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14 January 2013


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I like your idea of bliss.


I like your idea of bliss too!

But I am moderately scandalized that you can't finish part of your basement without breaking city law. Good grief, why waste time and money on having such a law??


I agree with GeekLady: you can't finish your own basement?! Makes me wonder if we broke any laws when we finished off our back porch (we live in NC). Anyway, another reason why I do not like big government.

Anyway... I love your weekend and bliss and beer and boardgames and waffles and relaxing and just all of it.


There is a city limit on the ratio of finished square footage to lot size. When we finished out our attic, we hit the maximum. Our house is new construction (2006) in an old neighborhood (the houses on either side are about a hundred years older).


Let me join the folks who are astounded that it is illegal for you to finish your basement. What kind of absurdity is that?

"There's something wonderfully decadent about feeling just bad enough to justify spending the day in bed, and it's truly a luxury to be able to afford it -- because of a background of good health and another adult in the family who can take over for a couple of days."

The key phrase in here is a couple of days. During the first trimester--who am I kidding? the first half-- of pregnancy, this is me, face-planted on the couch, barely tolerating the smell of food in the house. It gets really old after the first couple of days. :)

I'm now past the halfway points and things are looking up!


How many square feet are you allowed to have finished? I live in the same city and didn't know it existed. I think our house tops yours in finished square feet and no problem from the city even with us in the process of selling. I don't get it.


It might just be for new construction, or it might be that your lot is bigger. Bigger lots are apparently allowed to have more finished square feet.

Melanie B

I so agree about being just sick enough to stay in bed with another adult around to help. I'm there now. Not feeling terrible but needing to keep my feet up and not do too much.It does feel rather like a vacation.


Here is the deal with the zoning, since everyone is curious. Our lot is zoned R1A which means a minimum lot size of 5000 square feet and a minimum floor area ratio of 0.5. The lot is nonconforming, only 4800 square feet, the same size as all the other lots in the neighborhood, because their size was created before the minimum lot size went into effect. Nonconforming properties are not an issue for selling, there are so many properties in Mpls that were made nonconforming by amendments to the zoning code. They are an issue for new building permits. You have to get a variance from the city to pull a permit for creating anything that is new that will not conform to the zoning code. We had to do that in 2005 when we split our lot from 9600 square feet to 4800 square feet -- even though all the neighboring lots are also 4800 square feet we had to get a variance to create two new lots < 5000 square feet each.

We do not have a variance for the minimum floor area ratio. In R1A no new multi family dwellings can be built (even though the neighborhood is full of duplexes) and no new construction, including remodels, can have a habitable floor area > 0.5 (lot area). So our home is limited to 2400 square feet habitable space, even though many pre-existing homes don't conform to this and can legally be sold with no trouble.

In the past few years the rules were stringently tightened up for awarding variances. If we were trying to split our old double lot today, we probably would not be allowed to, and building the house we own would not be possible.

Obviously it is possible to finish the basement on our own without pulling a permit and coming to the city's attention. But it isn't legal.


I bet the zoning is an attempt to stop the building of McMansions on tiny lots in high density areas. That happens a lot around here in the high rent district. A smallish lot with a smallish house and some yard becomes HOUSE. But still, you should be allowed to finish your own basement. It isn't like you are expanding your footprint.


Well, the way they stop the McMansion building is by limiting the total square footage. (yes, there are also house footprint limitations written into the zoning, and setback limitations)

By limiting the total square footage they prevent the building of McMansions by adding multiple stories or digging down to create multilevel basements.


I just think it's cool you get a basement at, finished or not! They're a rarity in the desert southwest.


Your weekend sounds so heavenly. I too love any good reason to lay in bed. :)


Several times this week I wish I could turn back the clock to the moment right after I turned off my alarm on Saturday, and just relive the four or five minutes right... before... I... went... back... to... sleep.

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