Importance of basement DESIGN – Top 10 ideas and suggestions

Before construction begins, the most important step is a great design.  Some of our customers would like to build walls right along a beam or duct, and make closets in every nook in the basement.  Thinking in square boxes (literally), can cut up flow and interesting spaces.  We believe a well planned design is the most important part of your project, and something you will live with for years to come.

So what makes for a good design? Here’s our top 10 list
 

1.  Leave the largest room...
the largest room.  Don’t break up that space.  This is the “heart” of your design.  It will provide furniture placement flexibility, and accommodate future uses of the space as your family grows and changes uses for the basement.

​​​8.  Be Creative -
Introduce some creative elements that make your project unique.  Add a bar, home theater, or music studio.  Basements are a great place to express your individuality.  You should expect friends to say, “Wow!” in at least one area of your basement.  Every home has a key point of interest or feature wall, don’t forget to add one to your basement!

9. Follow Codes – 
Make sure you follow codes for your project.  They are there for your safety and could effect resale by an educated buyer.  If you add a bathroom, make sure everything is done to code compliance including exhaust fan, GFI outlet, and proper clearance around the toilet.  If you add a bedroom, it needs a closet and an egress window for fire code.  Don’t forget drywall under the steps if that is your only exit out of the basement, and proper electrical and plumbing code requirements throughout the basement.

10. Research the project – 
But we don’t need to tell you… because you are reading this!  Nice work, but don’t stop here, understand design options, code requirements, and cost effective products.

2.  Lights, Lights, Lights

Basements are typically limited with natural light, so add plenty of lights.  Fluorescent lights are great for a workshop, but we believe misplaced in a basement.  They still pop, flicker, buzz, and deliver harsh light to your space.  Use a LED bulb, but stay away from the long tubes…  We recommend a 6″ can light.  It is flush with the ceiling, and delivers smooth consistent lighting.  A good rule of thumb is that no one ceiling light is farther apart in any one direction than 10 feet (in an 8-foot ceiling), then you are guaranteed no shadows or dark spots.

3. Add angles - If at all possible, mix in a 45 degree, or split a hallway.  It adds interest, and makes the space look larger.  In other words, look beyond the square boxes of the foundation walls

4.  Drywall the ceilings

Nothing separates an amateur job vs. a professional job as much as the ceilings.  Ceiling manufacturing companies did a good job to scare homeowners into a drop ceiling saying, “what if you need access to the pipes”.  If you have a 2nd floor on your home and there is a bathroom upstairs, guess what?  The water lines for that are just above the (drywall) ceiling on the first floor.  If your home is newer, you will not have a problem with a drywall ceiling.  It is less expensive, more attractive, and will provide a higher finished ceiling height.  Drywall ceilings provides more options for can light location and does a better job controlling noise between the first and second floor.

5. Proper storage areas - Storage is important as a functional aspect of your home, and for resale vale.  Anytime you finish a basement, pockets of storage areas are created with some more obvious than others.  The utility (hot water and furnace) area is almost a given for quality storage, but some are harder to find.  Look for “oversized hallways”.  Not large enough for furniture, but too small for a room – perfect.  Look for “dead space” and areas that if used for storage would not upset the functionality of the room.  This is tricky, so we spend some time on possibilities.

6. Think ahead
Plan future uses for your basement.  Some make the mistake to build a space for toddlers, but realize in a few short years the space is not practical for teens and entertaining. A good design should accommodate both.

7. Limit DIY

Not speaking as a remodeling contractor, but as a general observer.  Construction is not difficult but requires the proper tools and experience. A medium sized basement project can rob you of 30 - 50 weekends of your life or MORE!  Big Box Stores and Saturday morning TV shows makes everyone believe they can complete the project themselves.  The fact is, a poorly constructed basement will DETRACT from your home value, not add to it.  If it is not something you do all day every day – time to hire the experts.  If it is a matter of your budget, our recommendation is that you carefully plan to complete phases of the project over time.  Smart design and cost saving tips will help with the budget and more importantly home value.