You have decided to rent out your basement to generate some extra income to help with living expenses? As you prepare your basement for renters, make sure you follow all the legal requirements to make it into an apartment. Here are some tips to help you ready your basement apartment's heating system and make sure it has the appropriate ceiling height.

Heating System

As you convert your basement into a rental apartment, you need to make sure the basement has a heating system in place. If your basement space is already connected onto your home's heating system, you don't need to add any additional heating system. But if your basement is not heated, you can add on to your home's heating, depending on its type, or add a separate heating system for the basement. 

An HVAC professional can tell you how best you can add onto your home's existing heating system and the costs of each system to provide heat for your tenants. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), you are required to provide direct or indirect heating to each room to provide a healthy living environment appropriate for the climate you are in. Also, you need to provide heating to keep the temperature above 68 degrees F three feet above the floor and two feet from exterior walls in all livable rooms of the apartment.

If your home is currently heated by baseboard heating in each room, you can continue this system in your basement apartment by installing a heating unit in each room. According to HUD, baseboard heating is an acceptable unvented form of heating when it is electrical and not heated with kerosene, oil, or gas. Having a separate heating system for your basement apartment can be a beneficial option. It will allow your renters to set their heating to a temperature comfortable for them. This can also help you avoid any disagreements in the home's heat setting as the entire home's temperature will not be set by one thermostat. For more information, contact a business such as Controlled Comfort.

Ceiling Height

The height of your basement apartment's ceiling can determine if your basement apartment feels cramped or open and airy and if it meets basement building requirements. According to the International Residential Code, your basement needs to have a ceiling height of at least seven feet in all rooms, except in the bathroom, which needs to be a minimum height of six feet. If any bedrooms have a sloped ceiling, at least one-third of the room's floor area has to meet the seven-foot ceiling height requirement.

There are some exceptions to this rule with variances in ceiling height: if you have any structural beams or girders visible in the ceiling or if you have any ventilation or plumbing systems that are lower than the surrounding ceiling. These structures that lower the ceiling height can not be within four feet of one another and cannot protrude from the ceiling by more than six inches.

When your basement meets the ceiling height requirements, you won't need to excavate the basement floor to create more space. But you can use materials to finish your basement ceiling to make the space look less like a basement—for example, if you finish the ceiling with drywall instead of ceiling tiles or paneling. These types of patterned ceiling materials can place focus on your ceiling, drawing attention to your ceiling height. Using drywall for the ceiling gives the ceiling a smooth finish that won't draw the attention of your renters and can make the ceiling feel higher than it actually is.

If your basement does not meet the seven-foot requirement, you will need to excavate out your basement floor to allow for seven feet between the floor and ceiling. Then, as you are digging out the basement floor, you can make the ceiling height higher than the seven-foot minimum, giving your basement an airy and open feel. A higher ceiling can be attractive to potential renters. 

Use this information to help you prepare your basement apartment for your new renters.