Home basements aren’t just for mechanical rooms, playrooms or hanging salami. Elevating underground space to a desirable living area could open a home to new opportunities for design.
Local realtor and Registered Tarion home builder, Paul Corsi shares how getting creative with your home search and thinking abstractly about home layout can add more square footage where it matters, changing the look and feel of your living space.
Ten years ago, I built a custom, architecturally designed, 2000 square foot, in-slab heating, one-bedroom home. It was one of the most beautiful homes I’d ever been a part of. The room sizes were generous, there was a butler’s pantry off the kitchen, and a master bedroom and ensuite bathroom unlike anything I’d ever seen. The home came with 4 bedrooms on the lower level but everyone was focused on that one bedroom on the main floor. What were the homeowners thinking?
They were thinking of themselves! If the homeowners had followed the traditional blueprint of new home construction, they would have built a three-bedroom bungalow and sacrificed all the components that made that floor specific plan unique - what a shame it would have been.
Many moons ago, when new home construction wasn’t as sophisticated, basements were typically uninsulated and likely contained a furnace in the centre of the room with duct runs reaching out to the underside of various rooms of the floor above, they look something like an octopus. No way anyone was sleeping down there.
As HVAC systems evolved, there was more design and planning around the location of the furnace to optimize space, but the basements remained cold and damp due to the lack of insulation. There would be room for a bedroom however, it wouldn’t a very comfortable space.
In 2017, the Ontario Building code was revised and as a result, new homes were required to be built more energy-efficient and this was achieved primarily by increasing the thermal resistance of the building envelope. Today, newer home basements are warmer, dryer and overall more comfortable than their predecessors.
A large number of new homes that are produced every year will include the classic 3 bedroom bungalow which is typically comprised of approximately 1600 square foot, 3 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms and an additional bedroom downstairs. The main floor living space will be adequate and the lower level will be more than spacious. Speaking from my experience, if you relocated one of the bedrooms from the main floor to the lower level, the extra square footage that you gain on the main floor will dramatically change the look and feel of the house plan for the better. That extra square footage could make room for a larger ensuite, an office, a completely different and better kitchen layout just to name a few.
So, if we can increase and improve the space in our most lived-in rooms in the house by making this simple change, then why don’t we? Stigma. Likely from years of people viewing basements as dark and dingy when we know today that that’s not the case. Some argue they can’t have their children on another level because it’s unsettling. Baby monitors and cameras allow you to watch and listen to your child right from your bedside table - problem solved.
The next time you’re shopping for a new bungalow and you don’t have a substantial reason to refine your search criteria to strictly 3 bedrooms, open yourself to the idea of only 2 bedrooms on the main floor. If the square footage is similar, you’ll notice the difference as soon as you walk through the front door and who knows, you just might find yourself writing an offer.
Paul Corsi has over 20 years of custom home building experience, is a Registered Tarion Home Builder, Certified Engineering Technologist (C.E.T.) and is the Broker of Record with Corsi Realty in Sudbury. For more information visit, corsirealty.ca or email Paul directly at [email protected].