Ceiling Height for Basement Bedrooms from 7′ to 6′ 4″
For decades, the Minnesota building code said that all habitable rooms (both above and below ground) needed to have a ceiling height of 7′. Unfortunately, many homes built before 1960 did not follow that standard, making it just about impossible to add a bedroom in the basement of most of the homes in Minneapolis. Effective January 2015, the Minnesota building code has been changed to allow habitable rooms in existing homes to have a ceiling height of 6′ 4″. Huge difference!
Here is the exact language of the code changes:
R305.2.1 Minimum ceiling height, existing buildings. Alterations to existing basements or portions thereof shall have a ceiling height of not less than 6 feet 4 inches (1931 mm), including beams, girders, ducts, or other obstructions.
R305.2.1.1 Bathroom plumbing fixture clearance. Bathrooms shall have a minimum ceiling height of 6 feet 4 inches (1931 mm) at the center of the front clearance area for water closets, bidets, or sink. A shower or tub equipped with a showerhead shall have a minimum ceiling height of 6 feet 4 inches above a minimum area 30 inches (762 mm) by 30 inches (762 mm) at the wall where the showerhead is placed. The ceiling may have slopes or soffits that do not infringe on the height required for the plumbing fixture.
R305.2.2 Minimum stairway headroom, existing buildings. Alterations to existing basement stairways shall have a minimum headroom in all parts of the stairway no less than 6 feet 4 inches (1931 mm) measured vertically from the sloped line adjoining the tread nosing or from the floor surface of the landing or platform on that portion of the stairway.
Exceptions: Where the nosings of treads at the side of a flight extend under the edge of a floor opening through which the stair passes, the floor opening shall be allowed to project horizontally into the required headroom a maximum of 4¾” inches (121 mm).
This change will make it easier for landlords to add that basement bedroom or at least be able to market and existing space as a bedroom. Remember that all other items related to egress windows and square footage requirements still apply.