No one wants to spend money doing something in the short term to only have to remove or demolish it down the road.

The best advice I have for you is to plan! Utilizing a qualified designer and contracting team can really determine what structural requirements would be needed down the road and how they can economically be installed today.

I hope that helps - a little bit of planning goes a long way.



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John in Toronto
Date/Time12/10/2012 at 9:16:36 PM

Thank you for all the great replies. I'm not that concerned about value enhancement as I am actively work in the Real Estate industry and well aware of cost and value enhancement of the improvements. When purchasing the property, I went for location and lot, and plan to be here a very very long time (God willing). So the plan was to continuously improve the property when we could afford.

I guess my question revolves more around "Wasted Cost", what expenses should I avoid today (or incur today) in my basement, that won't go to waste when we decide to build up in the future. The "all in" cost of this basement reno will likely be well north of $50K and may entail:

1) Removing Load Bearing Walls for open concept

2) Installing new steel posts/beams that would support a second storey

3) Interior Weeping Tile/Sump Pump/Back Water Valve

4) Replacing Concrete Slab, insulating, vapour barier, gravel, replacing floor drains, underground pipes, etc.

5) Heated Radiant Floors

6) Laminate and/or engineered hardwood Flooring

7) New Electircal, Plumbing, radiant Heaters

8) New 3 piece Bath and Kitchenete

How much of this would go to waste if I decide to build up in the future? What exactly would have to be redone?

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Henna in Mississauga
Date/Time4/12/2013 at 2:05:35 PM

Hi John,

I have a bungalow in the Mineola area of Mississauga and would be really interested to know what you wound up doing as my husband and I are in the same dilemma.

We bought the lot with long term reno's in mind for a growing family. Currently we have just one floor with a crawl space and would like to dig out the basement first, and then add a second floor possibly a few years down the road.

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