Finished Basement when home was purchase?

Asked by Ty, West Saint Paul, MN Sun Oct 21, 2012

When my wife and I purchased our home a couple of years ago there were two rooms finished in the basement. We want to add a second bathroom in the basement since our family is growing however upon investigation into the city codes I found that the headroom in the basement needs to be 7'. This is the case without any ceiling and is not the case in the two existing rooms. Does this mean that these rooms are not considered liveable space? Can we install a bathroom in the basement or will we have to find a way to raise or lower the ceiling the in the existing rooms?

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Susan Hofflander’s answer
Susan Hoffla…, Agent, Shoreview, MN
Mon Oct 29, 2012
Hi, Ty!
I would apply for the permits and find out what the inspector has to say.

And, just because there is a legitimate ceiling height factor doesn't mean you can't use spaces in your home for whatever you like. There are many 1 1/2 story homes that have upper level spaces with rather low ceiling height, but many home owners use the spaces for bedrooms or offices or whatever.

It would come in to play when you go to sell. Make sure you disclose that the those spaces might be considered "non-conforming". That usually spells it out to those who are inquiring!!

Good luck~
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Cameron Piper, Agent, Forest Lake, MN
Tue Oct 23, 2012

Raising the ceiling can be an exceptionally expensive endeavor. The cost would likely not be worth the addtional space that you will receive. I would simply submit your request for permit and let the city tell you that you cannot have the space down there. Even then, you might be able to fight the ruling through the planning and zoning board (seeking a varianace) or the city council.

There are ways to work around the current joist system and drop your soffits where needed to maximize headroom. I would definitely look into a system that is attached directly to the underside of the joist and not a drop or hanging ceiling sort of system.

Cameron Piper
Coldwell Banker Burnet
licesned MN Real Estate Broker
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Elizabeth Fu…, Agent, Wayzata, MN
Sun Oct 21, 2012
You will need to contact the city permits and code compliance department. Sometimes exceptions are made, but they may need to be approved by city departments or other compliance enforcement
departments. Good luck! Liz, 612-986-4105
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