Home Design your Basement with Basements by Ballantyne

Basement Design

Let's start at the beginning.

By definition a basement, in general, is a large room or number of rooms in the lower portion of a building, completely or partly below the ground level.Basements are common in colder climates where in warmer climates the building can be built on a concrete pad known as "Slab on grade".

Basements are the foundation walls set upon footings in which the upper portions of the structure are built. The floor is normally poured concrete at roughly 3"-4" in thickness.Seldom is ther any insulation or radiant heating below the concrete, just stone gravel for water drainage. In days gone by the use for the basement was primarily for the mechanical fuctions of the house. Still today builders rarely are considerate in the placement of mechanical elements such as plumbing, HVAC, and electrical compontents as they relate to creating an inviting, alternative living space in your basement.


A design can be, should be, a sketch, drawing or plan in 2D or 3D, which brings your basement to life in a concept that is relateable to professionals as well as the average homeowner.
When most people think of an addition to their home, they think about adding on to the existing structure. What many seem to forget is that their "addition," already 30% completed, is literally right under their noses – in the basement.
Professionally finished basements are equity builders, they speak for themselves. Unprofessionally finished basements built by "Handy" people are a deterrent to prospective home buyers and the quality or lack thereof, cannot be hidden.
No matter what you are building, it should start with a plan, with all specifications detailed as much as possible. In order to have a proper start and a perfect finish to our project, you must determine what your needs are today and in the future. If you cannot do this yourself, you should consult an designer, like myself, who could charge a fee, depending on the size of the space and whether you have us build it. Ideally, you need someone capable to draw and design your basement. A designer that specializes in this field can do a great job. You can expect to pay $400.00 and up.
In your planning it is best to view the unfinished basement as an empty canvas and be able to freely create anything new in addition to your basic living needs.
A well thought out design will create an enjoyable space for years to come. It is prudent to evaluate your needs for now as well as the future. Consider small children who are going to remain in the home for an extended period of time as their needs may change accordingly. Could this space provide accommodation for family in need of care?
To make the basement a successful extension of your home, you will need to have some concept of where you will be going with this.
There are a couple of approaches that work well. The least inexpensive is to use 1/4” square graph paper to create our drawing using the 1/4” = 1 ft.

In a proper scenario, the designer/architect will sit down and discuss your needs. Once they have gathered all the information, then they can start the concept drawing process. If you bypass this first step, you may end up with regrets or doing a portion over again, very costly.

Depending on the size of the basement, the designer may use different scales. The most common scale is 1/4" per foot. Take your time when examining your drawings of the proposed basement layout. Let the designer explain the layout and why they have positioned things where they have. A drawing of value should include all walls, built-in furniture, and furniture such as sofas, chairs plumbing fixtures, all of which will be drawn to scale. We want to know that the furniture fits and that we can walk around the pool table. Is the entrance to the storage obstructed by furniture.

Consider the placement of areas with regards to what is on the first floor. You do not want a bedroom below the kitchen, or the home theatre area near the stairs. Most plans are open concept, so try to locate the bathroom in a place that is accessible but private.

Your plans or estimate should come with access to details of materials used. For example, it should include the model and make of the toilet. There is a great selection and difference of quality in all of the materials going into the project. Without such detail, you cannot compare plans/estimates from more than one source fairly. Now review the drawings and size them up for a while. It is very easy to make changes on paper. It is a lot harder once the walls are up. Then contact your designer within a week when both parties are fresh regarding the drawings and make a detailed list of any changes you want, including items you would like to add. Should you require professional contracting services, give a 15% deposit to secure a start date. Otherwise you may find yourself waiting.

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