Residential Construction Information

This information has been put together to help answer the most frequently asked questions about residential construction.

  1. A BASEMENT CANNOT BE USED FOR LIVING SPACE UNLESS IT HAS:
    1. A primary entrance/exit.
    2. An opening for emergency use that leads directly to the exterior, such as another door or window no higher than 4'6" off the finished floor, with 18" of clear opening and a 4 sq. ft. minimum total opening.
    3. A ceiling height of at least 7'6".
    4. One exterior wall the entire length of the habitable space, at or lower than the floor level of the space.
    5. NOTE: Recreation rooms are a different situation. Please visit the Building Department for your particular area.

  2. INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR STAIRS MUST HAVE:
    1. Minimum tread depth of 9" plus 1 1/8" nosing for closed riser stairs.
    2. Minimum tread depth of 9" for open riser stairs.
    3. Maximum riser height of 8 1/4 with no variation of more than 1/8 in any one run of stairs.
    4. Stair widths of not less than 2'6" between handrails.
    5. Minimum clear headroom of 6'6" (or 6'4" for cellar stairs).
    6. Handrails if more than three risers.
    7. Handrails on both sides if stairs are open on both sides.
    8. Railings, at least 30" high, on porches and balconies if 18" or more is off adjacent floor or grade.

  3. DOORS MUST BE:
    1. At least 36" wide for main entrance doors.
    2. At least 32" wide for other doors that exit the home.
    3. At least 6'8" in height.

  4. ALL HABITABLE SPACE (INCLUDES LIVING ROOMS, BEDROOMS, DINING ROOMS, AND SUCH) MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE EMERGENCY EXIT WHICH:
    1. Must be in addition to the main entrance/exit from the room.
    2. Must have a total of at least 5.7 sq. ft. of area.
    3. Must have at least 20" of total clear opening in width and height.
    4. Cannot be more than 3'6" off from the finished floor, and must lead to "Legal Open Space."

  5. SMOKE DETECTORS:
    1. At least one must be hardwired to a lighting circuit.
    2. Must be adjacent to any sleeping areas, on or near the ceiling.
    3. We suggest others be installed on every floor of the building.

  6. CHIMNEYS:
    1. Prefabricated chimneys must be installed according to manufacturer specifications.
    2. Masonry chimneys must have:
      1. Clean-outs with noncombustible doors sealed tight.
      2. Flues mortared with non-water soluble refractory cement.
    3. Must have a 2" minimum clearance to combustible interior, and 1" minimum clearance to combustible exterior.
    4. Chimneys must terminate at least 3' above the roof and at least 2' above anything within 10' of the chimney.
    5. NFPA 211 and TEK SPEC 3, must be followed.
    6. Plans and specifications for all solid fuel burning appliances and prefab chimneys must be submitted for review and approval by the Fire Code Inspector.

  7. FIRE SEPARATIONS:
    1. Garages attached to or within 5 feet of a structure must be separated from the dwelling by construction having a fire-resistance rating of at least 3/4 of an hour.
    2. Doors and jambs in the common wall must be at least three-fourths of an hour rated and equipped with a self-closing device. This door cannot open into a room used for sleeping.

  8. NATURAL GAS OR L.P GAS FURNACES AND WATER HEATERS:
    1. Must be installed to manufactures specifications and/or NFPA 54, THE FUEL GAS CODE.
    2. Be sure that there is adequate combustion air for the appliances. This is necessary in enclosed rooms as well as open cellars.
    3. If the appliance is located on a floor that has habitable space, then the door to the room must be self-closing and be protected with noncombustible material on the furnace side of the door.

  9. MISCELLANEOUS:
    1. Foundations must have anchor bolts, at least 6' o.c.
    2. Bathrooms without windows must have mechanical ventilation; vented to the exterior.
    3. Water distribution systems must be Type "L" copper.
    4. Waste piping underground and under concrete must be cast iron.
    5. Water heater and boiler relief valves must have a pipe extension to within 12" of the floor.
    6. Firestopping must be installed as per the attached sheets.
    7. Any opening in a bearing wall that is over six (6) feet, rough opening width must have double jack studs installed to support the header.