Basement Buildout Policy

Buildings 2005-07-06


Creates guidelines to follow when households decide to finish their basements.


Unit owners may finish or otherwise remodel their basements within the existing building envelope as they see fit, subject to the following limitations, which are intended to protect the Association and neighboring units from damage and inconvenience. Members are reminded that Association fees may be adjusted to reflect changes in the Association's maintenance and replacement costs.

Code Compliance

All modifications to the unit must meet local building codes. In particular, cutting or other modifications to walls, joists, beams, and removal or repositioning of support columns must be approved by a certified building engineer or other appropriate professional.

Unit owners must secure all building permits and inspections required by local ordinances, and are responsible for their costs. Such inspections may include structural, electrical, plumbing and HVAC/hot water/gas, depending on the scope of remodeling.

All units have various fresh air intakes and exhaust venting for furnaces and water heaters. There are specific code requirements for the placement of this venting and it should not be modified or moved without attention to these requirements. In particular, B units are restricted in where the vents can go because of the narrow width of the unit.

In addition to the above, any remodeling that involves any changes to the outside envelope (e.g. doors, windows, concrete walls) of the building also requires special approval from the Association. Owners may, however, alter floors to change the standard bathroom stubbing and plumbing; special permission is not required unless the walls are affected.

Shared Infrastructure

Basement remodeling must be designed and built to allow continued access to infrastructure that is shared with other units in the building. Such infrastructure includes but is not limited to gas lines, electric power feeds from outside the building, phone and computer network feeds from outside the building, water supply and shutoff valves to hose bibs, and fire suppression equipment (see below). If your unit has a sump pump installed, it must remain properly connected and powered at all times, as it serves the entire building, not just your unit.

Owners who elect to permanently enclose such infrastructure agree that the Association will not be liable to repair damage to the basement interior should the association need access to the infrastructure for maintanance or repair.

All costs to restore the interior to the desired condition after such maintenance or repair will be paid by the unit owner.

Fire Suppression

Fire suppression sprinkler heads may not be removed or obstructed. They may be enclosed by certain types of ceiling panels, if the type used is acceptable under local building codes. For solid ceilings, heads must be repositioned to meet code at the unit owner's expense.

Each interior basement wall between units has a double-thickness drywall fire barrier on one side. If the drywall barrier is on your side of the wall, you must be sure that any breaches in the barrier are properly fire-stopped with code-compliant materials and techniques.

The fire suppression base station in units 4, 7, 13, 16, 20, 24, and 34 may not be permanently enclosed unless some means of access to the various valves, etc. is provided. The enclosure must allow rapid access without the use of tools, and must not interfere with or prevent the operation of the equipment inside. Buildings will develop guidelines (see GO website)for enclosures.

Basement Windows

If basement windows and/or doors are removed to provide access to contractors, the Association will secure or approve a contractor and/or process for reinstalling the window, and will be responsible for subsequent maintenance of the window. This is to ensure that the Association will receive warranty protection from the contractor for the work, and will be aware of any maintenance requirements peculiar to the installation. Owners should contact the Buildings Maintenance Coordinator two weeks in advance of the date they will begin construction to obtain a list of approved contractors.

Window well gravel beds must remain clear (i.e. not clogged with mud, concrete or other debris) in order to ensure proper drainage for the building. Contractors and/or owners are responsible for keeping or restoring the gravel to its proper state after the completion of construction, or may pay the Association to clean up the well.

The provisions of this proposal apply retroactively to all basement remodeling work done at Great Oak since move-in.

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