Define a Bedroom

I did an inspection about two weeks ago on a cape cod home claimed to be built in the 50’s. I suspect the home was built in the 20’s based on visual evidence of the floor joist lumber and remnants of Knob & Tube wiring. The home had a center stairwell to the old “attic” space that was converted at some point after the home was built to two “bedrooms”. The home had a GFA furnace.

The room on the right had a window to the exterior, heat duct, closet, receptacles, door, and a light switch.

The room on the left had a window to the exterior, light switch, knee wall storage, door, receptacles, and NO heat source.

I mentioned in my report that according to industry standards, the room on the left may not be considered a bedroom as there was no source of heat. Note: I don’t care if there is a closet or not as many homes built at the turn of the century did not have closets.

This statement caused much grief. My client nor the selling agent noticed there was no heat in the left bedroom. The city assessor was called and said it was a bedroom based on the records. A previous assessor from the neighboring city was called and said it wasn’t.

Just wondering if there is a source that anyone may know of regarding the definition of a bedroom besides being a room larger than 90 square feet. I’m just interested in the facts and how to word the report or just say, “Heat Source: Not Present” and leave it like that.

Bedroom means those areas within a residential dwelling which have the potential to be utilized as a sleeping area on a consistent basis. To be deemed a bedroom, the room must meet all of the following standards:

  1. Be a habitable or planned habitable space per Building Code requirements. Planned habitable spaces would include those areas which contain the appropriate “roughed-in” mechanicals, such as, heating ducts, hot water lines, or, plumbing waste lines, etc., but are not currently “finished” to meet Building Code requirements for habitable space.

  2. Provide privacy to the occupants.

  3. Full bathroom facilities (containing either a bathtub or shower) are conveniently located to the bedroom served. Convenience in this case means on the same floor as the bedroom or directly accessed from a stairway.

  4. Entry is from a common area, not through a room already deemed a bedroom.

This is according to CT. and it sounds about right

VA has a reference online that doesn’t allow me to copy or paster but if I paraphrase it says

I can’t copy and paste but in VA its 70 sq ft for one person, 50 for an additional person. Two points of egress and one must go to the exterior. The other may not go to anther bedroom or bathroom. In addition, it must meet all light, ventilation and ceiling height codes. It doesn’t mention anything about HVAC. That’s the definition supplied by VA. It’s less defined as Russell’s but as always Ymmv

REAL ESTATE 101 This is a series of articles that I’ve cooked up to describe the basic terms that appear in Real Estate transactions.

Recently, I had new ‘first time’ buyers that I took out on a tour to show properties… and I realized that most of the common terms that we take for granted are… well, unclear to most first time buyers!

Disclaimer: All of the stuff that follows is according to Washington State Real Estate law, rules, and practices and etc. Other states may have their own interpretation of this and similar terms. Right? Right.

So for this installment of Real Estate 101: What, exactly, is a ‘bedroom?’

The legal definition of a bedroom, for the purposes of Real Estate is simple: it is a room, attached to the main structure of a single-family home, that has two crucial features:

** It has a door that can be closed.**
** It has a closet.**

A Cape Cod cottage is a style of house originating in New England in the 17th century.


minimum sleeping room requirements

7’ ceiling min. = 70sqft
70 square feet min.
artificial light
emergency egress
heat source
natural light
not attached to garage
no egress thru other room
smokes in & out & CO if only unit present at this elevation

closet is not required

Robert, post a link to that Activerain thread. I know many WA state inspectors that are total idiots. This appearantly is one of them… or was this a Realtor that posted this bad info?

Thanks Jeff. Called away.Thanks.
The Bear and other will chime in.

Ontario Code.
• one bedroom shall have at least 9.8 m
of floor area where built in cabinets ar
not provided and 8.8 m
where built in
closets are provided
• minimum dimension is 2.7 m
• at least 5% of the floor area shall be
provided as unobstructed glazing
• natural ventilation must be provided

Thanks Jeffrey. I forgot to finish.
Different definitions per state if I an not mistaken.

Typically a bedroom has to have these features; a window, a closet, and a door. One of the windows cannot be more than 44" from the floor and must allow egress, 3’ x 5’ for example.
It use to be like that in my province.

You know what?

Don’t post opinions without the source link to back it up.

IRC 303.6 - Heat required in habitable room min 68F 3ft above the floor.

There is a specific mention in Wisconsin code to count the square footage when:
SPS 321.06 Ceiling height. All habitable rooms, kitchens, hallways, bathrooms and corridors shall have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet. Habitable rooms may have ceiling heights of less than 7 feet provided at least 50% of the room’s floor area has a ceiling height of at least 7 feet. Beams and girders or other projections shall not project more than 8 inches below the required ceiling height.

In the end it is not the HI job to determine if it is a bedroom.

You correctly pointed out the lack of a heating source for the room.

At that point your job should be done.

You have made your findings known and given your client valuable information on which to make his decision.

I see nothing to be gained in getting in the middle of a cat fight with an agent, seller, and 2 AHJs.

As Michael and David stated above. A habitable space requires a heat source - bedroom or not. I would not get into the debate if it is considered a bedroom or not. I would be interested to know how the house was listed on the RE Listing. Was it listed as a two bedroom? Did the seller and RE agent try to sell it as a two bedroom or a one bedroom? That might get them to stop in their tracks.

Side note: How is it listed with the Taxing Authority? Have taxes been paid on it for the extra bedroom? No? Hmmm, bet the Auditor would like to know that tid-bit of info… BEFORE the sale closes! Who will pay the fines??? :neutral:

Interesting. I’ve run into this in the past when evaluating a septic systems, it’s based on number of bedrooms in the home.
I’ve inspected many homes that exceed the bedrooms for the septic system and even had one Realtor tell me that they removed the closet bi-fold doors so it wouldn’t count for a bedroom, “it’s built in book shelves”… Ya right…

As far as heat goes I mention it but many older homes in my area never had heat on the second floor and still don’t.

Had a client loose a home because the seller wouldn’t add heat for the second floor and the bank wouldn’t finance it without it.

Out here in San Diego where the sun shines quite often, we have many homes with bedrooms that don’t have heat sources. In fact, most of the Craftsman homes built from the early 1940s to the mid-1960s have a wall heater in the hallway and that’s it. Makes it difficult to heat a room if it’s occupied by a teenager and the door is always closed.

I know homes, even here, have to have a heat source, but I actually have never heard of a heat source in a bedroom being the qualifier for whether or not it was a bedroom.

Our standards in my neck of the woods are emergency egress and closet.

I do not define Rooms…
I do report Unconditioned areas… (Not Living Space)…
Definition of a Room…
is best left to an Appraiser / Municipal Inspector…

Hey, Joe.

How do you tell people what room had an issue?

There are many “flip” houses in this area. They claim to be 5 bedroom houses, but three of the bedrooms are in the basement, have no easy egress or safety windows and for bungalows, usually have no heat or ventilation to attic bedrooms.

I always inform the client that the “bedrooms” are not “legal” and tell the listing agent (who listed the property) that they are in violation (fraud) of the state RE laws and I will be reporting them to the state and the local NAR authorities.

I can be such a buzz kill.

Nice work William, its really appreciable. I have purchased and living in a house with two rooms in basement. It was my first experience to live in a bedroom in basement and it was really tough. I always feel suffocation and feel like am in a jail.:frowning:

Ready to assemble cabinets

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The link is for advertisement.
Its kitchen equipment.