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Thread: What is a story?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
    Mar 2002
    Upper left edge

    What is a story?

    I have been tasked with drafting an ordinance provision limiting single family dwellings in a certain area to no more than two stories in height. The problems I am running into relate to basements and attics. I think I can handle the basement issue by allowing no more than certain percentage of the exterior walls of the basement to be above grade. Areas under the roof gables are a more thorny issue. Does anyone know of a good example of dealing with attic space so that it isn't a de facto third story? Basement provisions also would be welcome.

    For some of our overseas friends, I am referring to storeys.

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    Here is our definition (for Story and Story, Half):

    3.2-200 Story. That portion of a building included between the surface of any floor and the surface of the floor next above it, or if there be no floor above it, then the space between the floor and the ceiling next above it. Any portion of a story exceeding fourteen feet in height shall be considered as an additional story for each fourteen or fraction thereof.

    3.2-201 Story, Half. A half story is that portion of a building under a gable, hip or mansard roof, the wall plates of which, on at least two opposite exterior walls, are not more than four and one-half feet above the finished floor of such story. In the case of one-family dwellings, two-family dwellings and multiple-family dwellings less than three stories in height, a half story in a sloping roof shall not be counted as a story for the purposes of this code. In the case of multiple family dwellings three or more stories in height, a half story shall be counted as a story.

    Our code allows for maximum 2-1/2 stories and 25 feet tall.

    That half story definition may help you in your defining a story.

    Also, for good measure, our definition of Basement:

    3.2-23 Basement. A story having part, but not more than one-half its height below grade. A basement subdivided and used for dwelling purposes other than by a janitor employed on the premises is counted as a story for the purpose of height regulation.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
    Aug 2008
    Comer, GA

    what is a story?

    If your requirement has to relate to a dwelling you have to, IMHO, differentiate between habitable and non-habitable space when defining a story. IRC should help.

    Ceiling heights and exits come into play.

  4. #4
    I deal with this frequently. Here is what we use:

    Basement: A portion of a building, partly underground, which has more than one-half of its height measured from finished floor to finished ceiling above the average grade of the adjoining ground, and not deemed a story unless the ceiling is six feet or more above the average grade. (To calculate, you would measure around all sides)
    Story: That portion of a building included between the surface of any floor and the surface of the next floor directly above it, or if there is no floor above it, then the space between such floor and ceiling next above it.

    We also limit "attic" space (here we have a 2 1/2 story limit for single family residential) to less than 50% of the floor space below. Therefore, a house can have a basement, as long as it meets the basement definition, two full stories, and up to a "half" attic. Where the ceiling is low, like unfinished attic space in the eaves, that does not count towards livable space, but if they were to go to finish an attic space, the 50% rule would come into play.

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