Requirements for a Legal Bedroom

Nov 10 2009

The House Detective:  by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: I am looking for the legal definition of a bedroom. I bought a house that was listed as a four-bedroom home. Two bedrooms are in the remodeled attic, with short, doorless alcoves for closets. And I’m not sure if these rooms are large enough to qualify as bedrooms. Can you help me to figure this out?  Christine

Dear Christine: Here are the basic requirements for a bedroom:
1)  A bedroom must be at least 70 square feet in area, with no dimension less than 7 feet.
2)  The ceiling must be at least 7 feet high above the finished floor. If the ceiling is sloped, 50% of it can be less than 7 feet, but no part of it should be less than 5 feet.
3)   There must be an openable window for light, ventilation, and fire escape. For light, the window size must be at least 8% of the floor area. For ventilation, the openable portion of the window must be at least 4% of the floor area. For fire escape, the window must be at least 5.7 square feet in area. The opening must have a minimum height of 24 inches, a minimum width of 20 inches, and a maximum sill height of 44 inches. (Note: There are additional window requirements for basement bedrooms, but this was discussed in previous articles.)
4)  Contrary to popular belief, no closet is required in a bedroom.

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Questions regarding home inspection please email Barry Stone at questions@housedetective.com

2 Comments

  1. what about a door? i looked round a house that was listed as three bedrooms but the third bedroom was a dining room with an archway but no door- is that a legal bedroom?

  2. [...] Requirements for a legal bedroom | house detective: making [...]

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Barry Stone

Barry StoneKnown today as "America's House Detective," Barry advises readers from coast to coast about home inspection and real estate disclosure, providing honest clarity, fresh wit, consumer protection, and even-handed fairness in his responses to real estate questions. Read more.

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