Code Implications of adding one wall to unfinished basement

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

Post Reply
User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3367
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

Code Implications of adding one wall to unfinished basement

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Mon May 20, 2013 4:07 pm

Hey,

There's this 3 Stooges sketch from way back where one of the stooges is trying to open one of those outdoor cellar doors that are almost horizontal, but he's standing on it, so it won't open. I think I do a lot of that when it comes to projects. I'm trying to figure out how to get a room built in my basement, but there's so much stuff metaphorically and physically in my way.

So, it hit me the other day that I could get a shitload of benefit from a fairly simple and cheap step. If I just built a wall completely across my basement, I could separate my music area from the washer/drier and the water heater (that comes on randomly and makes a ton of noise) and the stairs up to the house. It would also buy me privacy and freedom from distractions when people pop into the basement for whatever reason.

But, someday I hope to go beyond this and build another wall that would "T" into this wall I'm talking about, and do the rest of the finishing to create a "real" music room, with treatment and all that. It's just that I can't do that right now for a bunch of reasons. So, does anyone know what else I'd have to do to add a wall across my basement? Like, I'd fill it with insulation and put some outlets in [on] it, and it would have a solid, exterior-class door in it, but the space on either side of it would still be completely unfinished, no ceiling, no insulation or drywall around the perimeter. I'm thinking of going "staggered studs" at least for the section of it that will one day be a wall of the finished studio. I keep thinking I'm not really allowed to do that, that if I start "finishing" the basement I need to create at least one space that's "up to code" with egress and insulation and wiring and permits and inspections and all that.

How do I find out the rules for running a single wall across my otherwise unfinished basement? This is Oregon, if that makes a diff. Is there any legit way to do this on the cheap and easy?

Thanks,

A Stooge
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

User avatar
roscoenyc
george martin
Posts: 1362
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:56 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by roscoenyc » Mon May 20, 2013 6:12 pm

"What's he building in there"?

Just do it.
It's a basement.

User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3367
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Tue May 21, 2013 1:53 am

1) I'd like to know what the rules are before (if) I break them.
2) When it's all done there's going to be a laundry room, office, music room and a bathroom down there. I'm feeling like I'll need to get that stuff inspected and approved so that my insurance will cover me if something goes wrong, resale value of the house, etc.

I know I can build the wall and either pay for the inspection with the other stuff down the road or maybe they'll grandfather it in, but I'm just wondering if there's any 100% legit way to do exactly what I want and nothing I don't want.
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

User avatar
Marc Alan Goodman
george martin
Posts: 1400
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by Marc Alan Goodman » Tue May 21, 2013 6:52 am

Call your states department of buildings and ask. There's no easy way to look that kinda stuff up.

If it's anything like NYC (which I certainly hope it isn't) they still won't give you a straight answer. In Brooklyn if you have a question like that which isn't clearly covered in any of the statutes they won't let you know their ruling until AFTER they inspect it. Which means you build it, then they decide if it was legal or not, and if they decide it's not they expect you to tear the thing out or pay some ludicrous fines.

But in Portland you may get somebody nice and or helpful on the phone.

User avatar
JWL
deaf.
Posts: 1869
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:37 pm
Location: Maine
Contact:

Post by JWL » Tue May 21, 2013 6:40 pm

Marc Alan Goodman wrote:Call your states department of buildings and ask. There's no easy way to look that kinda stuff up.
This. If you can, get your local code enforcement officer on the phone and ask them.

If it is a residence and you do this without a permit then you may never get caught. But if you are running a commercial facility, do it by the book.

hyphen nation
audio school
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2003 12:41 am
Location: sunny PDX

Post by hyphen nation » Wed May 22, 2013 12:09 am

doing something similar in my basement in portland. I wanted electrical work done, and done by the book, so I had it inspected. Used a contractor for that as I wanted to no hassle. The inspection took no time, and was done.

You should just call someone down at the City, or call a contractor you trust. There are plenty of rules about egress but there is also plenty of wiggle room. If my memory is serving me right, what you are describing is fine, as long as a person can easily get out of a room. It's when it's intended to be a bedroom that it gets tricky, and egress rules become a big deal.

User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3367
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Wed May 22, 2013 12:27 am

Thanks for the advice. I'll make a call. Maybe from a pay phone. If I can find one.

ck
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

User avatar
Marc Alan Goodman
george martin
Posts: 1400
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by Marc Alan Goodman » Wed May 22, 2013 7:15 am

If you're worried that anyone at the department of buildings cares enough to write down your phone number and put it in some sort of non-existant computer database so they can bust you later you've been eating too many of the local mushrooms.

User avatar
Jeff White
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3257
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 6:15 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Contact:

Post by Jeff White » Wed May 22, 2013 7:56 am

Marc Alan Goodman wrote:If you're worried that anyone at the department of buildings cares enough to write down your phone number and put it in some sort of non-existant computer database so they can bust you later you've been eating too many of the local mushrooms.
Those PDX mushrooms are very colourful.
I record, mix, and master in my home studio, Ch?teau Blanco, and in various spaces in the Philly area. http://jeffwhiteaudio.com/

User avatar
tubetapexfmr
steve albini likes it
Posts: 304
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:39 pm
Location: Vacuum

Post by tubetapexfmr » Sat May 25, 2013 2:08 pm

Dear god, FUCK the "rules". Regulate this, enforce that, blah, blah, blah. Read up on and worry only about HOW to build it right rather than what some dickless bureaucrat thinks about it.

User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3367
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sat May 25, 2013 2:45 pm

Ugh. Dude. I understand the sentiment. In fact, after the last work I did, the inspection process made me vow never to bother with permits again. But, now that the pain of that has faded, I'm worried about the ramifications of not getting it inspected. Like I said, I'm going to wind up with 4 rooms in the basement, one of which will be a bathroom. I'm not a contractor or an engineer, so, something could conceivably go wrong either during, immediately after or 20 years down the road. I simply can't have some "dickless bureaucrat" at the insurance company deny a claim later because I cut a corner here or there. I spent a few too many dollars on this house for that.

I must say, my call to the city didn't make me that eager to do this though. I was supposed to leave a message and they'd call me back in 24-48 hours and the sitting around, waiting for the city commences.

The last job, I had an inspection scheduled and I woke up at 8AM so that I wouldn't miss it. I was awake, dressed and have 2 dogs and I missed his visit. He didn't call first like they usually do to confirm. He didn't ring the freakin' doorbell because "sometimes they don't work." (I got this excuse when I complained to the next guy.) But he made it up to the porch and left a note that he couldn't reach me. I had actually fixed the doorbell during working on the house specifically so I wouldn't miss any visitors like workers or inspectors. Bizarre and aggravating. A waste of my tax and permit dollars and my time. But they have a monopoly.
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

User avatar
JWL
deaf.
Posts: 1869
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:37 pm
Location: Maine
Contact:

Post by JWL » Sat May 25, 2013 9:06 pm

tubetapexfmr wrote:Dear god, FUCK the "rules". Regulate this, enforce that, blah, blah, blah. Read up on and worry only about HOW to build it right rather than what some dickless bureaucrat thinks about it.
While I appreciate this sentiment (I lean toward being an anarchist at heart), unfortunately building it correctly means, in part, complying with code. This is crucial if you are a professional, commercial operation, many of the reasons for which are outlined above by Snarl.....

User avatar
goose134
pushin' record
Posts: 230
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:45 pm

Post by goose134 » Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:31 pm

There are many, many references online for National Electric Code (NEC). As far as how many rooms you are carving out, as long as you're not creating a new occupancy (say an in law apartment), it is moot. Of course you should check on codes. But as has been mentioned, build it right. Overbuild it, even. And more than likely you'll hit every code pretty square.
I make a living as an electrician, not recording in the basement.

User avatar
fossiltooth
carpal tunnel
Posts: 1734
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 3:03 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Contact:

Post by fossiltooth » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:35 pm

JWL wrote:
tubetapexfmr wrote:Dear god, FUCK the "rules". Regulate this, enforce that, blah, blah, blah. Read up on and worry only about HOW to build it right rather than what some dickless bureaucrat thinks about it.
While I appreciate this sentiment (I lean toward being an anarchist at heart), unfortunately building it correctly means, in part, complying with code. This is crucial if you are a professional, commercial operation, many of the reasons for which are outlined above by Snarl.....
Very true. I mean, I'm as obsessed with honest to goodness freedom as the next guy. But this talk of "Damn gubberment, trying to regulate the structural integrity of our buildings!!" Well, I just can't get behind that.

Building collapses and fires from which there was no escape... These used to be actual things that happened with some regularity. (And not just from a safe distance on the evening news every now and then.)

Bureaucracy can be a real nuisance, and it should be streamlined whenever possible. But on the whole? Yes, we're much better off with decent building code than without. No question. If given the choice, I definitely prefer a little inconvenient bureaucracy to what's been happening in Bangladesh recently.

User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3367
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:31 pm

Honestly, I was just going to build it, but a small section of "Build It Like the Pros" put the fear of god in me. He talks about how just building a wall across a basement can lead (and I guess he's implying that he knows of a particular instance) to an entire building collapsing because the floor joists above the wall couldn't flex as designed, or something. It made me realize that I don't really know how much I don't know.

After my experiences with home inspections I have absolutely zero faith that getting it inspected will improve the quality of the work or my house, but I want my ass covered with the insurance co. if something unanticipated goes horribly wrong.

BTW-just for the record, this is not for any sort of commercial facility whatsoever.
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests