The Basement Renovation: Accommodating a window
We ran into an interesting problem with our basement floor plan. The ideal location for the common wall between the computer room and the furnace room bisected an existing window. To move the wall so the window was completely in the computer room would have been impossible without moving the furnace. And moving the wall so the window was completely in the furnace room would have shaved about a foot off of the width of the computer room. The best compromise was to build a box around the window to bring it into the computer room while only encroaching on a corner of the furnace room.
The window box was constructed out of wood rather than the metal framing because it had to support the weight of a horizontal piece of drywall, and I also wanted the versatility of having shelves on the furnace room side of the structure for additional storage. While metal framing might have been strong enough to accomplish this, I was more confident with wood.
Once the drywall was hung, the window was entirely in the computer room. Thus light is allowed into the space that needs it, rather than being wasted in the furnace room.
The frame work is in two parts. The “base” is essentially a free-standing box that is fastened to the concrete floor with Tap Cons and to the outside wall using screws, brackets and anchors. The connection to the wall is not as strong as it could be. Ideally, the wall should have been attached to the block foundation or a framing stud instead of just anchoring it to the drywall. However, with the drywall tying the wood and the steel framing together, the structure is stable enough. The top part of the structure is simply a wall that is screwed to the base unit and to the ceiling. This further stabilizes the entire structure.
A Better Way: What I should have done was build two full-height walls to create an alcove in the computer room. I could have then framed a half wall even with the computer room wall to create the same look, The overall structure would have been much stronger.
When I sized the box, I made sure that it was large enough to allow easy access to the window, not only for opening and closing but also cleaning.
The wood block on the ceiling hides the gas pipe which was slightly lower than the finished drywall ceiling. The block is hollowed out on the side up against the ceiling to allow clearance for the pipe.
On the furnace room side, I left the an opening to create a small built-in cabinet. I installed a couple of shelves, making this an ideal place to store light bulbs, batteries and furnace filters. This is a definite case of function over form, but it is in the furnace room and is therefore not normally seen by visitors.
I had made a simple plywood door for it, but the door just did not look right with the sloping floor. Rather than having the bottom shelf so close to the floor, I should have raised it up about 6 inches so it was completely level, and installed a kick plate cut to accommodate the sloping floor. If the door was at least a couple of inches from the floor, it would have looked a lot better. It’s called a learning curve, folks!
When I determined the overall size of the structure, I also had to take into consideration the necessary clearance for the furnace, so that the furnace could be easily replaced without having to knock down any walls. It’s always important to think ahead…