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Old 12-27-2009, 12:30 AM   #1
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Minimum wall height for habitable spaces per code?


Would anyone happen to know what the residential building code requires in terms of wall heights for habitable rooms? I'm wondering if I can convert a portion of my attic into living space, and am not sure if I've got sufficient headroom and wall room to make it worthwhile.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that walls had to be a minimum of 4 feet tall (the rest of it can slope to the ceiling), but I'm not 100% sure I'm remembering the requirement right.

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Old 12-27-2009, 07:30 AM   #2
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Minimum wall height for habitable spaces per code?


IRC code is min of 7', R305.1

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Old 12-27-2009, 07:34 AM   #3
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Minimum wall height for habitable spaces per code?


This height has to only apply to a percentage of the room. I think 2/3. This allows you to use sloped side walls you commonly see in attic renovations. However a bigger concern is the floor structure. Joists are not sized to be used for loads required for this renovation.
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Old 12-27-2009, 12:46 PM   #4
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Minimum wall height for habitable spaces per code?


Bill, Bob, thank you both for the great insight. It's very helpful. Interesting to know that the 7' high requirement only applies to a portion of the space. I've seen attic rooms with sloped ceilings and walls that are far less than 7', so what you've explained makes sense. Doing some research on the web last night, another thing I learned is that in many jurisdictions, areas of a room that are less than 5' in height don't count as floor space for tax assessments.

Oh man, it didn't even dawn on me that the attic joists might not be sufficiently robust to serve as a floor. That's a really great point. I'll have an engineer verify feasibility before doing anything.

Last edited by TitaniumVT; 12-27-2009 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 12-27-2009, 01:53 PM   #5
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Minimum wall height for habitable spaces per code?


It's R305, " not less than 7 feet, not more than 50% of the required floor area is permitted to have a sloped ceiling less than 7 feet with no portion of the required floor area less than 5 feet in height."

Some places require more, for example in Chicago it's 7'-6" ( 13-64-050).
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Old 12-27-2009, 02:02 PM   #6
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Minimum wall height for habitable spaces per code?


Thanks Michael. What's the definition of "required" floor area in this context? Does it relate to the minimum size of a room as mandated by the code?

By the way, I just came across this useful reference. It refers to Minneapolis, but the basis is the national code, so I imagine it's at least somewhat similar for my area. I wonder if these restrictions are specific to attic bedrooms, or if it applies to any habitable rooms?

http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/insp...atticbdrms.pdf


Ceiling Height
2006 IRC Section R305: All ceilings must have a minimum height of seven (7) feet including kitchens, baths, hall, closets, etc. For a sloped ceiling, at least 50% of the floor area must have seven (7) foot ceiling height or higher. The floor area is measured from where the ceiling is at least 5 feet high.


Room Dimensions
2006 IRC Section R304: Habitable rooms must have a minimum floor area of 70 square feet, except kitchens, baths, closets and other similar rooms. No habitable rooms can be less than seven (7) feet in width, except kitchen. (Baths are not considered habitable rooms).



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Last edited by TitaniumVT; 12-27-2009 at 02:09 PM.
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