We are now ready to start placing walls into our blank canvas and commence developing the floor plan for the new Basement space.
Maximize Space on Exterior Walls
The exterior walls can be seen as a given or pre-defined. These are the walls that are covering up the foundation walls. It is best to keep these as far against the outside walls as possible as to maximize the usable floor space. Items that need to be considered are plumbing and water pipes, electrical wiring and the need for access panels.
One of the first interior walls that are generally placed is for the Utility Room. Hiding the utilities is priority. Remember to take into account the code requirements for service space in front of and around the units.
Stairwell walls; Open or Enclosed?
Next, establish the stairwell. Generally, you will need to decide a few things around the stairwell. One, will it be an enclosed or open staircase. Second, how will the space under the staircase be used? Will it be closet? Will there be shelving there? In any case, remember that most codes require the underside of the staircase to be drywalled.
After these few walls have been placed, stand back and take a look at the remaining space. My recommendation is to refrain from going wall happy. Too many walls (rooms) will restrict the use of the space and make it feel confining. Of course you need to accommodate certain spaces such as powder rooms and bathrooms, bedrooms and other private spaces, however, be careful not to chop up a nice open floor plan.
Kitchens and entertainment areas do not necessarily need interior walls. Playrooms and craft areas may need walls to accommodate closets and storage needs.
Perhaps one of the best investments at this stage would be a roll of masking tape. You can use the masking tape to layout the placement of interior walls and try to get a feel for how the walls will impact the space. Also another tool to help you plan your space is a good professional interior designer. If your builder does not employ or recommend someone, do your homework and find one to help with floor plan layout. If you are doing this project yourself, invest in an hour or two of designer time to bounce your ideas off of. This is the time to make adjustments and perhaps consider some things that you didn’t think of.
Remember, don’t give in to the tendency to chop up the floor plan with walls. Words like open, spacious and usable are music to your ears when describing the finished product.
Next Time… Planning Your Basement Space #5: Egress, Friend or Foe?
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