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BCA ceiling heights for habitable rooms

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  1. #1
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    Default BCA ceiling heights for habitable rooms

    Hi,
    We recently bought a 35-40 year old house in North Rocks. We get the keys at the end of October. The layout of the house is currently as follows:

    Bottom floor:
    Garage, Rumpus room, study and massive store room

    Top floor: Three bedrooms, bathroom, laundry, kitchen and lounge room

    Prior to settlement we were measuring the rooms downstairs and if I recall correctly the floor to ceiling height was somewhere around 2360-2380mm. These measurements were in the rumpus and the study. From what I've read on this forum and trying to look at the BCA specifications, a habitable room is supposed to have a floor to ceiling height of 2400mm. The ceiling downstairs at the moment is wood panelling, the floor of the top floor is floorboards which are being supported by joists to which the wood panelled ceiling downstairs is attached to.

    Does anybody have any ideas what can be done to rectify the missing 40mm or so? What if the wood panelled ceiling was removed and we had the floorboards from the top floor as the ceiling, obviously that would give more than 2400mm clearance to the bottom of the floorboards, but it would be very close to 2400mm to the bottom of the joists. Does the 2/3 rule apply in this scenario or is that only in attics?

  2. #2
    Senior Member atregent's Avatar
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    Attics are actually a little less, 2.2m for at least 2/3 of the floor area, other habitable rooms are 2.4m for at least 2/3 for rooms that have sloping ceilings or projections below the ceiling line. I guess exposed rafters would count as projections below the ceiling line.

    Hope that helps
    Cheers,
    Anthony

  3. #3
    It never ends..
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    I've done quite a bit of reading on this very matter up here in QLD and from what I can see, removing the ceiling could be a goer but I haven't tested that theory.

    The main thing I came to realise was that you can apply for a relaxation of the height and with yours I think you'd probably get it. I read a blokes submissions to Brosbane City Council in trying to get a ceiling of ~2150mm approved but he was knocked back due to the lack of smoke volume that can accumulate in a room (for satisfactory smoke detector operation) and that seemed to be his major stumbling block. As I recall there was no other reason cited in that case.

    Contact your council and ask the question - nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    Not a sparky, not a plumber, not a tiler, not a carpenter, not a painter, not a cabinet maker, not a locksmith, not a concreter and not a landscaper.... but I'll have a crack

  4. #4
    1K Club Member Pulse's Avatar
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    Why do you need the the room to be "habitable" are you putting plans into council or turning it into units? otherwise it doesn't matter in practical terms

    Pulse

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pulse View Post
    Why do you need the the room to be "habitable" are you putting plans into council or turning it into units? otherwise it doesn't matter in practical terms

    Pulse
    We're just considering changing the layout downstairs a bit and that would involve getting a doorway cut through a double brick interior wall. Not sure what needs to go to coucil and what doesn't.

  6. #6
    1K Club Member Pulse's Avatar
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    If it doesn't go to council, it doesn't matter if its 40mm short, oh unless you are 2.38m tall..

    cheers
    Pulse

  7. #7
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    Does anybody know if the 2400mm floor to ceiling rules still apply if the house was constructed in the early 70s and has been used as a habitable room but is only 2360mm?

  8. #8
    1K Club Member Pulse's Avatar
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    thats my point, the 2400mm BCA rule only applies to a new renovation or change of use. ie you want to build a council approved granny flat downstairs, I'm still not sure why the 40mm worries you? If you walked around in a 2400mm room and a 2360mm room you wouldn't notice a difference. Therefore it only becomes an issue if an inspector measures it..


    cheers
    Pulse

  9. #9
    Old Chippy - 4K Club Member
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    The issue is as Pulse says - the BCA applies for new houses and additions - the ceiling heights for habitable rooms are not imposed on existing residences that were approved at another time.

    If the house is approved as built ie: the rumpus and other rooms downstairs appear on the approved council plans, (and since you recently bought the house your building inspection report [and lawyer] should have made sure of that) then there is no issue.

    The bigger issue is to make sure that the door through that double brick wall is done properly as it is probably load bearing. Not a big deal - just needs to have a suitable steel lintel inserted and the bricks below can be removed and the door framed up.

    If the door is all you are doing then just do it. If you are making major structural alterations to walls supporting the building above you'll need some engineering advice.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the replies guys.

  11. #11
    2 kids, no time Wildman's Avatar
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    AFAIK, what happens under the roof line stays under the roofline. "It was like that when we moved in Mr Inspector, even that staircase through my living room floor". Unless you are developing to sell it, I would not be concerned. If you are doing things beyond your capabilities but are staying in the house, you only have yourself to blame when it falls on you. If you are selling and doing something dodgy, you will be liable.
    My glue tastes funny.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildman View Post
    AFAIK, what happens under the roof line stays under the roofline. "It was like that when we moved in Mr Inspector, even that staircase through my living room floor". Unless you are developing to sell it, I would not be concerned. If you are doing things beyond your capabilities but are staying in the house, you only have yourself to blame when it falls on you. If you are selling and doing something dodgy, you will be liable.
    No, we're not planning on doing any of the work ourselves, apart from stuff like painting. The plan is that this house is going to be our long term house and it will be at least 15 to 20 years before we considering moving again.


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