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Basement egress - remodeling

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  • Basement egress - remodeling

    I'm seeing very different interpretations between AHJs. Just today I had a potential client who wanted to make some changes to an already finished basement. No sleeping rooms, but wanted to add a half bath. He was told he needs egress. Most other AHJs don't take that view.

    Curious as to what, in your local AHJ, triggers the requirement for egress in a remodeling scenario.

    We're under IRC2009.

  • #2
    Re: Basement egress - remodeling

    I'm under the 2003 IRC amended 2009. This is a personal call, and technically up to the local AHJ, but....it could be over-turned by either the state or by modification to the state.

    That said, you're entering muddy waters! Why??? Because everyone knows that as soon as there is a full bath the potential could be a new sleeping room. Now, in this case, a half-bath, does not necessarily trigger the egress requirement for me, but, instinct may be causing an overly cautious approach. Of, course, having that sleeper couch is only because that was the floor model and the price was right :-)

    The hard part of code enforcement is knowing that as soon as you drive down the road, people do things they want to, not what they are told is allowed. That is why we document on permit inspections and sign-offs what was approved.....not what they did after we're gone!
    Take Care

    Jim

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Basement egress - remodeling

      I work primarily in two different cities, plus the county. They all three are different. In my city, the egress requirements are different also based on whether the house is a rental, or owner occupied.

      Also, every time I apply for a permit, it seems that they've changed either the engineering requirements, or historical requirements, or something.

      I've retrofitted about 25 egress openings in this town, and the submittal/permit/inspection process was never the same twice. There was one inspector who insisted that all the smoke alarms, on all floors, had to be hardwired together. It's true, the city docs do say that, if you read it in a certain way. But there is also another city doc that says egress retrofits in basements, only require battery operated smoke alarms.

      Had to go over his head to get out of that one.

      The inconsistencies were bad enough that I finally wrote a letter to the man in charge of the AHJ, not that it accomplished a whole lot.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Basement egress - remodeling

        The 2000 IRC R310.1 reads Basements with habitable space and every sleeping room shall have at least one openable emergency escape and rescue window or exterior door opening for emergency escape and rescue.

        Under the 2000 code once the basement was turned into habitable space, it should have had an egress window installed. It did not need to have a sleeping room or a bathroom.

        In the 2009 IRC "habitable" was removed from the wording. Since '09 all new basements here have at least one egress window. If we finish out a basement and add a sleeping room, or divide it into multiple habitable spaces we must add egress window(s). There must be one in the habitable space(s) and the sleeping room.

        http://www.bomankemp.com/coder310.html

        The 2000 IRC defines habitable space as;

        A space in a building for living, sleeping, eating, or cooking. Bathrooms, toilet rooms, closets, halls, storage or utility spaces and similar areas are not considered habitable spaces.

        As already pointed out codes vary by location.

        Tom
        Last edited by tjbnwi; 03-12-2012, 07:42 PM. Reason: aded the word "new"
        http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

        Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Basement egress - remodeling

          Originally posted by tjbnwi View Post

          Since '09 all basements here have at least one egress window.
          Ditto here in every AHJ I've worked but seems it was mandatory earlier.
          Richie Poor

          See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, value engineer your unit prices.

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          • #6
            Re: Basement egress - remodeling

            I work in a dozen different municipalities and they all require at least 1 means of egress if the basement is used for anything more than storage or a laundry area.
            Contact us for all you mailbox post installation needs!

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            • #7
              Re: Basement egress - remodeling

              Richie,

              I just looked, the wording changed in the 2006 code cycle. It may have been a delay in adoption here (I never bought the '06, I buy every other cycle). Your area may have had it sooner.

              Tom
              http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

              Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Basement egress - remodeling

                But at what point in a remodel or bsmt finish are you required to add that egress to an existing basement. Here, if it's a retrofit, we are allowed to use a window with 5.0 sf of net clear area.

                I have refinished basements with a permit, with just the little 35" x 18" windows, and not been required to upsize to current egress requirements. Not sure at what point in a remodel you would have to do that here, maybe when the layout of the bedrooms change?

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                • #9
                  Re: Basement egress - remodeling

                  In the areas I work once it becomes a habitable space we have to put the window, well and ladder in it. If the basement does not have one aready, go to get a permit for a basement build out, if you haven't figured it, you will be explaining why you need to add the cost for the window installed.

                  Tom
                  http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

                  Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Basement egress - remodeling

                    Originally posted by tjbnwi View Post
                    once it becomes a habitable space we have to put the window, well and ladder in it.
                    Tom, the basement in question was habitable by any definition since the house was built in 1950. It is not proposed to add any room or subdivide other than the half bath. There are no individual rooms, just a general purpose area and a mechanical/laundry area.

                    It is clear and consistent that new construction and finishing of a previously unfinished basement require egress. It is not clear nor consistent what other specific events trigger the requirement. Does changing the carpet require egress? Drop ceiling? Storage shelving?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Basement egress - remodeling

                      Originally posted by dgbldr View Post

                      It is clear and consistent that new construction and finishing of a previously unfinished basement require egress. It is not clear nor consistent what other specific events trigger the requirement. Does changing the carpet require egress? Drop ceiling? Storage shelving?
                      It appears applying for a permit to add a half bath triggered the requirement to add egress. Carpet, drop ceilings, and storage shelving don't require permits here.
                      Richie Poor

                      See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, value engineer your unit prices.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Basement egress - remodeling

                        No, actually nobody applied for anything. The HO, a smart one, called anonymously and described what he intends to have done, and asked point blank if egress would be required.

                        None of the work proposed requires a building permit here either, except electrical and plumbing. In theory I can build that bathroom without a permit, then pull electrical and plumbing permits for those specific tasks. At that point I could say I'm just adding electrical and plumbing to an existing room.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Basement egress - remodeling

                          Then of course, there was one job I had last summer, for an egress window retrofit in a basement that appeared to be finished at the time of construction, 1960.

                          I applied for the egress window permit, and was called back by the plan reviewer. He informed me that the city showed that basement as unfinished, and if they were to come to inspect for the egress window, they would redtag the structure until the owner brought basement into compliance. This would include removing all sheetrock and upgrading the electrical/plumbing to current code.

                          Owner just bought the house as a rental, and bought it as having a finished basement. County had been charging taxes on the property since day one, as having a finished basement with 3/4 bath. City said that doesn't matter, they never inspected it, so it doesn't qualify as finished. We ended up withdrawing our permit request.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Basement egress - remodeling

                            Being a life safety issue, any inquiry may trigger the egress. Like retro fitting CO and smoke detectors.

                            Items involved in your work require a permit. You know you need a permit for the bath.

                            Tom
                            http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

                            Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Basement egress - remodeling

                              Originally posted by tjbnwi View Post
                              Being a life safety issue, any inquiry may trigger the egress.
                              Tom
                              Yes, that's the point of my thread. It MAY. As Jim Eggert said, it seems some building departments are legislating without a license. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other, but the inconsistency in applying the same code is bothersome. I was curious if this is just local to me, apparently not.

                              By the way, Jim, with all due respect, you're wrong at least in my area. Of all the basements I've done, exactly zero have had a bedroom, either before or after. About 50% have a full bath (shower), including my own. I think I've only seen two basement bedrooms in my life and one was a walkout. Might be different in other regions.

                              Regardless, we don't allow cops to arrest people for standing in front of a bank. Either they robbed it or they didn't. It doesn't matter that the cop thinks some day they MIGHT rob the bank :)

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