Basement Layout Ideas

I’ve spent the last few days (well, longer than that, really) pondering what the exact layout will be for the basement. So here is what it was when I first bought the house:

You can see some pictures of it in this post

The old kitchen cabinets, including the old sink, was moved into the laundry room at some point, in addition to the laundry sink already there. Behind the cabinet, a few inches away from the wall, is the main waste water pipe for the house.

Beside the stairs there is a central vacuum unit (marked CV). The fuse panel (ELEC) is on the wall behind that, and between the two (not shown) is a vent that comes down and goes under the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, there is another vent that comes down and was boxed in by wood paneling (That is shown).

The water heater is offset from the furnace because the furnace filter access is on that side, and if the water heater is right beside the furnace the filter doesn’t come out (apparently it was installed that way initially, and then later the hot water tank was moved). In the middle of the basement is a support post.

I should also point out that there are two ducts running down the middle of the basement (about 6.5′ high) from post, to about 1′ from the bottom of the stairs. Because of the post and low ceiling, I didn’t really think the middle area would be useful to be part of the rec room, so that is why in all designs it is part of the laundry room.

So far I have taken down the all the paneling, the wall and all the cabinets that were in the center of the basement, and moved the duct that comes down at the bottom of the stairs.

My objectives for the basement are to have a laundry room, and a rec room area that I can put my desk in and use as an office, and also put a couch and TV in to use as a place to watch movies/TV. So my first design:

In this (and all designs), I am adding 2″ of rigid foam insulation around the whole basement, and then a 2×4 insulated frame on top of that. This means redoing most of the laundry room plumbing to bring it out from the wall, so moving things around is not a big deal. It also means moving the fuse panel for the same reason, which I don’t mind since I wanted to upgrade it to a breaker panel anyways, and add several new circuits for the basement.

I got thinking about it, and started wondering if I could add a bathroom. The house only has a single bathroom (3 bedrooms) so a second half bath could be quite appealing. I came up with a couple of designs, but I don’t know which I like better yet:

The first design moves the central vac from beside the stairs to beside the electrical panel. This shouldn’t be a big deal, and I was going to cut into the central vac lines anyways to add another outlet downstairs.

The second design involves moving the electrical panel about 8′ into the laundry room. I still need to check if this passes building code, and also what exactly I am allowed to do with the mains wiring (eg, do I need to get Hydro to come in and run new mains wires from the meter?). It would of course get boxed in.

Both designs also show an on-demand tankless hot water heater (which can be mounted on the wall, out of the way of the furnace filter door). This lets me move the wall about 2′ closer to the furnace, but I haven’t decided if it makes sense to switch to the on-demand heater yet, due to the high cost (I’m guessing ~$1200-$1500 installed). I probably wouldn’t see the energy savings but I may recoup the costs when I sell the house anyways – maybe tankless systems will be in high demand in 5 years. They’re certainly going in almost every house I’ve seen that was built in the last year or so.

In both designs, the toilet is also relatively close to the main waste line, which means minimal cutting into the concrete to run the waste line. There is also a vent line next to the waste line, which hopefully I can use for the bathroom as well (still need to check code on that).

So I’d love to hear feedback on which design is better (or if anyone has any other ideas).