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LVDIY 01-22-2013 06:50 PM

Basement and code
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I have an unfinished basement, cinder block walls and concrete floors. I am thinking of doing a few improvements. I would like to put up a wall to split the basement in half, leaving all my utilities and mechanicals on one side and the rest of the basement on the other side. I am then thinking of doing epoxy paint on the floors and put up ceiling tiles.

I am not turning this into a living area, but I'm hoping to reduce some of the noise from my furnace and washer / dryer, and also create a nicer area in the rest of the basement to use for storage.

Do you guys see any issues with this approach, and would putting up this wall somehow trigger some code issues? Obviously the basement will not be up to code as a living area, so I'm curious if putting up a wall will somehow require everything to be up to code.

As a more general question I'm wondering what the codes are for a living area vs an unfinished basement and where that line is drawn? Is it just a matter of what you define an area as, or is a basement that is finished to a certain degree considered a living space?

I will eventually call my zoning office, but I'm just looking for some general advice first so that I can have a (hopefully) more intelligent conversation with them.

joecaption 01-22-2013 08:35 PM

In my area if there a closet, bathroom or a bed it's concidered living space.
Adding lighting and outlets you may need a permit.
Far better to just call them and ask instead of count on a DIY web site, where not the ones getting the fine.

LVDIY 01-22-2013 08:40 PM

9 Attachment(s)
Thanks joecaption,

don't worry, I will be calling the zoning office and I will be getting permits if needed.

I just wanted to throw it out here since sometimes more experienced people than myself have some immediate advice or concerns that aren't obvious to me. Just trying to make sure I ask the right questions when I do call.

Thanks for mentioning electric, It reminds me I'd like to put a few new outlets in this wall unless that complicates things too much.

joecaption 01-22-2013 08:45 PM

If they do concider this as living space there going to be looking for points of egress.
(a window or door big enough to get in or out in case of fire.)

mikegp 01-23-2013 07:23 AM

Really depends on your area. Some places will need a permit for putting up a wall, others won't care. In my city you need a letter permit if you're moving your kitchen cabinets around.

concretemasonry 01-23-2013 09:04 AM

There are three things to consider in a personal situation:

1. Tell them you just want to put up a partition wall to separate the unfinished basement from the utility area, which is actually better from a sound and to provide possible storage wall space in the unfinished area. Roxul, a mineral wool beteen studs and joists,(much better than fiberglass and is easier to work with) and is good to reduce attenuation between areas.

2. Make the door opening in the wall wide enough and located for easy removal of appliances (furnace, washer, drier) in the future. Make a hand sketch (not computer generated if possible) with a few dimensions to give the code boys an idea of what you want to do. They may want a double drywall on the separating wall, but that makes the soundproofing easier for you - that is not bad. It sounds like you eventually was to finish the "unfinished area" in the future, but do not make it obvious to them, so keep it simple. It is a partition wall and keep and save notes of anything they say, since you could be on a ling range "hit list" if the uses change to somewhat thing different.

3. From a sound standpoint double drywall of walls and ceilings works adequately for most uses and it increases the fire resistance of walls and ceilings. It is doable for a DIYer. Special other ceiling systems are more costly.


hammerlane 01-23-2013 09:08 AM


Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 1099848)
If they do concider this as living space there going to be looking for points of egress.
(a window or door big enough to get in or out in case of fire.)

Really?? installing a few outlets for a storage space could be considered a living space?

md2lgyk 01-23-2013 12:08 PM

Heresy here, I know, but I would never consider getting a permit for such a simple job. Just do it, do it right, and don't worry about it.

rusty baker 01-23-2013 03:56 PM

In my area, you can do what you want to the space, electrical, plumbing, etc, as long as you do it yourself. In you hire it done, you will need permits for some of it.

LVDIY 01-23-2013 05:25 PM

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Thanks for the input everyone...

I am probably not going to finish the area much further. My basement is pretty dry for my area and age of the home, but if we have another storm like Irene, or if we had been on the rainy side of Sandy, then my basement will likely have some seepage, so I don't want to mess around with the exterior walls. I doubt my basement will flood, but since it could happen, I don't want to be in a situation where I spend a lot of money on something that will not be covered by insurance.

As for permits, I will pull permits and get it inspected if I decide to do any electrical work, since it will be an added layer of protection if anything where to happen down the road. Again, I don't want to be in a situation where it's questioned should I ever have a fire claim.

fred54 01-24-2013 07:46 AM

usually if you have a wall you will need electrical outlets on that wall and if you box in your HVAC you will need to ensure that there is a supply of combustion air.

Both very simple and you should have no problem with permits if you meet those bare minimums.

LVDIY 01-24-2013 08:05 PM

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Originally Posted by fred54 (Post 1100783)
usually if you have a wall you will need electrical outlets on that wall

This is where I get confused. Is this the case even in a utility area like a basement? My garage doesn't have outlets on all the walls, and neither does my basement currently, so is this really a code requirement?

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