Basement Renovation #3 - Measuring and Planning

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Finishing a basement is never an easy process. But before we can even start, we have to decide where we want to finish.

Our basement isn't huge, so we're not going to be adding much in the way of walls or rooms. It will primarily be a large open area, with a small storage room, a bathroom (thankfully, rough plumbing is already in place) and a furnace room.

We're working on a long timeline - the image you see on the right is our aspiration for 2013 - getting the rigid foam insulation glued into place.

Plans after the jump.



Right now, the basement is nothing but concrete foundation walls, some windows, and wide open space. The ceilings are tall - 12 feet - but there are three steel poles holding up beams which support the house - and our ductwork is more often than not dropped below the rafters, which is going to require some *serious* soffiting.

Last fall, a good friend of mine (who is also an architect specializing in big Chicago restaurants & sports bars, and who has a few Wrigley rooftop renovations to his credit) - gave us his thoughts on the project. "Turn that soffiting into a feature. Use the lowest soffits as an overhead for the bar. It's still almost 8 feet tall."

From there, everything else fell into place. Over the course of the last weekend, my father-in-law and I measured out the basement, and created some blueprints and floorplans. Here's the first draft:


All told, the room is L-shaped, and it's 50 feet top-to-bottom, and 45 feet side-to-side, at the longest points.

The stairs and entrance are at the bottom of the plan. The two enclosures on this plan are the furnace room and the bathroom. It's likely that we'd add another enclosure at the bottom of this plan, to create additional storage and hide some unsightly plumbing and fixtures.

Ideally, we will "turn" the stairs - adding a landing, and making the entrance to the room a bit higher up in the plan. This would allow us to increase the size of the storage room, and would add some interest to the staircase.

The bar will go between the two poles, along the wall across from the bar tables. This is pretty far from the bathroom (and all plumbing), though - so it's not going to be a wet bar unless it's relocated to outside the bathroom.

The furnace room is as small as it can plausibly be - it contains our furnace, water heater, sump and so on. We're going to need to ensure a sufficient cold air intake for this room. The entrance door will be behind the bar.

The bathroom, as drawn up, is 7x7, which is the smallest permissible basement bathroom in our municipality. There's close to a 100% chance that my wife is going to want to see that room expanded somewhat. I'd prefer to draw it up as a small "commercial" style bathroom - all tile, with a urinal and a Dyson airblade hand dryer. But that's unlikely, right?

We have two odd little "bays" cut into the foundation - one of which will be perfect for a flatscreen TV. The other (by the pool table) will become a built-in shelf unit for components.

There's a long way to go - and even as a DIY project, this is going to get pricey. For now, however, my task is to smooth out the concrete burrs in the foundation with a hammer and chisel, so that we can glue some pink foam insulation into place.  The steps work as follows:

1. Foam insulation, glued to concrete exterior walls.

2. Frame out all walls with 2x4s. Build new interior walls. Build soffits.

3. Run electrical (and any additional plumbing) through the frame. Drop/raise ceiling fixtures to ensure conformity.

4. Fiberglass insulation between the 2x4s.

5. Drywall walls and ceiling.

6. Subfloor. Flooring.

For this spring, we're looking at Step 1. With the possibility of addressing some aspects of Step 2 as the year progresses. Unfortunately, we still have bigger projects remaining, with the home theater top on the list.

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