The Expandables dig deep and deliver a dramatic basement makeover
It’s a common dilemma for a growing family. Over time, the usable house space seems to simply shrink. Enter contractor Rob Evans and interior designer Mia Parres, co-hosts of HGTV’s “The Expandables.” Their motto – “We find spaces in impossible places” – and their show both promise to help homeowners solve design issues without actually building additions or adding an extra floor.
This basement renovation was done for sports enthusiasts Heather and Graham, who found themselves with two young children, a mountain of sporting equipment, and very little space. “They really are our stereotypical couple,” explains Evans, “Once you have two kids, almost everyone is in a similar situation.” Heather and Graham had a bigger problem than most, because of the mountain of sporting gear they own, which included everything from camping equipment and bikes (eight of them) to ski gear. Even a canoe!
“This was still stuff they were actually using. They were just a very active family,” says Evans. To solve the problem, Evans moved the equipment out of the basement to a mudroom at the back of the house. “You can tell someone to pare down, but they still had gear that they needed to access. This was probably the biggest challenge of the entire project.”
Evans and Parres planned a basement layout that would take the pressure off the upper floors of the house – and make them much more useable. Prior to the reno, out-of-town guests slept in the baby’s room right next to the crib and Graham’s home office and the kids’ play space were both located in the couple’s bedroom.
Their new basement now includes a designated family room that doubles as a guest room, a kids’ area, laundry room, second bathroom and storage. There’s even a workspace for Graham. Not bad for a 16 x 36’ space.
Inviting and functional
Evans started the reno by removing the main floor wall that hid the basement stairs, allowing maximum light to flood down below. He also widened the staircase by six inches to make it that much more inviting and functional.
Down below, a crew dug the floor down about a foot and a half to add some much needed height. (Evans says this costs between $40,000 to $50,000 if you’re thinking about it.) “There’s nothing that says appealing in a basement reno like adding that extra space,” he says. The next step was to move the furnace and water heater, which were located in the dead centre of the room, like so many typical urban basements. The final major task was to level the footing. “Back in the day, basement floors weren’t exactly like what we call floors,” laughs Evans. “They sloped like crazy!” Nothing a little self-leveling compound couldn’t fix!
To stay on budget, the team skipped the drywall and framing on one wall, choosing instead to line the space with a series of Ikea Pax units with built-in shelving. Evans squeezed more storage space under the staircase.
But perhaps the biggest “wow factor” is the flooring. It’s a simple, loose-lay vinyl floor with a wood-like pattern. “This is ideal for basement spaces because there’s always that possibility of flooding,” says Evans. “With this vinyl, if flooding does occur, you can just peel a strip off, let the floor dry, and then put it back on. It’s simple!”
Some of the plumbing was already in place for the basement bathroom and laundry room, but first Evans had to solve a drainage problem by removing a huge root that had clogged one of the drains.
The stunning results had the couple nearly in tears at the big reveal. In the end, Parres calculated that the original $700,000 home had increased in value to $745,000. “What I love about this project is that we took space they already had and just revamped it to make it massively multi-purpose and 100 per cent useable,” says Evans.
The dramatic makeover might inspire you to take a long second look at your own space, and imagine the possibilities.