Hi I bought a house with a finished basement done 3 decades ago. It is set up as an apartment but was not done with permit. It was not laid out well and has no exit other than up the stairs to main level. I would like to use the recreation room space which is large and make into a bed room and sitting area for visiting guests. There is a washroom as well and the other rooms finished have no windows and would be storage or den. The laundry room and furnace room is separated from the rest of the apartment space. How do I go about making a bedroom/sitting room space safe in the basement.
You should figure out where you can place a window. Just simply to make things safe this
window should be a Egress window , check with your local Municipal Office on the exact minimum size you require. depending how deep your basement is, you may require a special
window well as well. If you intend on ever renting this space out legally , you will require a lot more changes. To put this window in you will require a building permit.
Ann, Safety is the primary concern. The codes require that there be a second (or more) exit in case of emergencies. This strictly applies to bedrooms where windows are required. The window must be egress type ... that means they must be sized to accommodate a persons exit without restrictions. If it, the window, is below ground level, you'll require a window well ... again, large enough to allow for a full body to exit. The window can have security bars, but they must be able to either be removed or swung out of the way in the event of an emergency. It is well worth the effort and expense to have it done correctly and will also provide a selling feature, should you decide to sell in the future.
As others have said the 1st thing is a bedroom egress window - must have a minimum opening of 15" in height and width and 3.75 ft2 in unobstructed area. Will also require an interconnected smoke alarm and properly placed electrical receptacles (with arc-fault breaker) and adequate head room.
If the entire basement development was previously completed without permits it may be necessary to pull permits and bring it up to current Code. If your intention is to make a legal basement suite there are many more requirements beginning with development approval.
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