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What Qualifies As A Bedroom? Know Before You Buy Or Sell

Sidney Richardson4-minute read

September 22, 2021

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When you think of a bedroom, you probably think of a room with a bed in it – maybe with an added window or closet. But what actually makes a bedroom a bedroom?

While you can technically sleep anywhere in a house, there are actually requirements that dictate what rooms can formally be referred to as “bedrooms” when assessing a home. Let’s explore what makes a bedroom different from the other rooms in your house – and why it matters.

What Counts As A Bedroom In Real Estate? 6 Defining Factors

To begin, let’s talk about why it even matters whether a room in your house is officially a bedroom or not. Bedrooms are a major selling point for homes – an additional bedroom can add thousands of dollars of value to a house. That said, if you’re buying a three-bedroom home, you would probably be very disappointed to find that one of the bedrooms was actually just a closet under the staircase.

There are national and local building codes in place to make sure homes aren’t being sold with falsely advertised bedrooms – and also to make sure that the bedrooms that do exist are safe to live and sleep in. Let’s look at a few of the specific requirements a room might need to meet in order to be considered a “real” bedroom.

Size

The International Residential Code (IRC) includes requirements for room size that bedrooms must adhere to. Room codes and regulations may vary a little from state to state, but for the most part, bedrooms follow these guidelines.

For a room to count as a true bedroom, it must have at least 70 square feet of floor space with a minimum of 7 feet in one direction. If a room is intended for multiple occupants, there should be a minimum of 50 square feet per person.

Methods Of Egress

Besides the entrance to the room in the house, a bedroom must also contain at least one method of egress – which is an emergency exit. If a bedroom does not contain a door that opens to outside the house, it must contain a window that is at least 24 inches tall and 20 inches wide and has a minimum opening area of 5.7 square feet. This window must also be no more than 44 inches from the room’s floor unless there is a step or other permanent installation that allows easy access to the window. Windows also must typically open at least halfway.

Ceiling Height

A low ceiling may also disqualify a room from being considered a true bedroom. Some states require that at least half of the ceiling in a bedroom must be a minimum of 7 feet tall.

Closet Space

Most states actually do not require bedrooms to have built-in closets. Some local markets may not consider a room a bedroom without a closet, however, so it’s important to know the local code in your area. Technically by national standards, however, a room does not need a closet to be a bedroom.

Doors 

A bedroom must be accessible from at least one common point in the house such as a hallway or living room. In most cases, a room cannot be considered a bedroom if it is only accessible through another bedroom in the home. 

Fire Alarms 

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of a home, including the basement, and should also be installed near and within each sleeping area or bedroom in a home, according to the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. The absence of a smoke alarm in a bedroom won’t disqualify it from being a true bedroom, especially if the room is in an older home, but it is a good thing to install in a room for safety reasons as soon as possible.

What Qualifies As A Bedroom In A Basement?

The same regulations that apply to regular bedrooms still hold true with bedrooms located in home basements as well. That means it can sometimes be difficult for basement rooms to qualify as true bedrooms because at least one method of egress that leads directly outdoors is required. The requirement for a window to be no more than 44 inches from the floor can be bypassed in a basement room by using a permanent ladder, but if there are no windows at all, it can’t be called a bedroom.

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Tips For Turning Extra Space Into Bedrooms

If you’re looking to convert extra space in your home into a spare bedroom, make sure that it meets all the above requirements as well as any local regulations in your area. Remember that room restrictions don’t always mean that a room has to be built with the intention of becoming a bedroom for it to qualify as one – sometimes, you can get creative.

An attic can make a perfectly acceptable bedroom as long as it meets ceiling height requirements and has an acceptable window. A former living room or den is also often a good candidate for a bedroom, since it likely has methods of egress and other requirements already.

If you’re struggling with how to divide up space for a new bedroom, remember that you can utilize room dividers or other large sheet-like objects like pegboard, too. As long as the room as a whole connects to a hallway and has appropriate methods of egress, it shouldn’t matter much how you decide to divide or alter the layout within.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re buying a home, selling it or just curious, it’s important to know what counts as a true bedroom to avoid confusion. If you’re thinking of adding a bedroom to your home, be sure to research the bedroom requirements in your state to make sure your addition complies with national and local codes.

If you’re ready to buy or sell a home, you can get started with Rocket Mortgage® today, and for more information and resources about home buying, check out our Learning Center.

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Sidney Richardson

Sidney Richardson is an intern writer covering homeownership, mortgage and lifestyle topics. She is a senior at Oakland University pursuing a degree in journalism and advertising.