To fix low ceilings in a basement, homeowners can typically either lift the whole house or dig the basement down. While building codes vary, most basements need ceiling heights of at least 7 feet. Consult with a building inspector and contractor before beginning work to ensure all codes are met.
Some other important items to consider when finishing a basement are emergency exits, ductwork and light fixtures.
If the basement is going to accommodate a bedroom or other livable space, it needs a full-size window or door to provide an emergency exit. Windows that are below grade require a dug-out egress that is large enough to accommodate a person. Codes vary, but windows typically need to be no higher than 44 inches above the floor.
Low-hanging ducts are also a contributing factor to low ceiling heights, as they can drop ceilings below the required 7 feet. During the planning stage, consult with the contractor to determine if the ducts can run in a wall inside of a soffit to save some ceiling height.
Hanging light fixtures can pose a problem in rooms with low ceilings, so an alternative route would be to use recessed lighting as much as possible to keep the ceilings clear and as tall as possible. The best route in determining how to solve low ceilings in a basements is to meet with a licensed contractor to discuss the specific requirements and challenges for the job.