Basement Design and Planning


After scouring over multiple websites for basement ideas, it was time for me to plan my basement design.  This is an important step in basement finishing, one which you should take a lot of time with.  The first thing to do is measure your basement area and then draw out your basement walls on a piece of graph paper.  Toy around with different layouts and see what you like and don’t like. I started with my bathroom as the focal point, as it was already roughed in and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of breaking up concrete to move it.

I would recommend making a master sheet, one which you can always go back to and trace or start over from.  This was you can work with several different basement layouts at a time, and trust me, you will want to explore different layouts for your new finished basement.  You want it done right the first time, so take the time to go over all the layout options available, then create a final layout.

Here’s an example of the initial basement layout I created:

Tony's Basement Design and Layout Plan

Tony’s Basement Design and Layout Plan

This layout was approved by my city building division and you can see their notes in red. My final layout actually ends up being quite different than the one you see here, but hopefully you can see what needs to be included. The city required that I include:

1) Square footage and measurements
2) All finished spaces and doors marked
3) Electrical
– For wiring, you can see I highlighted lighting, switches, data, and speaker wires

I wasn’t aware that square footage and measurements had to be written in, so you can see where I sat down in my city building office and marked out the square footage with a blue pen.

The take away here is that it doesn’t need to be a perfect drawing created by expensive software, just do your best to layout your plans and be sure to include all the required information your local building division needs.


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  1. ccleme11 says:

    Hi Tony, what program did you use to design the basement layout?

    1. Tony says:

      This is embarrassing but I can’t remember for the life of me what software I used. In hindsight, using software was overkill and I would actually recommend using a pencil and paper. The essentials in your layout are square footage, walls, doors, and finished/unfinished space. Most of the time that should be enough to get you a permit.

      If I could do it again I would just grab a pen and paper and sketch away. The time I spent learning the software wasn’t worth it either. Best of luck and let me know if you have any other questions!


  2. Kathy says:

    I may be buying a house with an unfinished basement and can do some elements of it myself, but putting up the framing and walls will get done by a contractor. I am thinking that an architect would be a good source for designs since he or she would know the local building codes. I want to do this right. What should I look for in an architect?

    1. Tony says:

      Hey Kathy, good question. I’m no expert in architecture, so my first recommendation would be to look for an architect that shares your design vision!

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