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Is a Basement a Story?
September 7, 2006
7:50 am
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gvictor
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From 2003 IBC:

STORY. That portion of a building included between the upper surface of a floor and the upper surface of the floor or roof next above (also see ?Basement,? ?Mezzanine? and Section 502.1). It is measured as the vertical distance from top to top of two successive tiers of beams or finished floor surfaces and, for the topmost
story, from the top of the floor finish to the top of the ceiling joists or, where there is not a ceiling, to the top of the roof rafters.

2003 IBC Commentary on the definition above:

All levels in a building that conform to this description are stories, including basements. A mezzanine is considered part of the story in which it is located. See Chapter 5 for code requirements regarding limitations on the
number of stories in a building as a function of the type of construction. See Section 1617 for limits on story drift from earthquake effects.

September 7, 2006
6:06 am
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mpierce
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Thanks for the clarification. It?s the same way I interpreted the code.

The basement does meet the three criteria but the plan examiner says that a basement still counts as a story. Unfortunately, they are the type of person that rearly accepts any interpretation other than their own.

Thanks for your help.

Michael

September 7, 2006
5:32 am
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maniac
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BASEMENT. That portion of a building that is partly or completely below grade (see ?Story above grade plane? and Sections 502.1 and 1612.2).

A basement is a level within a building that has its floor surface below the adjoining ground level. Often due to grading conditions, a basement will also be considered as a story above grade, thereby contributing to the building height (see the commentary to the definition of ?Story above grade plane?).

STORY ABOVE GRADE PLANE. Any story having its finished floor surface entirely above grade plane, except that [b]a basement shall be considered as a story [/b]above grade plane where the finished surface of the floor above the basement is:
1. More than 6 feet (1829 mm) above grade plane;
2. More than 6 feet (1829 mm) above the finished ground level for more than 50 percent of the total building perimeter;
or
3. More than 12 feet (3658 mm) above the finished ground level at any point.
The determination of a story above grade is important because it contributes to the height of a building for the purpose of applying the allowable building height in stories from Tables 503 and 1018.2. Every story with the finished floor entirely above grade (finished ground level) is a story above grade; however, a story with any portion of the finished floor level below grade is by definition a basement, and must be evaluated in conformance to the three criteria for story above grade. These three criteria are intended to deal with unusual grading of ground adjacent to exterior walls. Without such a consideration, the resulting building height can be reduced because of a berm or other landscaping technique that may be artificially created to reduce the apparent building height. The specific criteria establish the point at which a basement extends far enough above ground that it contributes to the regulated height of the building in number of stories.

2003 INTERNATIONAL BUILDING CODE? COMMENTARY

September 11, 2006
7:33 am
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builderbob
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IBC Table 503.3 only regulates the number of stories above grade.

September 10, 2006
8:14 pm
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tjacobs
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Sounds like two stories above grade and one story below grade to me. Sounds OK.

Is the basement occupied and for what purpose? What is the problem?

September 8, 2006
8:19 am
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eprice
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I agree with what everyone is saying as far the intent of the IBC. Unfortunately, if the plans examiner wants to be hard nosed about it, a strict reading of the words of the IBC supports his position. The basement does meet the definition of a story. It may not meet the definition of a story above grade level depending upon exterior grade. 1005.2.2, item 1 should have used the term "fist story above grade level" rather than "first story" in order to convey the message that we all think was intended.

September 7, 2006
2:39 pm
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deangelis
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Pretty clear in the CBC/UBC. I sure hope the IBC get all cleaned up before 2008!

...at least no NFPA 5000 to deal with...

September 7, 2006
7:50 am
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gvictor
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From 2003 IBC:

STORY. That portion of a building included between the upper surface of a floor and the upper surface of the floor or roof next above (also see ?Basement,? ?Mezzanine? and Section 502.1). It is measured as the vertical distance from top to top of two successive tiers of beams or finished floor surfaces and, for the topmost
story, from the top of the floor finish to the top of the ceiling joists or, where there is not a ceiling, to the top of the roof rafters.

2003 IBC Commentary on the definition above:

All levels in a building that conform to this description are stories, including basements. A mezzanine is considered part of the story in which it is located. See Chapter 5 for code requirements regarding limitations on the
number of stories in a building as a function of the type of construction. See Section 1617 for limits on story drift from earthquake effects.

September 7, 2006
6:54 am
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harleyboy
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There was a successful code change last year G85-04/05 which shows up in the 2006 IBC. This change deleted the definition of "story" completely out of Chapter 5 and modified the one in Chapter 2. The definition in Chapter 2 now references Story Height definition out of Chapter 5. This was done to clarify problems such as the question above.

September 7, 2006
6:27 am
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peach!!
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have him look in the IBC commentary..

September 7, 2006
6:06 am
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mpierce
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sp_Print Print Post Post #11

Thanks for the clarification. It?s the same way I interpreted the code.

The basement does meet the three criteria but the plan examiner says that a basement still counts as a story. Unfortunately, they are the type of person that rearly accepts any interpretation other than their own.

Thanks for your help.

Michael

September 7, 2006
5:32 am
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maniac
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sp_Print Print Post Post #12

BASEMENT. That portion of a building that is partly or completely below grade (see ?Story above grade plane? and Sections 502.1 and 1612.2).

A basement is a level within a building that has its floor surface below the adjoining ground level. Often due to grading conditions, a basement will also be considered as a story above grade, thereby contributing to the building height (see the commentary to the definition of ?Story above grade plane?).

STORY ABOVE GRADE PLANE. Any story having its finished floor surface entirely above grade plane, except that [b]a basement shall be considered as a story [/b]above grade plane where the finished surface of the floor above the basement is:
1. More than 6 feet (1829 mm) above grade plane;
2. More than 6 feet (1829 mm) above the finished ground level for more than 50 percent of the total building perimeter;
or
3. More than 12 feet (3658 mm) above the finished ground level at any point.
The determination of a story above grade is important because it contributes to the height of a building for the purpose of applying the allowable building height in stories from Tables 503 and 1018.2. Every story with the finished floor entirely above grade (finished ground level) is a story above grade; however, a story with any portion of the finished floor level below grade is by definition a basement, and must be evaluated in conformance to the three criteria for story above grade. These three criteria are intended to deal with unusual grading of ground adjacent to exterior walls. Without such a consideration, the resulting building height can be reduced because of a berm or other landscaping technique that may be artificially created to reduce the apparent building height. The specific criteria establish the point at which a basement extends far enough above ground that it contributes to the regulated height of the building in number of stories.

2003 INTERNATIONAL BUILDING CODE? COMMENTARY

September 6, 2006
3:56 pm
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peach!!
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sp_Print Print Post Post #13

I agree with DeAngelis

September 6, 2006
1:53 pm
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deangelis
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sp_Print Print Post Post #14

A basement is not a story, but is it really a basement? Does it meet the requirements? Does your site slope? If so, it may not qualify.