I have a 1927 house that is built on a hill such that the basement walks out level with side yard and the sub-basement originally had a door that walked out the back yard with two steps down to ground level

floor above the sub-basement has been lowered such that the ceiling height is only 6'2". The original door and windows were removed and filled with cinder blocks.

I would like to open the door opening back up and put in a short steel door, but it would be substantially less than 6'since there is a substantial threshold and a ledger board at the ceiling.

The other less desirable possibility would be to put a window in the old door opening. Is there code requirements or any other reasons I could not put a very short door in the old opening?

If the door were out-swing, could I just let the top of the door overlap with the ledger board?

Thank you in advance for any advice you have.

  • You essentially have a crawl space there, and not habitable space. I doubt there are any applicable door height requirements. They probably wouldn't apply anyway since this is an old home.
    – isherwood
    Jun 17, 2020 at 18:54
  • 1
    Even though it is an old house, wouldn't changes need to be to current standards? if I open the door and maybe the windows, which have been blocked too, am I changing it's status as a crawl space? Jun 17, 2020 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


The Code requires a minimum ceiling height of 7’-0” for habitable spaces, unless 1) it’s a slopped ceiling, 2) basement remodel, 3) bathroom or shower. (See ICC R304.1)

  1. Slopped ceilings shall have at least 50% with at least 7’ and slope down to no more than 5’.

  2. Basements can have 6’-8” ceilings in non-habitable spaces.

  3. Not more than 75% of a sloped ceiling in a bathroom can be less than 7’ if a space in front of toilet, sink, shower is 6’-4” high.

Summary: Your 6’-2” ceiling height is not acceptable for habitable space. Therefore, the space is considered a crawl space and the “access” needs to be a minimum of 18” x 24”. ((See ICC 1209.1)

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