After the first draft of plans for the basement — almost a full calendar year ago — we had a decent idea how we wanted things to look, but knew that we needed to take a few more cuts at the overall floorplan before getting started. (This is the second of two posts in a series. Read the first post here.)
The first take on the plans were a good start, but Rachel was convinced that there was a better possibility out there. Even though there were a few constraining factors limiting things: a laundry room at the bottom of the stairs, the bathroom having to stay in the southwest corner (top right in above photo), and the large mechanical area for the boiler, hot water and A/C in the bottom middle of the photo above.
So we had Kurt, our architect pal and contractor take a few attempts at a few other possibilities.
First up was trying to put the kitchen in the old garage — my preferred plan.
This created a nice space for the laundry with lots of storage. It also resulted in a bedroom that was still separate from the kitchen/living space, and a nice big closet up against the stairs. Though no real single big living room. There’s some in the kitchen space and some with the bedroom. We actually went through a handful of other iterations that definitely didn’t work to get to this version. The only real two possibilities overall were 1) putting the kitchen in the space to the left above, or 2) putting it in the old garage.
Kurt came out for a site visit after getting this version on paper, and we decided that the kitchen couldn’t go in the garage. The garage is actually a step down from the rest of the space to the garage, and we needed to put in a drain for the sink and dishwasher. Not knowing where the drain was under the old concrete floor meant a big risk planning to have the sink below the rest of the floor level considering that it needed to be gravity-fed to the master drain for the house.
It would’ve looked pretty good. (Thanks, IKEA kitchen planner!)
Our friends two doors down with the same exact rowhouse floorplan did their basement this way, save for the kitchen being at the right of this snapshot above (away from the old garage doors) compared to ours. though honestly, we ended up with more light in the apartment (more windows) and more cabinet space with the way we ended up doing it.
In hindsight, this would have totally been possible after we broke up the concrete floor and discovered that the drain actually goes out the back (right in the plans above) of the house, so it would have been easy to keep the kitchen drain going downhill to the master drain for the house, but in the end, I think it’s actually much better that we put the kitchen where we did.
With the kibosh placed on the garage kitchen, though, the only other possibility was to put the kitchen somewhere in the larger space. Knowing that the tiny laundry room resulting from the eastern (left below) kitchen wasn’t a possibility, that ended the idea of putting the kitchen all the way to the east, which really only left the possibility of putting the bedroom there and kitchen in the middle of the space.
The first take on that idea looked something like this:
Except in this version the kitchen didn’t have room for any dishwasher at all and only a tiny 24″ range (most are 30″). But we were getting close. This was the way to go, we thought, we just needed to fine-tune a few things to make it work and have full-size appliances.
There’s a bedroom all on its own with a door that closes, a kitchen separate from the bedroom, and a decently-sized living room.
One thing you’ll notice from here on out is that the bathroom never changed in any of the following versions. No tub, angle in the wall provides space for the electrical panel on the wall right by the back door, and a nook for storage next to the shower.
We made some notes for Kurt to make the kitchen bigger, add space to the bedroom, and slim down the mechanical area (much more on that in an upcoming post.)
Tiny changes on this version. A full-sized stove is added, room for a dishwasher, smaller mechanical area, but less space for laundry
You might notice that we’re adding a window (in the bottom left of the plans above) and that we’re moving the door connecting the kitchen to the garage/living room from the east side of the wall to the south. That added more usable floor and wall space in the kitchen. And there’s still a closet in the bedroom.
There’s a beam supporting all the above floor joists that runs from the front of the space to the corner of the garage; sitting right on the corner where we were proposing to close up the old garage entry and crack a new opening in the brick. Once we realized that we’d be disturbing the bricks holding up the beam, we decided to leave the opening from the kitchen to garage/living room as is.
We took out the closet in the bedroom — it was a tiny bedroom as is and we traded off closet space for not feeling quite so cramped — and ultimately took out that radiator in the bedroom and gave that space back to the laundry room. (We realized along the way that our boiler is gravity-fed, and no radiator below the level of the boiler is going to get any hot water at all. So no radiators in the basement equals more available floor space.
Here are the final plans (sans a zillion notes) on the day we started construction.
We made a few changes to this version. I should take a picture of the giant printed version we stuck on the wall and then modified with all the notes. But the basics are all here.
It took about six months for us to go from first (second, really) version of the plans to the start of construction with all subcontractors and bids approved. A lot of that was due to us dragging our heels on making changes to plans and then some delays that were out of our hands, but around the first week of August, we started breaking up the concrete floor to move plumbing around after I did all the demo in July.
Once underway, were faced with our decision about digging out the basement floor.
In any case, this mammoth project was underway. And yet here we are, four months later and we’re still not finished — though that’s mostly on me at this point as I paint and install trim and do all the millions of tiny things that make up that last 5 percent of the work.
But by the end of August, we had the plans, we had the subcontractors, we’d broken up the concrete and dug out the floor, and poured new concrete.
The basement was on its way to becoming an apartment.