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We are looking to finish out basement and one of the guys we brought in said we need to find out if we can get a permit for it, because our house was built in the 1950's the ceiling is 76" vs the current requirement of 86". I would assume we grandfather into that. Either way, I've scoured the internet and local government websites and cant find jack on regulations. Does anyone know where to look, or do they hold this so we have to pay them to come out?

This is for Quincy, MA.

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    Why not just call them up and ask them? Or send an email. I ask the county permit folks questions all the time. They are typically pretty glad to help. – mikeazo Jul 17 '17 at 12:09
  • Our government isn't a pleasure to deal with in MA. I tend to lean towards getting the answer on paper :) – Flibertyjibbet Jul 17 '17 at 12:10
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    No one here can really answer this question. It all depends on local code and what exceptions your jurisdiction allows. – Tyson Jul 17 '17 at 14:11
  • A more serious requirement, is that finished basements must have an emergency escape and rescue opening(s). So while you may be grandfathered in on the ceiling height, you're likely not grandfathered in on the emergency escape route. The only way to know what's required, is to contact the local government. – Tester101 Jul 17 '17 at 17:10
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    Quincy's building department seems pretty friendly, even offering clinics to help homeowners navigate the permit process. Try asking them. quincyma.gov/govt/depts/inspect/depts/building.htm – Shimon Rura Jul 17 '17 at 20:58
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Most codes are applied at the time of building/renovating, so it's possible that finishing the basement now would require it to be up to modern codes. However, it's possible that the local government may make an exception, and allow you to get away with at lower ceiling. Unfortunately, the only way to know if they'll allow it, is to contact them directly. Make sure you get it in writing, and file it away with important documents.

A more serious requirement, is that finished basements must have an emergency escape and rescue opening(s). So while you may be grandfathered in on the ceiling height, you're likely not grandfathered in on the emergency escape route.

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