In the Seattle home that builder Paul Vassallo and his wife, Jeremy, bought, the basement had potential as a great space for their three active boys. Paul has decades of building experience, so he could view the space — poorly placed columns, exposed joists, dingy paint — and see what was possible. Understanding what can actually be built is especially critical in a basement remodel, which often requires structural alterations and modifications to plumbing, wiring, and ductwork. These were just the sort of changes the Vassallos employed, along with clever built-in cabinetry. —Adapted with permission fromNot So Big Remodeling by Sarah Susanka, published by The Taunton Press (2009).


Remove a column, and you have to beef up the beam it supported. Here C-shaped steel channels were bolted to either side of the wood beam. The entire assembly was then trimmed out in wood. Supply air ducts were placed between the joists.