Builders Corner

Steve Holder


The following is a list of 10 things you may want to consider when designing your basement layout for new habitable space:

  1. Permit Requirements: A building permit is required when finishing a basement. A floor plan with dimensions, showing the layout of the entire basement is required. Label the use of all areas and rooms. Show electrical outlets, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, lighting, fans, plumbing, furnace and water heater.
  2. Ceiling Heights: If the finished ceiling height is less than seven feet, please consult your local Building Department.
  3. Emergency Escapes: All basements and sleeping rooms must have an emergency escape window or exterior door meeting the requirements of the code.
  4. Smoke Detectors: Smoke detectors are required in all basements. If the finished basement contains a sleeping room, a smoke detector must be installed in the sleeping room and in the immediate vicinity outside the sleeping room. Newly-installed smoke detectors must be hard-wired with battery backup and interconnected with existing smoke detectors.
  5. Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Carbon monoxide alarms are required on each floor with bedrooms. They are recommended to be located no farther than 15 feet from any bedroom entrance.
  6. Bedrooms: Adding bedrooms requires notification to DeKalb County Watershed Management.
  7. Insulation: All exterior walls are required to be R-13 insulated. This includes poured concrete walls.
  8. Space Under Stairs: If access to the area under the basement stairs is provided for storage or other uses, the walls and ceiling of this enclosed space must be protected on the inside with ½ inch gypsum board.
  9. Bathrooms: Toilets must be provided with a minimum of 21 inches in front of the toilet and 15 inches from the center of the toilet to any sidewall or other obstruction. An exhaust fan is required in toilet rooms and bathrooms with inoperable windows. The fan must be vented to the exterior of the building and not terminate within three feet of any opening.
  10. Structural Modifications: On your floor plan identify modifications to the existing structure such as posts, beams and floor joists. Supply any engineered stamped drawings for any engineered lumber components (i.e. I-joists, laminated beams, etc.).

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