Remodel & Renovate in Boston>Question Details

Shannon Harl…, Home Buyer in Boston, MA

Below Grade Bedroom

Asked by Shannon Harlow, Boston, MA Mon Feb 23, 2009

I am looking in to buying a fixer in the North End of Boston and there is a basement space that comes with the purchase. It is an old basement and needs to be completely renovated. Is it possible to renovate and call it a bedroom. If so what would need to be added to consider it a bed room. Thanks !!

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Shannon,

Usually it is possible to create living area, including bedrooms, in the basement of buildings in Boston. But it will depend on the specifics of the building, especially the egress situation, the ceiling height, whether there is a window to the outside, and a few other details to determine if it is possible in that building. If you have working with a real estate agent to represent you on your purchase, then I suggest having them research your specific situation and building with Boston Inspectional Services Department. If you need someone to help you, I'd be happy to check it out and give you a full evaluation. Just click on "Contact Me" in my profile or visit my blog (link below).
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 23, 2009
Hi Shannon,

Thanks so much for your question.

You should be able to make the basement portion of the condominium provided the room has a closet, a window and an egress. Be very careful though because there is a more than limited population that will enjoy sleeping or living in a basement. Furthermore, if you have to rent the property, usually the rents for apartments in, or partly in, basements can be at least 10% lower than other units that may have the same amenities, bedrooms, square footage, yet aren't in the basement.

Also, being in the north end, the buildings are very close together blocking sunlight into the basement which can adversely impact the presentation and lifestyle of the would be inhabitant. Therefore, just be careful as to how you proceed.

If you would like to talk further about this, feel free to call me at 857-891-5844 or email me at

Thank you.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 24, 2009
check with the building dept, but i believe it also has to have a means of egress to get out in an emergency.
Either a window large enough or an exit door in the basment. you also want to be careful that this basement is not prone to flooding as you dont want to spend $ fixing it up and then get ruined by water seepage. Is it a concrete foundation? Proceed cautiously!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 23, 2009
I don't know what the specifics are in Boston, but in Illinois, in order for a room to be considered a bedroom, it must have a closet. We cannot consider rooms in basements bedrooms in the total room count of listings, either. I definitely recommend speaking with a local Realtor to help you.

Good luck!
Noah Seidenberg.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 23, 2009
Hi, Shannon!

Review the condo doc's first and make sure there aren't any restrictions on building out that space. This means make sure you have a condo doc contingency in your offer.

Also, if you are counting on renovating that space as part of your purchase make sure you bring a contractor by during your inspection or due diligence period so you can find out if the the space is workable.

Lastly, make sure when you are valuing the property prior to making an offer that you count the unfinished basement space as less than half the price/sqre foot as the rest of the above ground level unit. Finished basement space is usually about half the value so unfinished would probably be a little less than that.

Most importantly get yourself an exclusive buyers agent (*does not represent the seller or work on the team of the listing broker) that way you will get all the above advice AND MORE!
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 31, 2012
Hello Shannon, I received e-mail by you today. You ask me about this property

please contact me at for more information.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 31, 2012
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