How ‘Suite’ it is: Our First Basement Suite Renovation


Ready for Tenants: Our First Basement Suite Renovation

We want to share our first basement suite renovation with you.  It is amazing how a space can be transformed with a slight layout change, paint and flooring!  While we did some of the work ourselves, we also hired a contractor to coordinate the needed trades (plumbers, carpenters, etc).  To give you an idea of the changes, we did a rough sketch of the original basement and current basement suite floor plans (not to scale).  Below are some pictures of the finished basement suite renovation and some of the process to get there (sorry for the low quality, many of these were taken on our phones waaaaay before we ever thought we would be sharing these pictures on a blog).










The garage and most of the house was full of stuff when we looked at it.  Fortunately, it was clear when we took possession.  It can be hard to see past people’s personal items to the potential of a space.  It can also be hard to look past signs of mice and mold – see the dark spots on the yellow insulation?  This mold was because there wasn’t a proper seal around the garage door.  Additionally, there was also a door between the garage and bedroom downstairs that wasn’t properly sealed (that’s where the above before picture was taken from).  This made it easy for mice to get into the house and left the basement feeling damp without the proper weather barrier.

Living Room

previous garage area finished with paint on the walls and flooring in -ready for tenants

For the basement suite renovation, the garage door was replaced with the entry door and window.  With this, the space brightened up remarkably! Obviously, when the garage door was removed and the window/door were added it sealed everything nicely – no more dampness!


wall removed from garage, looking into what is now the kitchen. Paint is done, cabinets and flooring are in.
Kitchen cabinets in, waiting for counter top and appliances

We eliminated the 2nd bedroom by removing the walls to make for an open, spacious kitchen and living room. Previously, the bedroom was dark because it only had one small window for light.  Removing the second bedroom’s walls really opened up the space and was the layout change needed for the basement suite renovation.  Additionally, it let the light through from the new window and door in the living room, as well as from the back entry door.  This is where you can see the biggest difference as it is where most of the change was done.  It really transformed the feeling of the space from basement to apartment.


We mentioned the basement felt damp due to poor exterior sealing – well, that was one reason.  Unfortunately, we discovered another reason – creative/shoddy plumbing.  As such, more floor outside of the bathroom by the kitchen had to be removed to accommodate the new (proper) plumbing as well as tie in the drain for the new kitchen sink.  When we think about setbacks and frustrations, this was definitely one of them.  And, yes, that is a wooden riser underneath the toilet (Eeewwww!)  While it was easy enough to remove, we didn’t expect to need a plumber to cut the pipe and flange that was ¾ of an inch too high with the wood removed.  We suspect this is why the wood was placed.  This bathroom didn’t change much except for fixing the plumbing and a fresh coat of paint.


This is the remaining bedroom.  We took a bit of space in the corner for a storage room for ourselves (which we access from the shared laundry room space). We also removed that dropped section of ceiling in front of the closet because it contained nothing but old pipes that didn’t connect to anything.  Some paint, flooring and shelving in the closets make for a good size bedroom.

Finally, the water shutoff for the house got moved from the bedroom to the common space by the washer/dryer. We also added sound barrier to the the ceiling to reduce noise transfer between the floors.

In the end, this basement suite renovation took us longer than we thought but it was well worth it.  Having a contractor that was trustworthy made all the difference in our quality of life as this was happening (and allowed us time to plan our wedding).  The time and consideration we put in to what good neighbors would want in the space also really paid off because the tenants we have now are fantastic.

What stage are you at in your basement suite renovation?  Let us know in the comments!

-Sean and Denise

P.S. Please pin your favorite image before you go!

Check out our basement suite renovation. From start, middle and end, see the process unfold from possibility to a basement suite ready for tenants.

Check out our basement suite renovation. From start, middle and end, see the process unfold from possibility to basement suite ready for tenants.



  1. Ruth

    Amazing! I am sure that it was hard for you to remember what you started with because the finished product turned out so well! It looks like the suite would appeal to a broad spectrum of tenants and what a pleasure it would have been to start with something new! Big congratulations!

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