Our basement currently is laid out as a separate rental apartment (unheated entry space, hallway, bathroom, bedroom, eat-in kitchen), a common area (including a washer/dryer/sink space, a garage with storage racking, and a separate storage room), an interior staircase connecting the storage room to the owner's unit kitchen, and an exterior staircase connecting the owner's unit kitchen to the backyard. (The rental apartment is ground level and enters from the backyard.) There is also a boiler room that is completely inaccessible from inside the house - you enter from an exterior door at the side of the house. The exterior staircase, rental entry space, and one wall of the rental bedroom were damaged in Hurricane Sandy and the exterior staircase most likely needs to be moved inside (though we're open to options where the staircase stays where it is and is designed to not let water seep between it and what would otherwise be the exterior wall of the house).
Since we need to do fairly major construction to fix the current problems, we'd like to redesign the entire basement to work better for our family long-term - this means we'd like something that works as a rental unit now but can easily be integrated into main house in the future. There is also a lot of wasted space in the current configuration and we'd love to have the layout be more logical.
We'd like to have the future basement contain a garage with some storage and a sink that could be part of either the basement apartment or the owner's unit, and could be blocked off from the other occupants (ie, accesible to only one set of occupants). We'd like to get rid of the separate storage room and make that part of the rental unit, so the rental unit includes a living area in addition to a bathroom, bedroom, and eat-in kitchen. (We sort of envision an "open concept" kitchen/living area, perhaps taking the place of the current bathroom, entry area, and bedroom, and having the bedroom go where the current storage area is, and the bathroom where the current laundry area/kitchen is. But your ideas and arrangements may be much better!) We'd like the redeisgned unit to have more storage space, especially in the bedroom closet. The owners unit has its own laundry area, so the laundry area in the garage can be moved into the rental unit (and we don't mind buying a new, smaller, stackable washer/dryer). We would also like the owner's unit to have direct access to the backyard.
The current interior stairs are very narrow and steep, so we are also fine moving those stairs (maybe under the stairs in the owner's unit between the second and third floors, ie, in the laundry area of the ground floor?). That space could be turned into a pantry for the owner's unit kitchen on the second floor and add to the square footage in the new ground floor apartment.
In the future, we envision the living area of the rental unit becoming a "media room" or family room-type area, the bedroom and bathroom becoming a guest bedroom/bathroom, and the kitchen being easily accessible enough to the backyard to be useful for preparing food in the summer for barbecues/parties/etc.
We would like to keep costs down, so we would like to try to move plumbing and gas lines as little as possible (though, as mentioned earlier, we'd be open to moving the kitchen to where the current bathroom is, so that would most likely require some gas line re-routing).
There is a tin ceiling in the boiler room, and antique doors at the top of the interior staircase and between the owners unit kitchen and door to the exterior staircase (not the exterior door, but just inside that) that we definitely want preserved.
There is a floating floor in the rental unit and storage area that makes the doorways very short and the overall ceiling height a little shorter than desireable, so we'd love to get rid of that to make the ceiling and doorway height more liveable (at least 6'6" for the doorways and at least 8' for the ceiling height).
We're not sure that the current condition of the garage is safe, as far as keeping car emissions out of either the rental unit or the owners unit. We'd like to be as sure as possible that any renovation takes care of that problem.
We'd love to have more soundproofing between the units, especially when it comes to walking above the rental unit bedroom/living area.
*Tenants are in unit until May 1, so we can take more pictures to upload after that date.*
It is very important to us that the design comply with all local and state ordinances.
Beyond that, we would like something that brings the condition of the rental unit - which is currently liveable, but outdated and with some cheap-looking finishes, especially in the flooring - closer to the condition of the rest of the house, which was completely updated with almost all high-end finishes in 2005. However, the cost of the renovation would ideally be around $25,000, so finishes that look high-end but aren't truly top of the line are fine. (For example, in the owner unit kitchen, the cabinets look like a dark cherry wood, but is actually a cheaper wood that was stained.)
If someone could figure out a way for us to have two parking spaces in the garage, that would be beyond our wildest dreams. (We're not expecting that to be possible, though.) We'd be willing to reconfigure the front entrance to the owner's unit if it wasn't wildly expensive. (This is definitely not mandatory, or even a priority over anything else listed.)
It is also very important to us that the design maximizes the use of space efficiently and creatively.