A finished basement can make a huge difference to the resale value of your home, as well as providing you with an extension of your living space. If you’re going to do any home renovations in Toronto, you have around 14 weeks before the weather starts to cool down and winter is almost here. Some of the work you can do while it’s cold, but things like plumbing services have to be done before the end of fall when the ground starts to harden outdoors.

Here are some ideas for finishing your basement in a practical, affordable way:

Add New Windows

Many basements have either no windows or tiny ones. Without decent-sized windows it’s difficult to imagine using the room as a living area, so windows are an essential aspect of any basement renovation. If you already have windows in place, check to see whether the frames need replacement—often, they are old and poorly fitting, which means heat can pass in and out making the room hot in summer and cold in winter. Add double glazing and good insulation and the saving on your hydro bills will balance the extra cost of the windows.

Fit Quality Lighting

By their nature basements are dark and gloomy, and older Toronto homes often have one or two scrappy lights mounted in odd places. Remember, you’re almost never going to get the sun coming into the room, so you need to create the effect of daylight with quality lighting. Pot lights are a great way to create a soft, pleasant glow, and by adding a dimmer switch you can control how bright and warm the room gets.

Do the Floor

The majority of unfinished basements come with concrete floors, which can cause problems if you cover them over without appropriate treatment options. Address any dampness or moisture before you install the finishes. Add terra-cotta tiling for a long-lasting, flood-resistant option, or install plywood sub-floor before hardwood, laminated flooring or carpeting. This helps to protect your finishes in case of basement flooding problems.

Install a Bathroom

Nothing makes life easier for your whole family than having an additional bathroom in the home. The basement is often a prime spot to install one because most homes already have water inlet and outlets located close by. Easily extend your plumbing services to the new bathroom by positioning it near to the water pipes and drainage systems, and you’ll have the benefit of an extra facility even when the basement isn’t in use.

Don’t Rent It Out

Remember, in Toronto, you’re not allowed to rent out a finished basement apartment with a separate entrance without it first passing a building inspection. Neither are you allowed to cook in the basement for safety reasons, but you’re certainly allowed to extend your living area and turn it into an entertainment room, a study or a child’s play area. Just make sure your plumbing services and other contractors do all alterations to code and you’ll get approval without difficulty.