Q. Do you have a definition of a bedroom in the Dwelling Code? I’m currently building a house which has a specific room dedicated as a exercise/weight room. The inspector is calling it a bedroom and requiring me to install smoke alarms and an egress window. This room is not a bedroom and I feel it’s wrong for the inspector to insist on these requirements. Doesn’t a bedroom have to have a closet or something like that? This room doesn’t have a closet and has a lot of special wiring done to accommodate the exercise equipment, which should make it obvious we plan on using it for a exercise/weight room.
A. The Dwelling Code does not define bedroom, so we need to go to the dictionary for a definition. The definition in the dictionary is; "**bed-room: **a room furnished with a bed and intended primarily for sleeping."
It is not uncommon for someone to submit a set of plans which has an extra room designated as a den, office, weight room, library, etc. The primary use in these rooms is not intended for sleeping. However some contractors and/or homeowners may designate a room as a den or office to circumvent the local SDC’s (System Development Charges) or septic tank requirements or sometimes the original owner may use this room as it was designated on the plans, but the next owner has a larger family or their mother-law living with them and they end up using the “den” as a bedroom. The cost of smoke detection and appropriate egress windows is small compare to the cost of a human life, therefore it may be advantageous for the local jurisdiction to require these safety provisions, but the homeowner/contractor should be given the benefit of the doubt for the purpose of the SDC’s. It is inappropriate for a jurisdiction to tell a homeowner/contractor how each room of their home will be used or classified. There are many times when it is obvious the room in question is not a bedroom, i.e. no closets, a door leading to the outside to be used as a office entrance, wall of shelving for library use, special provisions for exercise equipment, etc. These rooms need to be treated as designate on the plans, not based on speculated future use. If, however, this room had a closet in it and the only distinguishing difference is that it’s called a “den” on the plan, then the requirements for smoke detectors and egress windows would be appropriate.
I found this in the Oregon Salem Newsletter a whole long time ago. I think it has to do with Oregon interpretation.