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space, planning, architect-on-demand, advice-without-strings

As Alla DIY Ally, I get emails from potential clients requesting help with all sorts of dilemmas. My favorite kind of questions relate to space planning. That’s the area where “architect on demand” can be of real service in the context of working strictly online. Here’s a good example.

A DIYer writes: “I will have some unfinished space in the basement of a new home I’m about to purchase that I would like to turn into a Rental Unit.” He goes on to describe his space planning objectives: “The space is not very large – see the attachment where it is labeled “OPT Den” and “Opt Exercise/Theatre” (below). This is the general area where I would like to get two bedrooms, a shared kitchenette, seating area and bathroom.”

space, planning

Space planning starts with analysis of how the space will be used.

He has a vision: “I was thinking each bedroom could be sectioned off with a Barn Door but still have access to a Window when not in privacy mode.” On top of that, he has very specific requirements: “The space currently has 3 exterior Windows. I need to replace one of them to make a separate Entry Door. The Rental Space should not have access to the main house and inhabitants must enter through their own door. The space labeled “Optional Rec Room” is also in need of at least a Half Bath but a Full Bath is preferred using the plumbing and some space from the Rental unit area. Some of the area labeled “Opt. Storage” can also be used, however it is partially used by some HVAC components.”

Space planning defines the zones for activities that will take place in the space.

Clearly, there’s some flexibility: “The Bathroom that is pictured has a 3 piece rough-in but is not completed and can be moved to accommodate the project.”

In conclusion, he asks me: “Do you think this is a workable project as I have described it given the limited space that is available? What do you estimate the cost would be to design this space and how long would it take to complete the design?”

Very straightforward! I have enough information to develop a plan.

space, planning

Thanks to my client’s precise description, I have everything needed to resolve the space planning puzzle. I print out the base drawing, overlay it with tracing paper and get to work. I know it will take a few layers. Keeping in mind what the requirements are, I massage the plan and finally get to a viable sketch design. It fulfills all of the stated objectives:

  • Each of two bedrooms has a window. Here’s a good post on how to arrange the furniture in the space;
  • The rental unit has its own entrance (one of the three windows is now a door);
  • The unit has a full bath;
  • The space labeled “Optional Rec Room” has a full bath as well;
  • Kitchenette shares a plumbing wall with bathrooms;
  • There is ample room for a seating area.

One issue with the seating area is lack of daylight. I am not sure if barn doors are a good solution. In my opinion, the way to remedy that would be to install transom windows in the interior walls of both bedrooms. In addition, the exterior door can have a glass panel.

Here you have it. This did not take more than 2 hours of my time! If you have space planning questions, I would be more than happy to help. You can contact me here or book 2 hours here.


  • Mia S Kazovsky
    May 22, 2018

    You really do enjoy your job, which makes your DIY Ally clients OH SO LUCKY!

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