I'm finishing the basement of a triplex condo in Chicago (townhouse style with a shared entry/common space with one unit). The developer didn't consider a future finished basement when it was it was converted to condos 20 years ago so there are conduit and pipes running under the joists.

Due to the low ceiling and the fact there would be soffits littered all over the ceiling, I plan on spraying the ceiling black (it actually looks surprisingly good). Before I do it, I want to make sure Chicago allows open joists in a living space.

There is fire resistant drywall on the ceiling near the water heater and furnace that will remain. Also, the new bathroom will have a finished ceiling. Joists have 16" spacing. The work is permitted so there will be a final inspection. Thanks!

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Unfortunately, local building code questions are off topic here. – Daniel Griscom Feb 13 '19 at 19:08
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about local building code. – Daniel Griscom Feb 13 '19 at 19:08

Most 1 and 2 family units are non-rated construction. Triplexes (3 living units) and up require fire sprinklers, fire party walls, etc. (See ICC Chapter 3)

There are exceptions where the structure is built within the “setbacks” and the walls and portions of the floor, ceilings, roofs require fire rated construction.

In your case, due to the proximity of the 3 units to each other, I’d guess you’d need fire walls (and doors, openings, etc.) between units, but not ceilings.

If you have a Building Permit, I’d call your Building Department and give them your Permit number and ask if ceilings are required. They are there to help and don’t want a redo either.

  • +1 for the last bit. Ask your building department/inspector. They are you make the final call and I’m my experience are willing to answer this sort of question so you do it right the first time. – auujay Feb 14 '19 at 0:41

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