Basement size

No less than a square city block.

Dont you think you should be concerned with whats above ground (i.e. a big kitchen, enough bedrooms and bathrooms, etc...) and just let the basement fall into place with it?

I cant say that it makes any sense to buy a house based solely on how big the basement is...


"Of course we know its O-gauge or no gauge." -- Sheldon Cooper

Basement sizes on Long Island are usually good size (Sometimes as large as the whole house minus the garage).  Don't worry about it and do what the other poster said.  Make sure the above ground living quarters are what you want and need.


The fact that there is a basement is always on my house list, and finished even higher, but concentrate on other parts of the house first. 


You can design a layout to work in just about any space and that's part of the fun.



Many fellow forumites here have smaller layouts like 4x8, 5x9 and so on. Mine is 8x12 with two "wings" and at times it's more than enough. Start small my friend. Be sure your new home is in good shape to buy, then move on to the layout. As others said... You'll soon find that you never have enough space. Good Luck Sean

I'm not familiar with Long Island real estate, however the bigger basements are usually in ranch house designs, e.g. our new home has 3 bedrooms etc. with a 2100 sq. ft. basement this is the smallest home in our development but the biggest basement.  My wife is allocated 35 sq. ft.that less the furnace & water heater leaves about 2000 sq. ft. for the railroad.

TCA 85-2...., Pittsburgh Independent Hi-Railers 


"Never, never, never, quit"

Thanks for all the input. My wife and I are going to in every house with the understand we need to replace all bathroom and kitchen before we move in. The kids are on the way that what really speed up the process this weekend. My goal was really to find what is the best size for a basement. To build dream layout. My self never had a layout but collect my trains. Plus my Neo mastiff out grow the apartment

Envision your dream layout in HO, calculate the square footage.   Multiply that result by 8.  That will be the area needed for your layout, which does not include access(stairs, walkways, a vantage point, etc.) or amenities like a furnace or water heater.


Originally Posted by Yank252001:

I am buying my first house this weekend on Long Island. I am just wondering what basement size would be good for std o layout.



Jon, you’re a smart guy you have your priorities straight.


Originally Posted by Hugh Laubis:

Better make sure it is a 'dry' one!

That is sound advice. I would rather have a small dry basement than a huge wet basement. No matter what the size is, make sure that you finish off the room nicely before you start building benchwork. When we built our recent raised ranch, I made sure that a finished train room was included. The room is 24 x 14 and I am able to fit an L shaped 8 x 16 layout.

I actually had a water problem during the flood of 2010. When I rebuilt the room I installed this flooring called "Thermal Dry" in case of future problems and I love it. Here is a link;id:14422912119;kw:thermaldry%20flooring;type:e;ap:1t2;device:&gclid=COiVsLmP_7QCFYLd4AodvQEAYw  

Originally Posted by Boilermaker1:

No less than a square city block.

Dont you think you should be concerned with whats above ground (i.e. a big kitchen, enough bedrooms and bathrooms, etc...) and just let the basement fall into place with it?

I cant say that it makes any sense to buy a house based solely on how big the basement is...

Your first answer was correct.  As for the rest....HERETIC!  



TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

This is your best chance to do it right. If you are going to build a decent size model railroad, size of the basement is important. Usually a ranch style home will afford you a better opportunity to get a good size basement as the footprint of the building is normally larger than a colonial, etc.


I would tell your realtor up front that you want a big "dry" basement and have the individual preview the properties before they drag you around from one place to another. Tell the realtor up front that you DO NOT WANT TO WASTE YOUR TIME and whatever they schedule for you to visit, it must meet your criteria or you will find another realtor. Many times they do not listen and take you do their personal listings as a priority. Don't be pressured and buy only what makes good sense to you and your wife.

I cannot recommend this too strongly, be very, very clear with your spouse how this room is going to be used.  Are you planning on having a permanent layout?  Or a seasonal one?  If seasonal, what else will the room be used for?  Who has final say on flooring, windows, the walls, painting, lighting, egress, storage? When we added an upstairs room and a basement room below to our current house, I assumed my wife and I had an agreement that the basement room was mine and I was going to put a permanent layout in it.  And you know what happens when you ASSUME.  You make an A@@ out of U and ME......So, just be clear about what you want before hand!!!   Good luck!

A few pointers, IMHO...


1) While mentioned by someone above, water, mold, mildew damage from Sandy should be a bigger concern.


2) Overall size is certainly important.  However, the location of your walls, stairs, doorways, HVAC, etc. are equally important.  Usable square footage may be what to look for.


Folks with "upstairs" layouts can go through walls if necessary b/c they're typically made of plaster or dry wall.  In a basement, especially an older one, the walls will be concrete or cinder you can't really go through them.


You must now also face the ultimate dilemma of O Gauge Railroading:  the choice between wide, realistic sweeping curves or smaller curves that will give you more layout options.  As I get older, my railroad curves (and myself) seem to get wider.

One point that has been mentioned in the past about layout (size), which this basement discussion is closely related, is maintenance.  Assuming the layout gets completed, it has to be cleaned and maintained in operational condition.  A climate controlled environment is a plus.  A little less, comfortable environment, well lit, and easily accessible may be an advantage. 

Being a former Long Islander, I have to say good luck, The property tax is a killer. The bigger the house and basement, the more you are going to pay. What towns are you looking at>???



All Lionel Postwar, MPC, LTI Standard O, Postwar Celebration Series, Conventional Classics, All the way!!!


Hello Seaford only south merrick rd. Wantagh woods Massapequa only south of merrick rd Same for Merrick and bellmore. We found one a couple of days in was 600,000 with taxes 15,000 plus village tax 2300 this in Massapequa park the house need complete update it hard being 30 on Long Island Thanks



The 2,400 Sq-Ft ranch house we bought three years ago had a 2,200 Sq-Ft basement; totally unfinished except it had a nice 5 x 10 full bathroom already done with the inside completely finished. After much deliberation, I decided to divide it thusly:


Train room: 33 x 38. (There is a 9 x 20 area for guests to gather.)

Study: 12 x 22

Shop: 16 x 22

Exercise room: 12 x 12

Utility room: 10 x 12

Bathroom: 5 x 10


Hints (many have been voiced before)

• Make sure the basement is dry. If it is not and is not a question of leaks, dehumidifiers can help – again, if it is just a question of humidity.

• When dividing up the basement, remember that it is very handy to have a workshop close to the train room. Other rooms will come in handy as well, such as a bathroom, study, etc.

• When planning the train room size and layout, keep in mind what your objectives are, and how much time you are willing to wait until the layout is ‘finished’ to a reasonable degree from your point of view.

• Finish everything (studs, wiring, drywall, mudding, painting, ceilings, and flooring) before you start the train; even if it means painting the backdrop or pasting purchased backdrops over the freshly painted train walls.


Good Luck!



Happy O-Gauge Railroading!

  Alexander Müller

See My Mostly Completed Layout Here

OGR Articles: Runs 256, 263, 267, 292

OGR  forum member since 26 January 2008

Obviously, if you intend to build a train layout, the larger the space, the better for future growth whiich will happen.  Basement are a little like boats:  All of them are two feet too short!  Now, if it's a nice house and the basement isn't quite what your like to devote to your trains, there are a couple of things you can do:  Build up;  my own layout runs from 30" above the floor all the way up to 60" off the floor.  My basement if one that is probably 20 feet too short!  So I have four levels of track, all interconnected and trains run from one level to another.


Point is, if you have any space at all for a layout, you can make the best of it by doing a bit of planning and building.


Paul Fischer


   Paul you are right, and my layout was in my upstairs game room for many years, 5 levels high with all the goodies.

Unfortunately our 100 year old home outside of Pittsburgh, Pa has a work type basement in it, seriously cut up and damp even with a DH, not really suitable for my trains.  I always wanted a big 2500' basement game room in a big Ranch house here in Churchill,  I told my better half if we ever move again, the new house must have the kind of basement I can make into a serious train room.  In Slidell, La I had a tripple Garage, and a big outing building for storage.   I had a fantastic tripple Garage layout, 4 levels high, the Garage doors opened at Christmas time so the entire Coin De Lestin Estate, could come visit and view the layout, it was fantastic having that much room to build.  Unfortunately that home was taken by the last big Hurricane that hit New Orleans and Slidell. 


Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

Yank - good luck south of merrick with a completely dry basement. I don't recommend it with its proximity to the water. it tends to be even more humid in those basements. seaford is also one of the lowest towns on the south shore and floods with a heavy rain.

Hello Thanks studrat for the good information. The other issues we are run into where only buying in area that there is natural gas In the ground. My father and I both order generac 20kw unit that will be delivery in April. due to sandy we had no power for three weeks and with future kids we figure to invest in this. To keep the house and basement dry i am working with my father in law on a whole humidifier and dehumidifier system.
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