Remodeling a Basement Considerations

Remodeling a Basement Considerations

Before remodeling your basement, it is a good idea to check with your city construction office to determine if there is a mandatory minimum ceiling height. It is much easier to incorporate a particular standard while in the planning process and not after the contractor has arrived and set his hammers and saws in motion. At this point, making major changes to designs will be expensive. If you have an old house that was built before ceiling codes were invoked, you may be able to get a waiver if the height falls below what is required.


Local codes

The ceiling height in a basement intended for remodeling is determined by local building codes set by different cities or towns. Generally, a basement ceiling should be at least in the range of 7 to 8 feet, but there are some areas that allow as low as 6 feet 8 inches.


Most ordinances provide some room for maneuver in the minimum ceiling level for beams and the work leads to be executed. The common sense and the reality of modern interior spaces dictate that there will be areas that need to go lower, at least to a modest extent, to the mandatory specification. Using the example of Larimer County again, barrels and ducts can occupy a space as low as 6 feet 6 inches, allowing a gap of 6 inches below the minimum ceiling height.

Living Spaces

Ordinances that dictate a minimum ceiling height in basements often specify that it applies only to living spaces. If you plan to use it for storage or as a laundry room, there is a good chance that the minimum will not apply. A living room is generally described as one used for sleeping, eating, cooking or dining and excludes most other uses. But if you plan on integrating the basement as an extension of the living areas of the house, you must respect the law regarding the clearance of the head.


There are some good reasons to pay attention to the minimum ceiling requirement in your municipality. The first is that the ceiling hanging too low is an invitation to bang your head, perhaps seriously. Cities do their best to avoid situations that could cause injury or death a hazard that could easily be avoided. The second factor to consider is that a higher cap makes it a more attractive space and can lead to a significant increase in the resale value of the home.


You also need to factor in what it will cost. The average cost to finish a basement depends on the rest of the house as complications can occur.

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