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RDS 04-22-2008 09:32 AM

Code for basement ceiling height
My town website says that to finish a basement I need seven feet of height. It's not clear, though, whether that's unfinished height (i.e. concrete floor to bottom of joists) or finished height. It matters in my case, because my unfinished height is about half an inch over seven feet. Sheetrocking the ceiling and adding flooring would bring it in just below 7'.

Anyway I've found in the past that it takes the building office a week or more to respond to inquiries like this, but since this is probably a standard thing across jurisdictions, I thought I'd ask the experienced folk here what the most likely answer is. Thank you in advance.

Termite 04-22-2008 10:14 AM

Seven feet is the magic number in the International Residential Code, and it is measured from finished floor to finished ceiling.

You should be able to apply for a variance (code modification request) and receive it if you can demonstrate that you're applying the sheetrock to the underside of the floor joists and are not furring the whole thing down unnecessarily. The jurisdiction's building official would be out of line to ask for more than that on an existing house. He has to be able to show that the ceiling was applied as high as is reasonably possible. If your house were still being built, that would change things a little, but there should be some wiggle room.

If for some reason you can't get the variance approved, your city or county is required to have an appeals process. This is usually a board of code review.

As a city inspector, I'd be shocked if this weren't approved by the building official.

Termite 04-22-2008 10:15 AM

If it took a week for a resident's call to my office to be returned, I would be standing tall in front of the mayor and the city council explaining myself. That is shameful!

RDS 04-22-2008 10:46 AM

One way or another I will have to speak with them, but it's good to have a general 'lay of the land' going in, so thanks.

I wish my town building office had standards of efficient service as high as yours, but such has not been my experience so far, unfortunately!

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