Converting Your Edmonton Basement into Living Space: The Whys and the Hows

Basement apartment with walk-out

(Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash)

One thing we’ve all learned through the past few years is that it’s important for our homes to be the best spaces they can be. With people spending more time at home, working from home, and schooling from home, our houses have needed to become harder-working and more versatile than ever before.

If you’re feeling the need for more space, more income, or more flexibility, you may be sitting on answers to your problems. Renovating your basement and making it into living space might be just what you need. In fact, basement renovations, specifically converting an unfinished basement into living space or a bedroom suite, are one of the most popular home renovations in Alberta today. Basement renovations are generally more affordable than home additions or similar improvements–you get a lot more for your money.

Why Convert Your Basement?

Your Family is Changing

Dark blue basement bathroom

(Photo by Rhema Kallianpur on Unsplash)

As your family grows and changes, having extra bedrooms or living space in your basement may be a great help. If you’re expecting a child, you may find yourself needing to reshuffle your family a little. Moving an older child or two downstairs may give you the nursery space you need to keep your new little one nearby.

A growing teenager may appreciate a basement bedroom’s increased space and privacy. You can give them a place to hang out with their friends that isn’t disruptive to the rest of the family.

With the cost of rent being so high, a basement with its own entrance might be helpful for your college student or young adult–a way for them to feel freedom and independence but not have to make outrageous payments on a place of their own.

Or maybe you have an older relative who needs more care. A basement bedroom or suite could give them a measure of freedom while still keeping them close by in case they need help. If your basement has a walk-out, even better. You can make a patio right outside their door so they can enjoy the sunshine on lovely days or be able to take a walk.

You’re Home a Lot More Often

In our post-pandemic world, we are all still spending more time at home. It can feel crowded, especially if your spaces pull double-duty (your home office is also your dining room table, for example). A finished basement can provide the space you need for 

  • a home office
  • a gym for working out
  • a hobby room
  • a media room
  • a designated guest room
  • and more

White basement home office

(Photo by Point3D Commercial Imaging Ltd. on Unsplash)

A finished basement can relieve a little of the crunch you and your family feel in your home, and give you some breathing room.

You’d Like to Rent it Out

Many people are converting their basements into secondary suites and renting them out. You need to apply for the necessary permits and make sure renting your basement is allowed in your area, but assuming it is, this can be a great way to make some extra income. 

Basement apartment with table

(Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash)

In order to be a legal secondary suite, your basement will need to have

  • its own living, cooking, sleeping, and sanitary facilities
  • a separate entrance from the main home
  • a minimum ceiling height
  • a separate HVAC system from the main house
  • bedroom egress windows
  • fire separation from the main house
  • interconnected smoke alarms

By finishing your basement into a secondary suite, you will increase your home’s flexibility and supplement your income at the same time.

You’re Thinking of Selling

With an ROI (return on investment) of around 70%, a finished basement can add significant value to your home. Depending on factors like the square footage of the finished space, how many windows it has, and whether it’s a walk-out or not, your ROI might be even higher.

If your main reason for finishing your basement is to sell, keep in mind that you should make the space as flexible as possible for future owners. It would be better to create a kind of blank canvas that they can use for whatever purpose they want, rather than task-specific rooms like a gym, wet bar, or home theater.

How to Convert Your Basement 

Basement remodels come with their own specific set of challenges because most basements are at least partially below grade. Since basements tend to be darker than the rest of the house, it can be difficult to achieve a warm and cheerful feel. Here are some things to consider before you begin your basement remodel.


You should try to bring in as much natural light as possible. A walk-out basement can have glass doors or doors with windows. Egress windows and window wells can help channel light into the space as well. 

Since basements tend to be dark, aim for warm lighting from several different sources. Recessed lights are a great choice, especially if you pair them with table lamps and accent lights like sconces.

Cozy basement bedroom with lamp

(Photo by mk. s on Unsplash)


Below-grade spaces often need more insulation to keep them from feeling cold and clammy. Talk with your contractor about what types of insulation are best for your project. And since the ceiling of your basement is the floor of your main house, make sure you have high-grade, noise-blocking insulation installed to muffle the sounds of footsteps.


Because of potential moisture issues in the basement, many homeowners opt not to use carpet. Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are a great option, and you can make the space feel warm and cozy by adding area rugs. Other flooring choices include tile, linoleum, and stone. For a high-end basement remodel, cork or bamboo floors are popular.

Basement floor with rug and green chair

(Photo by Alex Plesovskich on Unsplash)


Many basements hold the home’s air conditioning unit, furnace, and water heater. It’s important to provide space for these utilities to operate and be serviced, but you probably don’t want to see them all the time. Your contractor can help you come up with a plan to build a utility room or closet with an outlet, so your home’s utilities will remain easily accessible but hidden from sight.

Is a Basement Remodel Your Next Step?

If you are feeling the pinch of a too-small house, embracing the changes of a growing family, looking for space for hobbies or to entertain, or considering selling your home, finishing your basement may be the right step for you. We can help you accomplish your goals for your home and family. Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can turn your Edmonton basement into usable space that serves your family and your lifestyle.

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