Feedback Wanted on Plans to Access Basement

FoggyMarieJuly 20, 2012

Hi, first time poster here. I have a basement family room that is never used because getting to it is a hassle. Right now, to get to the basement (and backyard) you go through a door at the back of the garage. This means to go from the kitchen/dining room to the basement (top level) or from the master you have to go through the laundry and around a parked car (see purple line in middle diagram).

We've met with an architect to look into getting stairs to access to this room without going through the garage. I'm attaching the preliminary plans. Originally we talked about putting stairs parallel to the far right wall, but this would cause us to significantly lose footage in the master. Recently it dawned on everyone that it didn't make sense to make a third set of stairs. The new plan is to push the master wall in 8" and create a hallway connecting one end of the house to the other (see last diagram). The garage stairs would be redone so they look more like inside stairs.

We'll lose the big walk-in closet, but with the auxiliary closets that will be added along the hallway we'll end up with more closet space then before. When it's just my husband and I, everything will be open so the hallway and auxiliary closets will seem like they are part of the master suite. When visitors come, we can close doors and maintain privacy as people move down the hall. Other ideas I'm throwing around are a dumbwaiter to send things downstairs (e.g., grilling supplies) and expanding the bathroom into the master bedroom so there could be two sinks instead of a single. Is the double vanity worth it?

In the basement room, there is currently a locked door (outlined in blue). We'd remove it so the stairs would flow into the room. Right by there (at the bottom of the to-be redone stairs) is a door to the backyard. I'd like a sliding door out the to patio from within the family room, which is doable. But it was suggested I keep the other door too so garden waste can be brought to the curb without trekking through the family room. Will it look strange to have a door, sliding door, and window all one half of the house - Maybe I should get rid of the window?

Sorry for making this so long. I guess mostly I'm looking for feedback to see if there is anything I am missing on why this might be a bad plan. We think this will help (or at least not harm) the resale value in the (far) future since it makes the basement accessible - in 6 months of living in the house, we've used the room less than a dozen times. But maybe we're wrong.

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Post on the Decor Forum and I think you'll get a lot of responses. They cover all topics of home ownership over there!

Here is a link that might be useful: Decor

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 6:59PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Check with your municipality as to whether or not the basement stairs will need to be rebuilt to the current code's rise/run standards or if it's grandfathered. I suspect that if you touch those stairs for any reason, you will have to bring them up to current code which will require a longer run than currently exists.

Is there more to the basement than just that single room? I'm trying to figure out what's so attractive about accessing a basement room in the first place.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 7:45PM
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I don't have any feedback for you but I'll be interested to watch this topic. We are considering buying a home that currently only has access to the basement through its own exterior door. There is no way to get downstairs from the main level. It was built this way to have the basement as an independent apartment that the owners rented, but we want to envelope that space into the house as added living space for our family. To do this we too would have to build an interior staircase where there currently is none. We'd have to cut a hole in the floor and start from scratch!

Anyway... I didn't mean to ramble, but to share that we are in the same boat, or a similar one anyway. I'll be interested to read the responses you get.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 12:13PM
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For Susan,
You should consider if you can build an exterior staircase (as in it would be located outside of your current footprint, but be enclosed/insulated). If you don't have the room, then essentially cantilevering a staircase might be the best option.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 12:25PM
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