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New building code drops minimum ceiling heights for residential uses

2019 1104 Ideas Post
Nov 04, 2019

This is one of many articles describing changes between the current Chicago building code, and the updated building code that becomes optional on December 1, 2019, and mandatory on August 1, 2020. 

The modernized Chicago building code reduces the minimum ceiling height in residential units. This will have a big impact on existing residential buildings. By reducing the minimum ceiling height from 7'-6" to 7'-0", it may be possible for more people to convert basements and attics to accessory dwelling units (ADU), and have shorter height additions to expand the area of a home. In bathrooms and laundry rooms, the minimum ceiling height is further reduced, to 6'-8".

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New minimum ceiling height standards.

The building code allows a further reduction in the minimum ceiling height of basements to 6'-4" to accommodate ducts, beams, girders, and similar vertical projections.

The minimum ceiling height for non-residential spaces and spaces outside dwelling units remains at 7'-6". In occupancies that aren't Group R (residential) there's a reduced ceiling height of 7'-0" in bathrooms, kitchens, storage, and laundry rooms, and spaces above and below a mezzanine.

These standards are defined in Section 1207.2. As of mid-October, the fully updated Chicago construction codes were hosted on the International Code Council website.