Bruce Keats


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Basement Layouts



History of the House
Basement Layout 1
Basement Layout 2
Plumbing Layout



We are starting on the basement next.  Here are a couple of proposed layouts done by the boys at Spout Cove Ventures.  Most of the ideas are our own, but it is nice to see them sketched out on paper.

This is the third basement reno I have been through.  I did the first one in my own first home in Kanata (now part of Ottawa).  I worked on my sister's place in St. John's when I was there for a couple of weeks last summer.  Their project is complete now.

If you are working on your own basement reno then why don't you drop me a line.  I can try and share tips and ideas and I might be able to help you with your layout.

We going with the Basement Layout #6.  Keep watching this site and I will post pictures of the progress.

History of the House

The house itself is a ranch style bungalow.  It is not a big house, but the lot is fairly large (75x100) and is located in an older neighbourhood.  The house was constructed in the late 40's early 50's.  The sheetrock that I torn down in the ceiling had a stamp on it from Canadian Sheetrock (patented 1944).  The original wiring was probably redone at some point because the service was 100 Amp with fuses and 60 Amp breakered pony panel.  We replaced the whole shootin' match with a single 100 Amp breakered service panel when we did the kitchen.  The plumbing inspector from the city mentioned he probably worked on houses in the area.  He confirmed the age of house.  The drains are cast iron in slab with light weight copper connecting all the fixtures to the cast iron.  Most of the wiring is 2 conductor Loomex (braided cloth sheathing rather than plastic).

The floor uses a steel truss system rather than wooden floor joists.  This makes for a fairly open basement that does not contain jack posts.  The trusses are spaced 24 inches OC.  The roof is made from engineered wooden trusses spaced 24 incles OC.

The house was originally a 4 bedroom bungalow.  When my wife moved in back in the early 90's they combined two of the bedrooms into a large master bedroom.  It is not a very effective use of space.

A garage was added at some point, probably by enclosing the original car port.  Who ever did it, did a good job of matching the exterior brick.  Unless one knows what to look for, it is hard to tell it was an add on.  Some of the interior finishing details leave a lot to be desired.  When the garage door opens, the overhead lighting is blocked.  There are separate switches that control lights at different ends of the garage rather than and 3-ways that control the lights.  The ceiling drywall was installed without the use of strapping also called furring strips.  If you know anything about hanging drywall overhead you should realize drywall should be secured about every 12 inches on strapping.  They also used heavier 1/2" 4x8 sheets of drywall rather than the lighter 3/8" 4x12 sheets.  As a result, the drywall in the garage is falling down.  Lots of ear marks of a DIY job.

It looks there there have been several bad renovations of the past few years.  The kitchen was the scene of one ugly DYI nightmare.  The kitchen sink drain was moved and not vented properly.  Electrical circuits were terminated by leaving the wiring dangling behind drywall.  There was one god awful patterned ceramic tile that ran half way up the wall.  The cabinets were built on site from 3/4 inch ply - not a bad job if there were more of them!  Someone had tried to put a breakfast nook in and removed a bunch of cabinets by the looks of things.  They tried to add some more cabinets and a dishwasher, but it never worked.  After looking into it, we decided to just start from scratch.  We gutted the kitchen removing all the drywall, flooring, cabinets, wiring, plumbing, etc.  What you see on the kitchen page is the result of the kitchen reno.

Of course, once you start one project then you see several other things that you should do.  We planned on installing the same ceramic tile in the front and back entrances as we had in the kitchen.  We quickly realized that the entrance doors sucked because they did not let enough light in.  Before the tile were laid we replaced both the front and back doors.  This is not a job I would recommend for the DIY unless you know what you are doing.  The tear out went pretty easy.  We removed the exterior brick moulding and interior casings and used a recip saw to cut the spikes holding the door in place.  This went pretty quickly.  We found that the house had settled unevenly and that the old rough opening was no longer level or square.   What followed was an all day nightmare of shimming and screwing.  If I had to do it again, I would use a quick drying mortar mix and put down a new 2x4 sill to make a level door sill.  The new doors were considerably smaller than the old doors, so we had to fill in some of the old rough opening.  This also created a bit of a challenge filling the space between the interior/exterior finishing detail and the new door.  To complicate matters even further, we could not find any interior mouldings and casings to match the existing ones.  After contacting a couple of local mills, we decided that the cost for having new moulding made vs replacing was not that great.  We kinda liked the wider moulding anyway.  The moral of the story is that one job leads to another.

The basement looks like it probably part of the original house or if not, it was professionally done.  No major complaints here except the drywall is in need of repair and the layout sucks for what we want to use it for.  The tub in the main bathroom had leaked for many years and the drywall underneath that area is rotting and in need of repair.  I found the source of the leak to be the tub overflow.   The plumber who installed the main bathtub was off by a couple of millimetres, so the overflow never mated with the tub securely enough to seal it.  We also need to tear into the ceiling to run new plumbing and electrical.  After looking into the cost of repairing vs redoing it from scratch, we decided there was not a huge difference in cost.  We are replacing the drywall with a suspended ceiling (T-bar).  The original rooms represent someone else's needs and not our own.

Here is the existing basement layout:

The problem with the layout is that the storage areas don't work.  They are not the right shape and the doors do not allow proper access.  The doors installed in the storage area and closest are standard interior doors rather than closet doors.  This makes it hard to access long skinny storage rooms.  The laundry room itself is too large for what we need.  The existing exercise room is too small for the amount of equipment we have.

After looking at the existing space utilization the basement, we decided to start from scratch.

Basement Layout #1

The advantage of this layout is that the exercise room can be converted into another bedroom, but the bathroom does not get any natural light.

Basement Layout #2

The advantage of this layout is that the bathroom gets lots of natural light.  The disadvantage of this layout is that the exercise room cannot function as a bedroom.  This layout does not offer a means of escape in case of a fire as the window exits into the garage.

The problem with this layout is that the bathroom fixtures are too far away from the main plumbing.  Plumbers have to worry about the altitude and distances from the main plumbing because the slot has to be 1/4 inch per foot.  The furthest fixture (toilet) is would put the pipe out of the concrete.

Basement Layout #3

After careful planning, we decided that we wanted a smaller exercise room and to have a completely separate spare room.  Here is this layout.

This is a good design, but as with layout #2, the plumbing is too far away from the main house plumbing.

Basement Layout #4

After careful planning, we decided that we wanted a smaller exercise room and to have a completely separate spare room.  Here is this layout.

This is a good design, but as with layout #2 and layout #3, the plumbing is still too far away from the main house plumbing.

Basement Layout #5

After careful planning, we decided that we wanted a smaller exercise room and to have a completely separate spare room.  Here is this layout.

This design gives us a pretty good layout.  The plumbing is close enough to the main plumbing for this design to work, however the shower is too close to the main DWV line for this to work.

Basement Layout #6

This is the retooled version of the layout from about that moves things around.

Plumbing layout

Here is a quick rough view of the plumbing for the bathroom.  Detailed plumbing view will be added later.

The 2" and 3" branch waste drains off the 4" main building drain in the bathroom area are new.  The 1 1/2 wet bar drain runs in the wall and connects to the 2" drain which acts as a wet vent for the shower.

All vents connect to the main building vent in the attic.  All vents are planned to run vertical in the stud wall of the bathroom.  Since there is 18 inches between the stud wall header and the floor, there is enough space to connect all the vents together and run a 2" vent to connect to the main building stack vent in the attic.


For more details on the construction of the building of this project, click here.

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This site was last updated 06/08/03