DIY Basement Finishing: Make Sure You Know the Codes

Posted on April 23, 2012 | in Thoughts | by

Richard thought he was smart to finish his basement himself – until it came time to sell his house.

“I guess the moral to the story is: Don’t cut corners.”

Richard’s talking about the finished basement of his Reading, Pa. home.

basement remodel“My buddies and I did it about five years ago,” he explains. “My wife and I had been talking about finishing the basement for a while, so we bought what we needed from the hardware store and got cracking.”

And for a project fueled by six packs of beer and how-to articles found on Google, Richard and his friends did a pretty impressive job. The basement looks great – right down to the recessed lighting and faux wood panels.

“But what I didn’t know,” Richard warns, “is that you need building permits to finish your basement.”

Due to fire safety hazards, national building codes require that finished basements have a means of egress – specifically, a fire escape or egress window wells to let people escape the basement in the event of an emergency.

Richard hadn’t put those in – and when it came to sell the home, that was a problem.

“The realtor took one look at the basement and told us we were in trouble,” he says. “If you don’t have a CO – a certificate of occupancy – you basically can’t sell your home. We’d either have to do the job properly, or take a big hit on the house price so the new buyer could do it themselves.”

In the end, Richard decided to do it himself – but, unlike the first time, get a professional to help.

“Ironically, the buddy who’d helped finish the basement the first time was then working as a contractor; so he was able to give me the guidance I needed.”

Richard bought the egress window wells he needed and installed them according to code – and after a little bit of paperwork hassle, managed to finally get the CO he desperately needed.

for sale by owner“I learned an important lesson,” he warns. “If you’re selling your house and have a remodeled basement, make sure you stick to the building codes. It could cost you big further down the line.”

TAGS: , , , ,

2 Responses to “DIY Basement Finishing: Make Sure You Know the Codes”

  1. Pingback: Purchasing home with finished basement that has no egress? - Calvert County, Charles County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County - Page 2 - City-Data Forum

  2. esmondperry says:

    Thanks for sharing…!!!

    Hope that we will get more from you in next post….!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe Now!

About Me

Hi, I'm Jeff. I will be using this space to share my thoughts and opinions that I have accumulated over many years in the building industry. My hope is to also teach and inspire.

This will also be a location for important industry news and product information. Featured items and sales can also be found here. Subscribe, or check back often to keep up to date on what is happening in the world of Egress Windows.

I welcome comments on any of the posts and I would love to get suggestions from you for topics you would like to learn about in upcoming posts.

Jeff Ommundsen
(229) 234-7377
President of Shop Egress Windows, Inc.