Basement Finishing & Remodeling

It's important for contractors and homeowners to understand the minimum code requirements fora  basement finish project, as well as obtaining required permits and inspections.

These pages highlight code requirements and should not be considered a complete list of code requirements. Structural modifications, such as relocation of support columns, relocation of bearing walls, or reframing floor joists are not within the scope of these pages. A registered design professional should be hired to provide review and design services for structural projects.

Building Permits and Permit Requirements


A permit is required to finish or remodel a basement that involves construction of walls, installation or extension of electrical circuits, plumbing drains or vents, or ductwork.

Exempt Work

Repair and maintenance work, such as, carpeting, painting, wall paper, receptacle replacement, fixture replacement (sinks, stools, lighting fixtures), vanities and cabinetry do not require a permit.


Overland Park allows homeowners to obtain permits to do work in a house they own and occupy. If the homeowner is hiring a contractor to do the work, the contractor is required to be licensed with Johnson County. Licensing assures that contractors have met the minimum requirements for code knowledge, and maintain workman’s compensation and general liability insurance. Code deficiencies or failure to complete the work in compliance with code requirements is the responsibility of the person who obtained the permit. For additional contractor licensing information contact Johnson County


This information is based on the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) and accepted engineering and construction practices.

Required Documents

  • Completed permit application (please contact a Permit Services Representative at 913-895-6205 if you have fee questions or would like a copy of the application sent to you.)Basement Diagram
  • Construction Plans: A sample plan has been provided showing the minimum information necessary on the plans. Plans shall be drawn to a scale (1/4-inch or 1/8-inch equals 1-foot is preferred).


Inspections at various stages of the work are required as the work progresses. The project is not considered complete until a satisfactory final inspection has been obtained. When the final inspection is approved the permit is closed and the space can be occupied.

Inspections are generally required as follows:

  • Under slab - plumbing – Where under-floor piping is installed, a plumbing under-slab inspection is required after the under-floor piping is installed and prior to filling the trench and replacing the floor.
  • Rough-in – This inspection is done before any wiring, plumbing piping, or mechanical ducts in walls and ceilings is covered with insulation, sheet rock, paneling, etc. All piping, ductwork, sub-panels, wiring, junction boxes, and outlet boxes shall be installed. Do not install switches or receptacles.
  • Insulation – This is inspected after insulation is installed and prior to installing drywall.
  • Sheetrock – This inspection is performed after all sheetrock is installed and prior to painting. An inspection for cement, fiber cement, glass mat around tubs and showers shall be requested. Make sure access to valves, junction boxes, etc., remain accessible.
  • Final – This inspection is scheduled when insulation, sheetrock, doors, and all fixtures, receptacles and devices have been installed so the space is ready to occupy and use. Cosmetic items that are not regulated by the building code, such as trim, painting, and other finish work, do not have to be completed to obtain the final inspection.

Existing construction that may not meet the current code

Sometimes homeowners question what might happen if the building inspector comes for an inspection, and notices something that does not comply with the building code. “Will I be required to change everything that the inspector finds wrong, even if it is not part of the basement remodeling project?” The building code addresses remodeling existing buildings under Additions, alterations or repairs in the IRC manual.

Planning your basement remodeling project

It is important to consider code requirements when planning your basement remodeling project. Some of the more common issues to consider are listed below. Please be aware that this is not a comprehensive list.

Furnace & Water Heater

The furnace and water heater must be provided with access that would allow the equipment to be replaced, or to be serviced. The manufacturer’s instructions will include required clearances on all sides of the equipment, and other important details that may impact how much space must be maintained around the equipment. Do not plan to build walls that will reduce this required space. Further, gas furnaces and water heaters in concealed areas are required to be supplied with combustion air.

Space for repair work

Many components of a house require access for servicing and replacement. Your plans should take into account that this access will be provided. The main water shutoff, the drain valve, and the electrical grounding connection to the water line must remain accessible. All electrical junction boxes, floor drains, cleanout fittings, backwater valves, gas line unions, and valves for water and gas lines are required to remain accessible.

Electric Panels

Electric panels are not allowed within closets or bathrooms. A required working clearance of at least 30” wide and 36’ deep in front of the panels must be provided. The panels should remain accessible so that the cover can be removed and accessed for future wiring needs or repair and maintenance.


Plumbing fixture drain lines are required to be sloped not less than ¼ inch per foot for 2 1/2 inch or less drain lines, and not less than 1/8 inch per foot for 3 inch and larger drain lines. Be sure to consider the distance your drain lines must travel, and the elevation of the drain line you want to tie into, when planning the location of your plumbing fixtures.


New bedrooms are required to have direct access to the exterior by way of a properly sized window or door. Take advantage of existing doors or compliant windows when planning your room layouts.