Two weeks ago I called on a soon to be family member who happens to be an electrician and another person who was referred tom me as the brother of an acquaintance who was a plumber. Both came to look at the scope of my plan and give me an estimate on the work I need to have done.

Joe the electrician was the first to come over and was a super help. He was willing to come over and even give suggestions on what he would do for the layout, and place me back to reality when it comes to really how many lights I actually needed in the plan. It actually gave me great confidence that I can get this basement done! I did find out that I will need a sub panel, which I already had thought I would need, but also found out he was more than willing to do the job and let me help, with putting in boxes and pulling the wire.

On to our plumber John, he also came over the same week as did Joe and looked at our planed layout and we hit a few snags. It ends up that our bathroom was not in the most ideal location. It was too close to the main drain stack, and to tie into the stack under the concrete we need to be 40″ from the vertical  drain pipe which ends-up being right under the furnace. Also, the water lines would need to be pulled from the center of the basement to maintain pressure requirements by code. In the end, the full bath was a bit too much for where I had it, and without re doing the whole plan I decided to make some plan adjustments. The adjustments are as follows. Move the bathroom to the middle of the plan where I had the cove for the refrigerator and full freezer. This also means no more shower, which after touring many homes, I realized may be a bit much for our needs. This then means I moved the fridge and freezer to where the bath was making it a closet of sorts.

With all of this moving around rooms it was sure nice to have the tape on the floors so that my contractors and I could visualize the design and changes needed. it also made the moving of rooms much easier. I also learned that sometimes the thing you thing will be difficult will be easy and the things you think will be easy are harder than you thought. It pays to be flexible and to be prepared.

Taping a layout

plan pencil

In every good plan, there is someone that does not see it conceptually, so in this case I decided to tape out the floor plan for my wife to actually see what the basement plan looks like. This is not without some work and time involved though. My friend Dan used the blue painters tape to show where his walls would be in his basement, and I decided that would be a great way for me to do it also. However, he did not have a 2 year old rummaging the basement, so I decided to use a green painters tape. What’s the difference you ask? Adhesiveness. I just opted for a tape that had an eight-day removable adhesive instead of the blue stuff which had a 30-60 day removable adhesive. I ended up paying a bit less too which in a time of plan exploratration made sense to me. I bought three rolls of the tape which at 200-plus feet gave me some slack to reposition thing if I didn’t like what I saw or something was not square.

tape walls

Where to start
With my computer drawn plans at my side, I started the plan along an outside wall an assumed it was for the most part level and straight. Since the run was long, I snapped a chalk line the length of the wall and then taped. Since all my walls will be built using 2×4 lumber I measured from the wall 3-1/2″ (actual width of a 2×4 is 3-1/2″ x 1-1/2″) and snapped the chalk line 3-1/2 away from the wall indicating the outside of the footer of the wall. After this wall was taped. I used it as a reference for most other walls. For inside walls that are not along an outside walls, I used a framing square to make 90 degree angles in hopes I would have close to square walls.

Walls that are parallel to but not outside walls were measured in three spots (beginning, middle and end) equidistant from the outside wall. This gave me a start and end point for a chalk line and check point to ensure the wall was indeed straight.


When I had unique features like bump outs without room to reference off an outside wall, I used my inexpensive Laser line to make a line for me. It really makes things easier by keeping the walls straight and level. It is also very helpful in lining two walls up if there is a large gap in between them like where I have a recessed wall with two bump-outs for a buffet.

In all, take your time and make sure you do this process accurately. The more accurate you are, the more you can visualize the layout and in the end, it should come out as you always imagined. In all cases, measure several times in several areas. This should get you straight walls and a square beginning.

As always, please feel free to ask any questions, or add to what I have here. I am knee deep in the design and build of our basement, so please come back to see the process.

We are still in the process of cleaning the basement, but have gone a long way. I should mention that my wife is really the one cleaning. In all, there is some more to do but soon I think I will be taping where the walls should be and then ordering the lumber to start the build stage.

A Brief Update

No, I have not forgotten about this site, actually, we are still in the process of cleaning the basement and organizing things so they all fit in neatly shaped piles on shelves. Now that the summer is upon us also, I think things may slow a bit too, except on a rainy day. We did notice though that we need a bit more storage room, so the location where the fridge and freezer are will be moved across the room and a mini wall will need to be built. Below you should be able to see the changes in red.


Some 3D Views

Last night I stayed up a little while and rendered some 3D views for you so see. These are in a wire frame style, but I think they get the point across as to what I am trying to do. Enjoy the views, and I will update some in color and hope to have some updates on the bathroom idea.

Family room looking from the stairs back to the bathroom.

Family room looking from the stairs back to the bathroom.

Family room looking at the stairs and buffet/wet bar in the back of the room.

Family room looking at the stairs and buffet/wet bar in the back of the room.

Family room looking into the bathroom.

Family room looking into the bathroom.

Office as viewed from the stairs, looking back into the workout area near the back of the plan.

Office as viewed from the stairs, looking back into the workout area near the back of the plan.


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