I've been helping a friend apartment hunt over the last few weeks (and kinda looking at possible future places for me as my lease comes up for renewal in a few months) and have been surprised at the number of basement units there are here.
Most of them have been fine and liveable, only being partially underground with separate doors and light wells to the outside.
However a few struck me as surprising and had me questioning if they are even legal.
The particular units I'm speaking of were in multi-family buildings (I think like 25ish units in each building).
These units were completely underground with absolutely no real windows and only a door to the outside hall way (which is of course, still underground so no light or anything). I say no real window because in each unit there are little tiny openings in the ceiling but they are by no means a point of egress. The ceilings are ~10 feet high so no way anyone could escape and the openings aren't actually windows but just small openings in the sidewalk above (the unit is actually under the sidewalk!)
Something like this: http://www.frenchfamilyassoc.com/FFA...s/image008.png
(not exactly but the closest I could find).
Architecturally, it seems pretty neat, especially now that I'm searching the history of these sidewalk vaults as they are called, but they do not seem particularly livable.
Obviously I'm not a expert on building code but I just don't see how that could be legal. There's only one exit in case of emergency (the front door), but what if that door is inaccessible? What about ventilation?
Obviously this will depend on location (this is in Virginia [Richmond region to be exact], but does anyone have an idea if this is legal or not.
It's a fairly large company that runs this building (and several others) so I'd have to think they'd know if it were legal or not and wouldn't risk illegal apartments.