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I have an unfinished basement and am looking into creating an office down there as my current office space in the loft is looking to be turned into a fourth bedroom. Can I wall off and create an office room (lit, heated, finish floor, finish walls, finish carpentry, as if it was any other room in the house) while leaving the rest of the basement unfinished? Or must the entirety of the basement have work done to it (subfloor, framing, etc) in order to create a single room down there?

Will the proposed office room legally classify as a "living space", and will I be bound by building code for its construction?

Thanks.

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  • This is really a question for your local AHJ as there is no general answer.
    – jwh20
    Jul 16 '21 at 19:24
  • it's my understanding that you need a bed to make a bedroom and all it's code rules. A couch could count; they don't want someone waking up to a burning house and being trapped. You're just storing a desk in your basement.
    – dandavis
    Jul 17 '21 at 7:55
  • While any couch could be used temporarily as a bed, I would argue that a couch designed as a bed - e.g., one that opens up - would logically count as a bed even if most of the time used just as a couch, because clearly it is designed to host occasional guests. But an ordinary couch? That's a bit of a stretch. People fall asleep in comfy chairs too. Jul 21 '21 at 13:59
  • "In the real estate world, a space can be considered a bedroom if it has a door that can be closed, a window, and a closet." - no closet, no bedroom, provided the AHJ agrees.
    – Mazura
    Nov 20 '21 at 4:24
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You will be bound by building code - e.g., minimum number and location of electrical receptacles, minimum size of doorway, etc. But definitely not a problem finishing only part of the basement. That is actually quite common - no reason to spend money making finished space if it is going to be used for storage, workshop, laundry room, etc.

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Yes, the room would be classified as a “habitable space” and the remainder of the basement would remain classified as “storage space”.

Habitable space requires a ceiling height of 7’-0” , except in a basement it can be 6’-8”. If it’s a space that you might sleep in (if a couch is in the room) then you need an “egress window”. Egress windows shall be a minimum of 5.7 square feet, except “grade floor “ spaces shall have 5.0 square feet. In addition the floor area must be a minimum of 70 square feet with a minimum dimension in one way of 7’.

( There is no requirement for door width. It’s what you’ll accept.)

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  • Does an ordinary couch really turn it into a sleeping room? I have a couch to watch TV. I also see plenty of couches in office waiting rooms. etc. But you may right as far as door widths - looks like only minimum is when used for egress. Jul 16 '21 at 22:10

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