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Old 01-12-2010, 05:28 PM   #1
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Can someone provide some easy to understand requirements on making a room "habitable"?

(As I understand it, our city has adopted all of the latest codes through 2008 with few modifications.)

We are finishing in a basement, and we have one room that is underground. We are NOT going to make it a "bedroom" (i.e. we're not building an egress window), so we just have to follow codes to make the space "habitable".

But when I asked the local inspector what the requirements were, he only printed me out a page from the code books (which includes references to sections not included).

The wording seems to make it sound like it's impossible to have a "habitable" room that isn't on an outside wall (so that you can have windows) without what seems like over the top "extra" requirements.

Can someone give me the "Reader's Digest" version of code requirements for a "habitable" room (that is NOT a bedroom)?

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Old 01-12-2010, 05:35 PM   #2
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Can you scan up a copy of the paper the inspector gave you?

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Old 01-13-2010, 10:00 AM   #3
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


They are siting the 2009 International Residential Code Section R303 (they simply printed page 53 for me).

The key here is the subject of "Ventilation".
The code is saying that a "R303.1 Habitable rooms" require ventilation through a window, door, or other approved opening "to the outside air". The only exception is where these openings are not required by Section R310 (I don't have R310) and an approved mechanical ventilation system is installed.

Basically, the legales of this document seems to say that every room in a home has to be on an outside wall with an operating window OR have a mechanical ventilator. But I know that there are some large homes that don't have exterior wall rooms and don't have mechanical ventilation (example, homes with a media room or home theater in them).

This all seems rediculous just so I can add some insulation and drywall to a basement room. So what I'm really after is what else might be in the code that will allow me to use this room (other than as a bedroom) without jumping through hoops.


At least I do seem to have one out...Ventilation is apparently not required if I install a whole-house fan. (R303.1 exceptions).




I guess in the end, what I'm really trying to determine is what can I legally use this space for such that it's heated space, insulated, and I DON'T have to jump through expensive or redicoulous hoop (i.e. add a window/egress/ventilation).
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:18 AM   #4
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Moved to New Question

Please STOP starting multiple threads on the same issue
They will be deleted
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Last edited by HooKooDooKu; 01-13-2010 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:39 AM   #5
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Can you get by with simply installing a bathroom "fart-fan"? You don't ever have to turn it on if you don't want to.
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:42 AM   #6
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Or on the inside walls to the rest of the basement leave a 6" gap along the top
Or - put in glass sliders to allow light into the room
Maybe even just a fixed sliding glass door panel as a big window

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Old 01-13-2010, 11:19 AM   #7
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


First of all, I'll admit this question is really just asking "Making an Interior Room Habitable Space " all over again. But I think I'm asking the wrong question... so let's try again.


I have an unfinished basement we want to finish in. On of the rooms is mostly underground with cinder block on 75% of the perimeter. We do NOT want to spend the money to add a window or egress for this room, so a bedroom is out.

What can we legally do to this space that keeps us from having to jump through hoops.

When I asked this basic question of the building inspector, he just handed me a small section of the 2009 International Residential Code that talks about ventilation. The the limited set of rules doesn't seem to fit with reality. Based on what I've read, you could sum the code up to say every single room in your house must be on an outside wall so that you can have a window, or install a ventilation system as if the room was a part of a chemical factory.

Surely there are some sort of exceptions because I've seen large houses with interior rooms (think home theater systems) that were not jumping through hoops.

Perhaps as a side question, what is the definition of a "habitable" room, and what are rooms NOT considered "habitable"?
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Old 01-13-2010, 11:23 AM   #8
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Quote:
Originally Posted by Willie T View Post
Can you get by with simply installing a bathroom "fart-fan"? You don't ever have to turn it on if you don't want to.
No, because in this case, the purpose for the ventilation is in the other direction. The idea is each room needs a possible source of outside air. But the purpose of a fart-fan is to move the inside air to the outside.

But the issue with even installing something like a fart-fan (in reverse) is that I would need to punch a hole in a cinderblock AND Brick wall... or run a really long pipe to another basement wall that doesn't have the brick.
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:05 PM   #9
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Habitable Space:

space in a building for living, sleeping, eating, or cooking. Bathrooms bathroom closets, hall storage, or utility areas are not considered habitable space.

From: http://www.whinspection.com/glossary/glossary.htm
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:19 PM   #10
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Maybe a wine celar!

Then after it's built it's just space....
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Old 01-13-2010, 05:19 PM   #11
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


You need an egress window or door for the basement, if a living space. That window cannot count for the bedroom, but the bedroom egress window can count for the required basement egress. Just showing how a basement needs egress besides the stairwell.

The heat and ventilation requirements are also needed. Smoke detector, minimum room size requirements, min. 36" hallways, min. ceiling height basements, etc.

They may have it all on line, such as: http://www.aacounty.org/IP/Resources...ementGuide.pdf

http://www.pwcgov.org/docLibrary/PDF/005575.pdf

Basement OR bedroom egress: http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=...01YzyGnQ8v_t9g


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Old 01-27-2010, 10:48 AM   #12
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


You may be ok if you install a second doorway to your bedroom (2nd egress). My friend in NJ had to do that in his basement bedroom according to his inspector. Check with your inspector.
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Old 01-27-2010, 12:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by tjr002 View Post
You may be ok if you install a second doorway to your bedroom (2nd egress). My friend in NJ had to do that in his basement bedroom according to his inspector. Check with your inspector.
The room has two doorways already. One leads to a playroom with an outside door and windows, one that leads to a garage.

I apparently have two strikes going against me.

1. No egress direct to the outside (i.e. based on some of the wording I've seen, if you have a huge house, you can't have a living space or a bedroom anywhere near the center of the house, it must all be on an outside wall).

2. A door directly to the garage. Apparently a bedroom can NOT open directly to a garage. The way the unfinished space is laid out, it looks like you're supposed to have a walk-through closet between the bedroom and the garage. I don't know if that is enough to count as not being connected directly to a garage.
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Old 01-27-2010, 09:43 PM   #14
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Correct! On both counts. 3. And an egress door must have direct access to outside, (not through garage). IRC 311.4.1 This pertains to basement habitable rooms too, when a window doesn't meet egress for the basement. Along with the other requirements- width, height, locks, etc.

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Old 01-28-2010, 03:19 AM   #15
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Making an Interior Room Habitable Space


Not that it matters for my situation... but with the way egress seems to be defined in code, how is it even possible to have a habitable room in a house that is NOT along an outside wall (seems to make "fat" houses illegal)?

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