What is Not Classed as a Bedroom?

In the world of real estate, defining a room as a bedroom can change the value of a property. But it's essential to know that not every room can be classed as a bedroom. There are specific requirements, such as those set out by the International Residential Code, and local building codes that determine what is not classed as a bedroom.

In this article, you will learn:

What is Not Classed as a Bedroom?

Not all rooms qualify as bedrooms, especially when it comes to real estate. For a room to be classed as a bedroom, it has to meet certain legal requirements. For instance, in Washington DC, a bedroom must have a rescue opening, such as a window or door leading outside, for emergency escape. Without this, it can't be classed as a bedroom. Similarly, in New York, a legal bedroom must have at least one window.

In North Carolina, the rules are slightly different. Here, a room can't be considered a bedroom if it doesn't have a closet. In contrast, in the UK, there is no legal requirement for a bedroom to have a built-in closet. These varying regulations can make it quite challenging to understand what is not classed as a bedroom.

Besides the legal requirements, there are also practical aspects to consider. For example, a room used as a living room during the day can't be considered a bedroom, even if it's used for sleeping at night. Also, a basement bedroom might not always qualify as a bedroom if it doesn't meet specific requirements, such as ceiling height and emergency egress.

Room Size and Its Impact on Classification

Room size plays a significant role in determining whether a space can be classified as a bedroom. For instance, the International Residential Code stipulates that a bedroom must have a minimum floor area of 70 square feet. In Northern Virginia, a room must be at least 70 square feet, with no dimension less than 7 foot, to be considered a bedroom.

In the UK, there's no specific minimum size requirement for a bedroom in established homes. However, for new builds, the minimum bedroom size is 6.51 square metres for one person, or 10.22 square metres for two people.

Even if a room meets the minimum size requirement, if it doesn't have the required square footage for the number of occupants, it might not be classed as a bedroom. For instance, a room that's big enough for one person might not be suitable for two people.

Importance of Natural Light and Ventilation

Natural light and ventilation are crucial factors in determining whether a room can be classed as a bedroom. Most building codes, including the International Residential Code, require bedrooms to have a window for natural light, ventilation, and emergency escape.

In the UK, while there are no specific requirements for windows in bedrooms, it's generally considered essential for habitability. A room without a window is unlikely to be classed as a bedroom by estate agents or property valuers.

Similarly, in New York, a legal bedroom must have at least one window. The window must be of a certain size, usually 5.7 square feet, and be located no more than 44 inches above the floor.

The Role of Doorways and Privacy in Bedrooms

Finally, the presence of doorways and the level of privacy can also determine whether a room is a bedroom. Most building codes require a bedroom to have a doorway that can be opened and closed for privacy.

In the UK, a room is unlikely to be classed as a bedroom if it's a 'walk-through' room, that is, if you have to walk through it to reach another room. Similarly, a room without a door or with a partial door, like a curtain, might not be considered a bedroom.

In the US, the requirements can be more stringent. In Washington DC, for example, a bedroom must have at least two means of egress, which usually means a door and a window. The door doesn't have to lead directly outdoors but must provide access to the rest of the dwelling and the exit.

In summary, knowing what is not classed as a bedroom is crucial, especially in the real estate sector where the number of bedrooms can significantly impact a property's value. Not all rooms can be legally classed as bedrooms, and understanding the requirements can help homeowners, buyers, and sellers make informed decisions.

Evaluating the Benefits and Drawbacks of What is Not Classed as a Bedroom

The classification of a bedroom can have significant implications in real estate. Understanding what does not qualify as a bedroom can provide various advantages but also presents some disadvantages. In the following sections, we will explore the pros and cons of understanding what is not classed as a bedroom.

Pros of Understanding What is Not Classed as a Bedroom

  1. Improves Property Valuation Accuracy

    • Estate agents and property valuers can provide accurate property valuations.
    • Homeowners can avoid legal issues related to property misrepresentation.
  2. Enhances Property Sale Process

    • Sellers can present their property's features honestly and transparently.
    • Buyers can make informed decisions based on accurate bedroom counts.
  3. Facilitates Compliance with Building Codes

    • Homeowners can ensure renovations and new builds comply with building codes.
    • Avoidance of penalties and fines associated with non-compliance.
  4. Promotes Safety Standards

    • Awareness of requirements like egress windows promotes safety.
    • Homeowners can ensure their property meets emergency escape and rescue opening standards.
  5. Aids in Effective Space Utilisation

    • Homeowners can maximise the use of their property's square footage.
    • Allows for creative use of spaces that do not meet bedroom standards.

Cons of Understanding What is Not Classed as a Bedroom

  1. Potentially Lower Property Value

    • A property might have a lower value if a room cannot be legally classed as a bedroom.
    • This might affect the homeowner's return on investment, especially in high-value real estate markets like London or St Paul.
  2. Affects Property Marketing

    • Properties with fewer legal bedrooms might be less attractive to potential buyers.
    • This could prolong the property marketing and sale process.
  3. Limits Renovation Possibilities

    • Some rooms might not meet the requirements for a bedroom renovation due to issues like minimum ceiling height.
    • This can limit the homeowner's ability to add extra bedrooms.
  4. Requires In-depth Knowledge of Building Codes

    • Homeowners need to understand local building codes and International Residential Code requirements.
    • This can be time-consuming and complex, especially for older homes.
  5. May Increase Renovation Costs

    • Meeting bedroom requirements like adding an egress window or increasing square foot can increase renovation costs.
    • This might make some renovations impractical or unaffordable.

Building Code Standards for Bedrooms

Building code standards play a significant role in defining what constitutes a bedroom. These codes vary, but there are general rules that most regions follow. For instance, the minimum requirement for a bedroom's square footage, ceiling height, and window size are commonly found in building codes worldwide. In the UK, the requirement for ceiling height is often 8 feet, although this may differ in older homes or properties with a sloped ceiling.

Building codes also stipulate the necessity for an egress window in a bedroom. This window, often required to be 5.7 square feet, serves as an emergency escape route. A room without one is typically classed as an illegal bedroom or a non-conforming bedroom. Understanding these building code standards can be crucial during a home inspection, as they help ensure the safety and legality of a property.

The Role of Physical Features in Bedroom Classification

Physical features of a room, such as closet space and window presence, also factor into whether a space can be designated as a bedroom. In many regions, including parts of the US, a room must have a built-in closet to be officially counted as a bedroom. However, this is less of an issue in the UK, where there is no such requirement.

A bedroom window is another critical feature. As well as providing natural light, a window can serve as an emergency exit. In the UK, while there's no strict legal requirement for a bedroom to have a window, it is generally expected for habitability. Estate agents, such as Douglas Elliman, often highlight these features when marketing a property.

The Impact of Room Use on Bedroom Classification

How a room is used can also determine whether it's classed as a bedroom. For instance, if a room is used as a living room during the day and a bedroom at night, it may not officially count as a bedroom. This is true even if the room meets the other required standards, such as size and egress.

The designation of a room as an 'extra bedroom' can also have implications for property value and usage. For example, in a three-bedroom home, one room might be used as a home office but still classified as a bedroom. This versatility can increase the property's appeal to potential buyers. However, if the room doesn't meet the minimum requirements for habitable rooms, it may not be officially counted in the bedroom count, impacting the property's valuation.

Case Study: Bedroom Classification in an Older UK Home

To bring the topic of "What is not classed as a bedroom?" to life, let's consider a real-life scenario. This case study should help illustrate the practical implications of this topic in a context that many can relate to, particularly those dealing with older homes in the UK.

Imagine a homeowner, Mr Smith, living in a charming, older home in the heart of London. This property, with its high ceilings and spacious rooms, is filled with character and history. However, one of the rooms, a large space with a 7 ft ceiling, does not have a window.

Mr Smith has always used this room as a bedroom. It's a large room, offering plenty of bedroom space, and is separate from the rest of the living areas, providing privacy. However, when he decides to sell the property, the estate agent informs him that this room can't be officially listed as a bedroom. The lack of a window means it's classified as a non-conforming bedroom according to building codes.

The estate agent advises Mr Smith to market the room as extra floor space that could be used for a variety of purposes, such as a home office or exercise room. While this doesn't increase the official bedroom count of his home, it still adds value by offering potential buyers additional functional space.

This case study highlights the importance of understanding the specific requirements that determine what is not classed as a bedroom. It shows that even if a room has ample space and is used as a bedroom, it may not meet the legal definitions and building code requirements to be officially classified as such. Therefore, understanding these requirements can be crucial when buying, selling, or renovating a property.

Key Takeaways and Learnings

In this section, we will summarise the main points covered in this article about what is not classed as a bedroom. The information provided should help you understand the criteria that determine whether a room qualifies as a bedroom or not.

In conclusion, the classification of a room as a bedroom isn't as straightforward as one might initially think. It involves more than just calling any room with a bed a bedroom. Various factors, such as building code requirements, room features, and regional regulations, come into play.

Being aware of these factors is crucial in real estate contexts, as the number of bedrooms can significantly impact a property's value. Therefore, whether you're a homeowner, a prospective buyer, or a real estate professional, understanding what is not classed as a bedroom is essential.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a Non-Conforming Bedroom?

A non-conforming bedroom is a room that does not meet the required legal standards to be classified as a bedroom. This could be due to a variety of factors, such as lack of proper ventilation, insufficient natural light, or not having an appropriate means of egress.

For instance, if a room does not have a window, it does not meet the criteria for emergency escape routes, and therefore, even if it has other features typical of a bedroom, it would be considered a non-conforming bedroom. It's important to understand this when buying or selling property, as it can affect the home's value and legality.

  1. Can a Non-Conforming Bedroom be Used as a Bedroom?

While a non-conforming bedroom does not meet the legal standards for a bedroom, it can still be used as a sleeping space. However, it's important to note that it may not be advertised as a bedroom when selling the property.

Moreover, using a non-conforming bedroom as a regular sleeping space could potentially pose safety risks, especially in the event of an emergency, due to the lack of proper egress. Therefore, it's crucial to consider these factors before deciding to use a non-conforming bedroom as a regular sleeping space.

To convert a non-conforming bedroom into a legal bedroom, the room must meet the required building code standards. This often involves renovations to address the deficiencies that led to the room being classified as non-conforming in the first place.

For example, if the room lacks a proper egress window, installing one that meets the required size and accessibility standards would be necessary. Similarly, if the room does not have sufficient ventilation or natural light, appropriate modifications would need to be made.

  1. Does a Non-Conforming Bedroom Affect Property Value?

Yes, a non-conforming bedroom can impact property value. When valuing a home, appraisers and estate agents count the number of legal bedrooms, as per the building code standards. Therefore, a non-conforming bedroom would not be included in the bedroom count, potentially lowering the property's value.

However, even as a non-conforming bedroom, the room still adds square footage to the home, which can increase the property's value. Additionally, the room could be advertised as extra space for a variety of uses, such as a home office or playroom, which can also be appealing to potential buyers.