Basement finishing

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Old 01-27-09, 05:39 PM
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Basement finishing

The main support beam in my basement is 6' 3" high and ceiling code needs 6' 6". Can the basement be finished to code and what are my options. Also what improvements will change the basement from unfinished to finished
 
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Old 01-28-09, 05:30 AM
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Essentially, when you finish a basement you are taking it from an unfinished to a finished space; framed and sheetrocked walls, sheetrocked or suspended ceiling, and some sort of finished flooring, usually carpeting.
Whatever additional goodies, like a bathroom or finished storage closets you want to add is up to you.
The only way to lose your 6'3" girder is to frame a wall under it. There are probably some lally columns under this beam also and usually we try to lose all of these inside a wall. These are things you decide when you are doing your layout.
 
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Old 01-28-09, 05:39 AM
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And you probably won't be code compliant building a wall under the beam, as you have to transverse the opening somehow and that opening must be 80" high, or thereabouts, which you don't have. The maximum door height you could accomplish would be 6'2", and that's looooowww. Check with your authorities to see what they say you can do. Otherwise, it may not be doable.
 
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Old 01-28-09, 06:21 AM
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Thanks. So I guess my next question would be how much could I "clean up" such as just sheet rock the ceiling, and not have it classed as living space by code? I am trying to find out if there is a downside to finishing the ceiling and maybe hiding some pipes if I am not creating a bedroom or trying to count it as living space.
 
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Old 01-28-09, 06:26 AM
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I would absolutely NOT install sheetrock as a ceiling, especially since you will eventually need to access a broken pipe, drain or expand wiring to another part of the house. Since you can't legally make a "finished" room of it, do the best you can with the walls and floor to make it look good. Paint everything in the ceiling flat black so it will "go away". You've seen it in restaurants, etc. where all the A/C ducts, etc. are painted rather than having to install a ceiling. Will you be using it as an office or just storage?
 
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Old 01-28-09, 06:43 AM
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Building codes tend to vary from area to area. Basement ceiling height restrictions do apply, and some areas require higher ceiling height than others. The local building inspector must approve your plans before a building permit will be issued.

In some areas, the requirement for basements is 7' from finished floor to lowest finished projection on ceiling. Spaces with ceiling height less than 7' are considered drawl spaces.

Whether or not a curtain wall beneath the beam would meet building codes would depend upon the building codes in your area.

Here's a good link on this website with links to how-to articles for basements. It's a good start to get you thinking in the right direction. You must, however, check with the building inspector about the beam issue and to see if this project can be permitted.

Basements | DoItYourself.com
 
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Old 01-28-09, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by astrassmann View Post
...what improvements will change the basement from unfinished to finished
I was about to start a thread to ask essentially the same questions. May I pursue this point further here? Who's call is it as to what constitutes "living space" which must meet code? I get that you can't legally call it a finished basement without the proper egress and other code requirements met. But surely it can't be illegal to watch TV or shoot pool in your crawl space.

Isn't the term "finished basement" really just a marketing term for sales and/or a tax term for assessments? I was told by my Realtor (when shopping/buying) that a bedroom must have a window and a closet. Otherwise it's just storage space or a "bonus room." That affects how the property is listed, and therefore what price range it falls into, but it doesn't mean the owner can't put a bed and a bureau and a kid in the room.

So...

Would an inspector disapprove the owner's wiring plan and/or actual installation because the ceiling is 6' 5"?
 
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Old 01-28-09, 08:09 PM
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With the height you have the area will not meet code - either for any doorway or the total ceiling height for a "habitable space". It could be finished for "storage or utility space or similar area".

See the PA code and it's exceptions here under PA residential:


bulk.resource.org
 
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Old 01-29-09, 09:22 AM
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Great resource site!
Assuming that it does not meet code due to the ceiling, will the electrical and walls need to only meet those for a storage or utility area?
 
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Old 01-29-09, 09:32 AM
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Check with your local building inspections office. They can tell you what the code is for your area. I thought I would have the same issue of a too low ceiling due to having to pass under the main HVAC truck to get into the room, but there are exceptions in my county for "under bulkheads." So far, all my framing has passed.

Also this is one thing Chandler and I disagree one...the drywall on the ceiling. Throughout the rest of your house the wires and pipes are buried inside walls. What happens when one of those pipes breaks?

Good luck,
Tom
 
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Old 01-29-09, 12:20 PM
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Similarly to as suggested above, I intended on painting my ceiling as it may be a little to low for comfort should I put sheet rock up....especially in the area right under my duct work (where an access door will be installed). The BI had no comments on the permit regarding this plan, so we'll see how the inspections go.

That said, is the general consensus that if the basement does not have a 'finished ceiling' (i.e. sheet rock/drop as opposed to painted) that it cannot be considered an office/playroom/etc?
 
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Old 01-29-09, 04:32 PM
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Tom, the only reason I opt for not installing sheetrock in basement ceilings is the Majority of piping, ducts, wiring is in the basement, while only turn ups exist in the house above. I know second floors have continuous piping, etc, but the main reason is if you want to expand, install cut offs, lighting, ductwork, you can do it better with a drop ceiling, or in the OP's instance no ceiling with paint to occlude it.
I'll agree it looks better, but since the OP is between a rock and a hard place, that's why I suggested it.
 
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Old 01-29-09, 08:49 PM
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Check out this thread on another site. Post 9 might interest you.
Basement finished with Low Ceilings and no permit - DIY Chatroom - DIY Home Improvement Forum
 
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Old 01-30-09, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Rivethead View Post
Check out this thread on another site. Post 9 might interest you.
Basement finished with Low Ceilings and no permit - DIY Chatroom - DIY Home Improvement Forum
Interesting to see the the inspector was willing to provide feedback and even a bit of leniency.

I looked into my own local codes. The 2006 International Building Code, New Jersey Edition has the following definitions:

HABITABLE SPACE. A space in a building for living, sleeping, eating or cooking. Bathrooms, toilet rooms, closets, halls, storage or utility spaces and similar areas are not considered habitable spaces.

OCCUPIABLE SPACE. A room or enclosed space designed for human occupancy in which individuals congregate for amusement, educational or similar purposes or in which occupants are engaged in labor, and which is equipped with means of egress and light and ventilation facilities meeting the requirements of this code. (Note, this is not the Residential Code, so amusement takes a different tone here than it might in one's basement.)

And this requirement:

1208.2 Minimum ceiling heights. Occupiable spaces, habitable spaces and corridors shall have a ceiling height of not less than 7 feet 6 inches (2286 mm). Bathrooms, toilet rooms, kitchens, storage rooms and laundry rooms shall be permitted to have a ceiling height of not less than 7 feet (2134 mm).

My question is a chicken-or-egg sort. If you think you are creating an occupiable space or a habitable space the code is clear. But does it necessarily mean that if you install drywall on the ceiling and tile on the floor you've violated code? I say not if you've just tiled and drywalled a utility/storage space. As noted in the linked post above, there are resale implications; you couldn't list the house as having a finished basement. But the buyer will either value or not value the condition the basement is in, no matter what you call it.

The real risk is if a catastrophe happens and someone is hurt or killed in your well-appointed utility space. One could sue you for entertaining or providing overnight accommodations in a room that wasn't to code. I owned a rental property once (long distance) and learned that my tenant was operating a church in the large two-car garage. Now THAT's a code violation for ya!.
 
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Old 02-14-09, 03:41 PM
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Hello

For the floor I recommend to you a carpet, since generally it is what is in use, its Comfortable and for the roof it is problematic, since it has plumbing. sorry for my english.


Hawaii Hardwood Floors
 
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Old 02-16-09, 04:07 AM
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To do what you want to legally, you have to go the other way. Excavate and underpin. Yes its very expensive and dirty work. Buy a bigger house.
 
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Old 02-19-09, 02:51 PM
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unless you have a bulkhead the space can't be considered as "habitable" by code anyways, so why are you worried about having your ceilings a few inches below code?

Unless you are trying to get a permit from the inspector to do a basement renovation (which I don't know why you would do that) there's no reason to worry about ceiling heights
 
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