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Finished walk-out basement or over garage bonus - new build

6 years ago
last modified: 6 years ago

My husband and I found an awesome 10 acres in Chatham County, NC to put our horses. Now we need to pick a house plan.

My kids are both grown, gone, married and in the military. We're in our mid 40s. We plan to be at this location until an age where we don't want to take care of 10 acres any more (probably about 12 - 15 years). The location the land is at is about 15 minutes from a future growth explosion - Chatham Park (so eventual resale will be a consideration).

We have picked a 2 story, 1700-ish sq ft little colonial floor-plan. The covenants of this land require 2200 heated sq ft (and that is all it says).

At our current house / farm we mother-in-law-unit-ed our house after the kids left and we have a wonderful roommate (her own entrance and we don't have to cross paths in the house) that also farm sits as part of her having her horse at our farm.

We love this little house floor plan and we really like our roommate and want to add onto this floor plan to get the required square footage with the idea of keeping our roommate.

SO, now the question is... a mother-in-law-suite / studio in the form of a walkout basement OR over the garage.

The footprint of the house is about 820 sq ft for the lower floor, so the basement would be the same.

The garage, right now, is going to be 20 X 28, and connected to the house with a breezeway.

I teach horseback riding, and I do IT work from home, and will require some type of office AND a 2 piece bathroom that is accessible for clients to access without coming 'into my home'.

We've consulted with the builder and are waiting for them (as I type) to come back to us with a more detailed plans and a price for both. But in both an office meeting and an on-site meeting the builder was confident the walk out basement would cost less and offer more square footage.

I'll upload the floor plans and the modifications I made to them for the garage apartment idea (I am not a house builder so I don't know if what I photoshopped are even doable, they just asked what was rattling around in my head and I sent them these). I don't have ANY idea of basement layouts because they said they'd have to get back to us in regards to placement of egress and support columns.

My pros and cons on both are (in no particular order):



1. I could have my office in part of the walkout basement space... and the riding arena will be about 120 ft away at the bottom of the slope which would make for a nice HVAC'd place for parents to sit while their kids take lessons.

2. I'm assuming most people would rather move furniture, or themselves on their two legs (with groceries etc), in and out of a walk-out basement with a gradual slope up to their parking space VS going up and down stairs to an over-garage space. And the 'roomie' would have a patio.

3. We'd have a lot more space for the money ( so the builder said).


1. I don't know how sound proof the basement will be to the living floor above it. My husband and I are not party animals, but we'd also not want to have to police ourselves if we decide to watch a movie with the surround sound on or if one of our dogs has a hyper-sprint across the floor. I also don't want to hear the 'roomie' below.

2. We need a bathroom for customers, and yes I realize I could put one in my office space on my side of the basement... BUT... then the house would have 3 full baths (2 in the 3rd floor where the bedrooms are) and one down in the basement mother-in-law suite, a powder room in the main living floor and then another one down in my basement office??? That is 5 toilets in a (technically) 3 bedroom house.

3. Potentials for moisture trouble.

4. This property is so pretty and with the riding arena out behind the house I worried that, with the walk-out basement, it would look like a 3 story town house VS a cute colonial farmhouse. I also worried that a deck off our living floor would look like scaffolding. I want the back of the house to look as nice as the front of the house.



1. The roomie would be fairly separate since we are talking about the garage being attached to the house by a breeze way, and on the other side of our 'living room' space. I feel like normal noise, like watching a movie or talking on the phone (or having an argument with your spouse, lol) won't be too much of an issue.

2. We talked about the breezeway between the house and garage being a common entry for the 'roomie', for us and for customers needing to use the bathroom, as well as possibly the shared laundry (we were going to put laundry in the garage anyhow). And by doing this we were going to take the powder room OUT of our main floor of the house and access the breezeway via our mudroom.

3. Ascetics, I feel like it would look like it belongs in a farm setting.

4. Better resale value?


1. The builder made it sound like it would be more expensive

2. Will a 'roomie' like going up and down the stairs to get to the space over the garage? Well, I guess as renters it doesn't really matter. *shrugs*

3. I will still need office space that is NOT one of our spare bedrooms upstairs for customers, even though I will have a bathroom in the breezeway that will work for all guests (the roomie, us as the main residents, and horse farm customers).

The actual house -

The actual floor plans that I modified based on the conversations we had with the builder ( I am not a builder so be kind, I was just trying to visualize what the ideas they were bouncing off of us ) -

Single story breezeway

Two story breezeway (a more typical 'bonus' room access)

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