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cibula11 02-09-2009 01:37 PM

Basement Remodel
I am in the beginning stages of planning a basement remodel. Our ceiling is currently 6'8". I know that many codes require this or above as minimum.

1.) does anyone know of what the '03 IBC says about finish ceiling height?
2.) if my ceiling is too low according to code, can I still move forward, knowing that the finished space probably won't count towards our homes Finished square footage or resale value? I guess if that's the case, we could still benefit from using the space....I just don't want to do anything illegal.

Bob Mariani 02-09-2009 02:15 PM

doing it without a permit is illegal. so check you local building department for the correct answer.

jpsmith 02-09-2009 02:19 PM

doing it without a permit is illegal... in certain locations. Where I live, they don't care what you do inside your own home... so long as it conforms to code. But they don't require permits, inspections, or variances. See this thread for more:

Bob Mariani 02-09-2009 02:29 PM

where do you live, that is one strange policy. Do you have a lot of fires in your area.

jpsmith 02-09-2009 02:38 PM

I live in PA, Pittsburgh area. I asked my building inspector:


1. From the document [he sent me a PDF outlining my township's guidelines for finished basements] I see that I do not need a building permit to finish my basement, since I'm making non-structural based alterations. However, do I need to have the work inspected when complete, or at any step along the way such as when framing is complete?

2. My finished, low-profile drop ceiling height will not conform to IRC - it will be about 6'10", and some areas such as under duct work will be more like 6'6". You answered previously that this will be fine, but I'm not clear if I need to have variance formally granted. If so, how do I attain the variance?
And he replied:


No permit or inspections required as per PA State UCC. The height under duct and beam is ok, but why is it only 6'10" in other areas? How old is the house?


Thanks for getting back to me. The house was built in 1950. The height from the concrete floor to the bottom of the floor joists above is about 7'-0.5". There is some variation to this height, but that's the lowest measurement I found. It was 7'-1" in spots, 7'-1.25" in others.

Once I put down a dri-core subfloor (7/8") and some engineered hardwood (1/2" - 3/4") and also install a low-profile drop ceiling that hugs the joists above (1"), I lose about 2.5" when considering the finished ceiling height.


That's fine.

cibula11 02-14-2009 11:37 AM

I understand that NOT getting a permit would be illegal in most cases. My question is...If I do or don't get a permit, can I still convert my basement into a liveable space? If the inspector tells me I can't because the ceilings would be below 7', couldn't I, as the H.O. still remodel the space with the understanding that come selling time it wouldn't be considered in a total sq. footage?

Bob Mariani 02-14-2009 12:27 PM

If the inspector says you cannot do this and there is a fire or flood, your insurance will not cover the damage. But otherwise it seems like in your case no one will be stopping you from doing it.

concretemasonry 02-14-2009 12:45 PM

If he approves your plan AND you get a permit, then you are qualified or grandfathered in to compliance with any additional codes, unless you do another modification that wil open the flood gates for different ptoblems.

The permit and certification is "golden" and keep it for when you sell. It will shut up an questions aboutt he value and legality of the space.

While you are at it, you may want to also install and egress window if it is feasible and economical.


cibula11 03-01-2009 09:27 AM

Thanks for your responses. I measured the space and with floor and ceiling the total height will be about 6'6" - 6'7" . I don't know if any inspector would approve this height. I would need an egress installed, which I think I can handle myself, but I'm not sure if it is better to ask and get turned down or just remodel it and know that most people buying wouldn't consider it liveable due the ceiling height.

gma2rjc 03-01-2009 06:53 PM

IMHO, you should ask. The worst that will happen is they'll tell you 'no', and you're already prepared for that. They might say yes. Either way, at least you'll know.

Would it be worth the cost of having a company come in to properly lower the floor a couple feet?

cibula11 03-13-2009 09:12 AM

Any ideas on what that would cost to lower the floor for around 400 sq ft. Just to prepare myself:)

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