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Old 2018-04-10, 02:27 PM
primrose2 primrose2 is offline
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Default Ceiling Heights in an unfinished basement

Single Detached home

Issue: Unfinished Basement height under beams and ducts


During frame walk in the basement I noticed that the HVAC ducts are below the beam, the height from the floor to the HVAC duct is below 6ft. When we finish the basement that height will reduce further to 5 ft or less. As a health and safety matter, the Ontario Building Code regulates a minimum ceiling height in the basement. From what I read in the building code, the minimum height under beams and ducts is 1950 mm (6.397638 Feet).

When I approached the builder with my observation, I was told that the minimum height does not apply to unfinished basement. Please help me with this issue.

Does the building code for ceiling Heights apply to unfinished basement ?


Reference: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/120332

9.5.3.1. Ceiling Heights of Rooms or Spaces
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File Type: jpg Ceiling height basement.jpg (8.3 KB, 52 views)

Last edited by primrose2; 2018-04-10 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 2018-04-10, 05:25 PM
BartBandy BartBandy is offline
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Not that I'm aware. If you plan on finishing it, plan around the low ducts. Or get them moved later.
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Old 2018-04-10, 07:12 PM
primrose2 primrose2 is offline
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I had paid for recreation room ready for the basement, shouldn't the builder follow the building code to ensure that the room is according to the code ?
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Old 2018-04-10, 09:21 PM
BartBandy BartBandy is offline
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Are we talking about a location in the middle of an open area, or right next to the furnace?

Ducts often have to pass under at least one beam, somewhere. My supply air goes from the plenum to a duct that is routed under a beam 3' away, then into a rectangular duct tight to the underside of the joists. I built a wall just beyond where the duct passes under the beam. That duct is now part of the furnace room, which is open to the workshop with only the walls finished.

If they dropped a duct in the middle of an open area that could be expected to become living space, they've been jerks to you. I don't know what "recreation room ready for the basement" means, but I'm thinking you think you're getting an unfinished space with sufficient height for finishing. But you generally have to plan your basement around low ducts.
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Old 2018-04-11, 07:38 PM
primrose2 primrose2 is offline
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It's in the middle of the basement.
Rec room ready means, the builder will have rough ins for washroom and laundry, window height is adjusted accordingly. The area is ready to be finished in future.

My first concern is safety, the ducts are low and could injure someone on the head by the sharp edges of the aluminium ducts.

My second concern is getting basement permit from the city when it's time to finish the basement. City will not provide permit if the ceiling is not according to the Ontario building code.
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Old 2018-04-11, 09:15 PM
BartBandy BartBandy is offline
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Sounds like the tinbangers didn't really think things through. Or maybe there was no good alternative. I've seen the same house model ducted completely differently depending on the crew.

Talk to your builder. See why it was done like that, and try to get them to change it. Be nice, and maybe they do it without any further actions.
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Old 2018-04-15, 01:23 PM
Halton Home Inspector Halton Home Inspector is offline
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Builders are not responsible to follow ceiling height codes in unfinished basements.

BUT,, if some ducts are very low where you can hit your head then they usually put in a small wall to pass occupancy.

Finishing a basement properly always requires HVAC work but then again, most basements are not finished properly.

Bulkheads are a fact of life unless you have a very high ceiling. The key is to plan the basement so that the bulkheads do not look out of place.
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