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Old 11-26-2013, 07:38 PM   #1
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Minimum ceiling height - Massachusetts

780 CMR states the following regarding minimum ceiling height:

5305.1 Minimum Height
. Habitable rooms,
hallways, corridors, bathrooms, toilet rooms, laundry
rooms and basements shall have a ceiling height of
not less than seven feet (2134 mm). The required
height shall be measured from the finish floor to the

lowest projection from the ceiling.
1.Beams and girders spaced not less than four
feet (1219 mm) on center may project not more
than six inches (152 mm) below the required
ceiling height.

I am creating a rec room in my basement. I have one steel/wood beam and steam pipes that run below the ceiling joists, and would require a 4' wide soffit to box it all in. The bottom of the soffit would be below the minimum 7' ceiling height by a about 2", but the rest of the ceiling would be at least 7'. Since this soffit is the "lowest projection from the ceiling", I was sure that it would be a code violation. Could #1 above be applied to the soffit to relax the height requirement to 6'6? The code relaxes the height requirement for "ductwork and other obstructions", but this only applies to non-habitable areas.
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Old 11-26-2013, 08:00 PM   #2
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You should be asking your local building dept. this question. There the only ones that can give you a final yes or no.
When posting in forums, letting us know your location will help others give better feedback/advice/solutions to your questions
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:49 AM   #3
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first off your cut and past appears to be from the 7th edition or earlier version of the the Massachusetts Building Code for One- and Two-Family Dwelling as section 5305 does not appear in the current 8th edition.

here is the Mass Amendments to Section R305
it allows ceiling height of 6'-8"


R304.1 Minimum area. Every dwelling unit shall have at least one habitable room that shall have not less than 120 square feet (11 m2) of gross floor area.

R304.2 Other rooms. Other habitable rooms shall have a floor area of not less than 70 square feet (6.5 m2).

Exception: Kitchens.

R304.3 Minimum dimensions. Habitable rooms shall not be less than 7 feet (2134 mm) in any horizontal dimension.

Exception: Kitchens.

R304.4 Height effect on room area. Portions of a room with a sloping ceiling measuring less than 5 feet (1524 mm) or a furred ceiling measuring less than 7 feet (2134 mm) from the finished floor to the finished ceiling shall not be considered as contributing to the minimum required habitable area for that room.

if you are constructing a Rec room in the basement then it would appear it is used for living purposes and would be a habitable space. if the enclosed space contains at least 70 square feet of area that meets the ceiling height requirement and does not have a horizontal measurement of less than 7 feet then it should be ok in my opinion, of course it is my opinion that Dunkin Donuts charges too much for a large iced coffee.

of course as joe said the opinion of the building official is the one that truly matters. I'd ask their opinion and would use R304 and R305 as justification.

Which town in southeastern Mass is this located in?

"You get what you pay for, and sometimes free costs more!"

Last edited by GBrackins; 11-27-2013 at 09:52 AM.
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