Transforming Your Finished Basement into Habitable Space: Top Regulations to Remember

Transforming Your Finished Basement into Habitable Space: Top Regulations to Remember

Sometimes, the answer to a shortage of space is right in front of you. If you have a basement, it would cost you anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 to transform it into an in-law apartment, gym, office or home theater. This is probably half of what you will pay to have a similar addition upstairs. But when finishing a basement, there are certain rules that you must abide by.

Know Your Code

Any living space in the basement requires rescue openings and an emergency escape. The first thing to do would be to check with your local building codes. Check if your local authority has codes or whether they have adopted the International Code Council.  The code states that if a basement has one or more sleeping rooms, they must have rescue openings and an emergency egress in every sleeping room, but these are not mandatory in adjoining rooms of the basement.

Egress Requirements

The rule about an egress is that whether it’s a door or window, it needs to open easily to the outside without using tools or keys. Besides, it must be in accordance with code requirements for the width and height of the basement egress windows. The window needs to meet the following requirements:

  • Minimum width of the opening should be 20 inches
  • Minimum height of opening needs to be 24 inches
  • Minimum net clear opening of 5.7 square feet
  • A sill height should be no higher than 44 inches over the floor

It’s Smart to Invest in Noise Control

One big advantage of having a recreation room or playroom in your basement is to cut down noise from foot traffic in the living room. However, it’s still possible to hear loud movies and music. Therefore, you need to plan and insulate the ceilings above the basement. This can cost you in the region of $1,000. Drop ceilings also have a noise control feature. Alternatively, you could go for sound deadening attachment clips or drywall.

The Basics of Basement Egress Window System

  • A buck that’s poured in the wall at the time of construction will create a frame on the foundation wall.
  • To keep the basement window free of the earth, use a window well. You can bolt it to a buck, or your foundation wall in case of a remodel.
  • A basement window needs not to be of any particular style as long as it meets code requirements.
  • Safety grilles or gates will keep pests and people from falling inside the well
  • Prevent debris from falling into the well and filling it with well covers
  • Steps or ladders should be availed to enable people to get out of the well

An unfinished basement can be a fantastic way of adding extra space to your home. But while it might appear easy to convert it into a spare bedroom, play area for your kids or a home theater, make no mistake. The process isn’t as easy as slapping up drywall and adding a floor. Based on what you intend to do with your basement upon completion, you will have to take into account the above regulations.

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