Finishing a lower level is all about making it into a livable space
just like the rest of your house. However, this can take some work! Many lower levels aren't originally designed to function as living spaces, which is why this project often involves some serious renovation.
Just what kind of renovation are we talking about? Let's take a look at the necessities that you need to think about when remodeling your lower level, including legal requirements for rating the basement as a living space!
Just how high should the ceiling in your lower level be? Well, especially if people will be living down there or part of the area is a bedroom, then there's a simple rule you should follow. Keep the ceiling at least seven feet high for 50 percent of the ceiling space. This will help you meet building code requirements as well as keeping it roomier. However, be careful when you pick your ceiling installation; some ceilings lower the height much more than others. Generally, try to stay away from paneled ceilings when possible.
A finished lower level requires an egress point for safety. Unless you have a door leading directly from the lower level to the outdoors — and this is a possibility for larger renovations — this means installing an egress window, or a window large enough to open and escape from during an emergency. There are a lot of requirements for an egress window, including size (5.7 square feet), a large enough window well, an escape ladder if necessary, and height requirements for the window itself. It's a good idea to choose early on where and how to install an egress window.
Size is a tricky issue when finishing lower levels as you may be limited in just how big your space can be! But keep in mind that a proper-sized bedroom should be at least 70 square feet for comfort's sake — that's about seven feet in any horizontal direction. Smaller than this, and the bedroom feels like a closet.
In addition to an egress window, it's also very important to consider other windows in your lower level. First, windows are great in a lower level space as they add more all-important natural light. Keep in mind that you can often expand current windows into larger versions to let in more light.
Other Building Codes
There are plenty of other important building code requirements for your lower level that you should go over with a professional construction company. For example, lower levels typically require moisture barriers on the floor and walls before installation can begin. Ventilation is another important concern. You may also want to talk about plumbing, wiring, and HVAC options for your basement, and find out what you need according to your local codes.
Would you like to talk about planning a remodel or a similar home renovation project? At Owens Construction, we can help! Contact us today to explore your options and arrange an estimate.