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Basement Design With Chief Architect's Home Designer

Be sure to watch the "Home Designer Tutorial" video immediately after reading this article.

If you have never used any kind of CAD software before, then you're in for a treat.  Chief Architect's Home Designer products are excellent tools to use for basement design.  You should know however, that this product will do many more things.  If you have other home remodeling projects in mind such as a deck, kitchen, or bath, the software you purchased to design your basement can just as effectively help you with those projects too.

First, some background

I thought is would be a good idea to work with an actual basement design, rather than some hypothetical one I dreamed up.  The design I will walk you through is typical of many basements.  I'll create a media area, a play area for the owner's children, a cabinet/bar area which incorporates a full size refrigerator already owned, some storage and a workshop.

The basement project was started by the previous homeowner and left in an unfinished state. Judging from the pictures, I would elect to demolish everything, throw it into a dumpster and start from scratch with a clean slate.

Figure 1 is the current floorplan - drawing supplied by the homeowner.

Figure 2 is sort of a proposed plan - drawing supplied by the homeowner.

The poles that support the 1st floor area are a major source of trouble in that their placement made it difficult for the owners to "see" solutions toward a design

Coming up with ideas

My first thought concerned the utility room.  Was it possible to "lose" the bottom "L" portion where the door is shown and just have a straight wall with doors for ease of access to the utilities.

Second, of the main space, the "leg" section of the basement, where the workshop is located, just how big does the workshop actually need to be and how much storage does the owner have to have?

I also wasn't satisfied with the way the laundry room was set up and wondered if I could improve upon it.

With those questions answered via my client, I started my design.

Photos of the existing space

This photo shows the utility room.  Two sets of two double doors will allow for plenty of access to the mechanicals as well as maintaining a large finished space.

Previous owner's basement kitchen.

Walkout door - always nice to have.

Laundry room

New finished floor plan

Your Canvas

When you read the other basement articles on estimating and ordering materials, you'll see how everything comes together.  This is the exact process I go through for every basement I design.  If you haven't yet read the first chapter in the Basement Ideas publication, be it on CD, download or print, do that now.  The material presented there tells you how to measure up the space so you can create a design that accurately reflects the existing boundaries you have to work with.  This will be your "canvas."

Once you have a rough drawing, which is really a mapping of "fixed positions" of things, its time to actually start using the Chief Architect software.  The "Home Designer Tutorial" video in the video section of the website shows you the Home Designer interface, how it functions, and how to get started creating a design.  Enjoy!

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