Lower Level Receives Top-Shelf Craftmanship

When a home is built on a steep hill, getting materials from the front of the house into a walk-out basement can be a challenge. Before even starting this project, Custom Basements Inc. had to extend the deck and build a stairway up to the driveway.

August 31, 2003

 

For Troy Spencer, a basement's framing sets the tone for its look and functionality. His company frames from the center of the room outward, ensuring a symmetrical space between the studs. This gives subcontractors a frame spot to install their equipment and also makes it easier if homeowners want to add features later. "Some people just frame below the obstacles, thinking they are what they are," Spencer says. "But we always try to move those obstacles to gain space, even if it's only a few inches, and when we frame below, we put great effort into notching out around them to gain as much height as we can." In this project, he also refused to do a drop or acoustical ceiling, and he incorporated a trim package that complemented the one upstairs. "Skimping on trim is a no-no," Spencer says, "because it's the trim that makes a job really nice."

When a home is built on a steep hill, getting materials from the front of the house into a walk-out basement can be a challenge. Before even starting this project, Custom Basements Inc. had to extend the deck and build a stairway up to the driveway.

After the company found a suitable spot for an elevator shaft (which runs up four floors, all the way to the attic), the home's 3-foot-wide staircase to the basement was widened and opened up with a handrail and extended treads. To accommodate the immovable ductwork (water pipes, gas lines, drainpipes, cooktop downdraft) under some of the beams, Custom Basements president Troy Spencer created a tray ceiling and rerouted the ductwork so it went around to the end of one beam. He then reran some joists and added two other nonsupporting beams for an architectural effect.

The space also has a unique architectural detail in its hidden bookcase, which provides entry into the generous crawl space underneath the basement. The feature provides attractive storage space while retaining the crawl space's secrecy. It also allows access, as the crawl space wall houses the basement's two heating and air-conditioning temperature controls (one for the mother-in-law suite and one for the rest of the basement).

The elevator addition and deck extension took one month, and it took four months to finish the 1,900-square-foot basement. The project cost $150,000 ($65,000 for the elevator and deck extension, $85,000 for the basement finishing).

"In a basement, one of the most important things we can do is maximize the ceiling height," Spencer says. "A lot of times people will just box out around those obstacles, but we try to make the basement look like the main floor of the home, so it's important to us that we don't do things you wouldn't do on the main floor."

 

Company: Custom Basements Inc. (www.custombasements.com), Roswell, Ga.

Location of project: Roswell

Age of home: 7 years

Scope of work: billiards room, home theater, bar, powder room, kitchen with stackable washer/dryer, and mother-in-law suite, all in previously unfinished basement; also added an elevator, extended rear deck coming from basement





 

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