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home reno: basement plans

November 20, 2008

zora naki

basement plans

At long last, the plans for the reno are finished (fingers crossed). I’m just starting to meet with contractors to get quotes on doing the work (fingers crossed). These are the plans for the basement – currently an uninsulated concrete shell filled with boxes of our belongings.

We are dividing the space (approx 1000 square feet) into a shared bedroom for the boys (14 x 18 feet), add a bedroom for my daughter, a bathroom, a laundry/mud room and an office (we both work from home and our corporate headquarters has been squatting in our dining room for the last three years).

Because we are trying to turn a basement-level space into a habitable, light-filled expanse of pleasurable living, I’ve tried to plan accordingly. If we go ahead and raise the house, then we’ll have 9-foot ceilings when all is said and done. We are limited in the windows we can add, due to by-laws about set-backs and things, so we are sacrificing windows in the (existing) laundry room and the stairwell in order to add/enlarge windows elsewhere.

I’ve used pocket doors for most of the rooms to make it more seamless, and the two doors at opposite ends of the hallway (to office and to boys’ bedroom) are pocket doors with a glass insert, to light the hallway from both ends.

I was unable to resolve my stair issues in any way other than sacrificing a room on the main floor. The existing stairs are narrow rickety and steep stairs that run down from the kitchen. We’ve ended up planning to use the existing kids’ room on the main floor as the stairwell. The advantage of this is that the stairwell becomes a central spine to the house, promoting “flow” (which the architect tells me is very important).

Most of the windows will still be in wells, which isn’t my preferred thing, but our basement is set rather low into the ground. We have gotten rid of a few – there will be a window added for the bathroom that won’t have one. Also, the window in the office that faces the backyard has already been broken once by kids playing and the well is currently covered with plywood (to prevent small people from being swallowed up by it), so i’m getting rid of that one.

We have these massive wood posts in the basement, and we’re planning to reuse them – extend concrete footings upwards, saddle bolt the posts to the concrete and then feature the wood as part of the wall. Ditto for the chimney in the office.

There are a lot of decisions yet to be made about the mechanicals (especially heating) and the finishes (cost), but we’re getting closer!

The one advantage to the current economic climate is that contractors seem to be more available in these parts – the timeline for availability has shrunk to about 3 months now. Of course, then we’ll have to actually move most of our belongings out of the house (and find somewhere to live while the work is being done). But i’ll worry about that later…

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One Comment

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  1. ourfriendben #
    November 20, 2008

    Wow, Zora, I’m so jealous! I’ve always wanted a basement with all kinds of great spaces, including a huge pantry, root cellar, etc. But my little cottage is right on a creek so it’s out of the question. (Sob.) Yours looks like it’s going to be fantastic!!!

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