6 Steps to complete the detailed design for your finished basement. Have you been imagining yourself down in the basement hanging out in your new theater room? Maybe shooting pool while your kids are playing Nintendo Wii?
Or maybe you've been browsing through tons of glossy home design magazines. Perhaps you can't stop thinking about how nice it would be to have a spot next to the basement door for hanging wet snow gear after being outside.
It's time to design your basement!
From Ideas to Designs
It doesn't matter whether you plan to finish the basement yourself or have a contractor handle some or all of the work. You should put your ideas down on paper. You will need a detailed basement design. You may think that you've thought of everything and can describe it verbally to your contractor but there's probably another 50% of decisions yet to be made.
Here is a snapshot of my basement design with furniture layout . To zoom in to the detail open the PDF version of the finished basement design. Click here for the PDF of the detailed finished basement design with electrical.
6 Steps to Designing Your Finished Basement
Step 1 Measure the existing basement walls. You can do this yourself in about 30 minutes with a standard tape measure. I ended up measuring three separate times because when I brought the fist set of measurements back to the Visio drawing they didn’t add up correctly.
Step 2 Draw your walls. This is the fun part. You are actually designing the layout of your basement, have fun with it. It takes some time to get the hang of using the Visio wall pieces but you absolutely should use them instead of the regular lines. (see below)
Step 3 Doors and other breaks in the framing. Oh yeah, now you're tapping into your inner Mr. Brady (he was an architect, remember?). I hope you took my advice from step 2 and used the visio wall parts because now you can easily use the Visio door parts. They are preset to the standard door widths, they easily hook into the wall parts and they have the option to set whether the door opens to the right or the left.
Step 4 Electrical outlets and switches. You guessed it, Visio has electrical parts. You can add light switches (dimmable and regular), recessed lights, outlets galore and you can show which switch should control which lights by using the colored lines to represent your electrical circuits. (if you're not doing the electrical yourself, you do not need to design or show the circuits but you still should layout the outlets and lighting)
Step 5 Plumbing fixtures. The wet bar, sink, toilet, shower, sauna, lap pool, big shark tank, whatever you want. You're the boss and the sky is the limit.
Step 6 Audio visual nirvana! Cable jacks, speaker locations, etc. You can even design in cool things like an outlet on the ceiling where your future HD projector might go. Maybe some PVC tubing hidden in the ceiling so you can easily run wiring in the future. Or maybe a dedicated electrical circuit or closet to keep all of your audio visual stuff on a single clean line. I'm working on an entire post dedicated just to this step.
Basement Design Software
There are quite a few products on the market that you can buy to design your basement but only two seem to get any decent reviews online.
Microsoft Visio - In my case I used Microsoft Visio. You can set Visio to use an exact scale so that the lumber lengths and room dimensions of your design are precise.
I didn't use this feature at first, I just drew some approximate lines, but fairly soon I really needed to know if the ping-pong table was going to fit and where would the foosball table should go, so I started using exact dimensions.
I had a copy through work but it's quite expensive otherwise at around $250. Buy it on Amazon.
Home Designer Essentials - A bit less expensive, only $59.99. I haven't used this personally but I did some research and watched there product videos and it seems to have everything you would need and then some. It even has 3D view, furniture placement and some other cool designer features that Visio doesn't have.
If you're just doing the basement design, the "Essentials" package is all you should need. Buy it on Amazon.
You might be thinking, just give me the standard layout. Or, I'll let the contractor decide where these go. Don't do it! The framing, electrical, A/V are all intertwined, one affects the other.
Go through this design phase in detail and you'll know exactly what you want. I did my design as a I was learning how to build my first wall. You don't have to finish all of the design before starting some of your framing. Get started today!
Do you have an awesome basement design? Please share with us. Is there an important step or great tips that I've missed? Let me know!