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Is a basement in a 1950's built house with a finished

Customer Question
Is a basement in...

Is a basement in a 1950's built house with a finished recreation room, bathroom with shower considered living space as it pertains to International Building Code? If so is an emergency egress by door or window required or is the lack of one grandfathered in?

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have been taken so far? Has any paperwork been prepared or filed?

No. We recently bought the place and want to update and fix the issues in the basement bathroom. We just are wondering how code will look at it. Also, this is a transitional home. We plan to be there about 2 years then sell and move to bigger place.

Lawyer's Assistant: Where is the house located?

Town of Union, Broome County, NY

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I don't think so.

Submitted: 26 days ago.Category: Real Estate Law
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Answered in 1 hour by:
3/25/2018
Real Estate Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 26 days ago
Attorney Wendy
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 491
Experience: Member at Keefer & Keefer LLC
Verified

Hello. My name is ***** ***** I am an attorney. Existing structures need not be brought up to code on a regular basis. It is only when renovations are being done that changes the structure that the need to bring the space or building "up to code" is generally required. In most situations, the type of renovation or repair that would require this would also be one that requires a building permit from your local building official. If the basement already had a finished recreation room and bathroom, one question would be when was that space finished and the basement added and was the egress requirement in place in the ICC's code in place at that time. In other words, if the space was finished up to the then existing code, you may be okay. The real issue will be whether the upgrades or repairs you will be doing will be considered substantial changes such that the space must be fully code compliant upon completion. Your local building official should be able to answer that question.

If code compliance is required, a recreation room is considered a living space under the code. Any habitable space used for living, sleeping, cooking or eating must comply and ICC advisors have repeatedly deemed recreation rooms as living spaces. A finished basement with a rec room and single bathroom would need one emergency egress, which could be a window egress and that emergency egress should be in the actual living space (the rec room) and not the bathroom. There are minimum size requirements for such a window egress and several companies actually sell pre-fabbed windows with all the necessary egress pieces and accessories (e.g., ladder). Some of those companies include Bilco and Boman Kemp.

I wish I could give you a definitive answer whether your planned repairs will trigger the need to ensure this code requirement is kept, but different building officials interpret the requirement differently; so it always best to speak with your local building officials prior to starting any project to determine the need for permits and code compliance. Though many homeowners opt to undertake such repairs or renovations on their own, once you go to resell your home, a buyer or buyer's agent may pull permits to determine if any updates were done properly; so it has always been my opinion to do it right from the start.

I hope this is helpful. If you need further assistance, please reply to this email. If I answered your question and provided excellent service, I would greatly appreciate your 5 star rating at this time.

Please note: This information is ​for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No course of action is being proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege has been formed as a result of this conversation.

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Attorney Wendy, Lawyer
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