What’s a legal bedroom? That’s one question that every real estate agent, homeowner, and constructor needs to know the answer to. Majority of people will readily define a bedroom as the room where their bed is! Well, it’s not that straightforward. There are indeed certain requirements that a room must meet before it can be called a “bedroom.”

It’s essential to know these requirements since there are legal repercussions for homeowners and landlords who don’t adhere to them. It’s no news that home buyers are usually willing to pay more for a home with more bedrooms. This basically translates to: more bedrooms = higher home value.

Because of this, real estate agents and home owners trying to sell their home often put the “bedroom” label on as many rooms as possible. Sometimes, they do this without confirming that the rooms meet their states legal bedroom requirements. Needless to say, this is not a practice you want to adopt.

Though legal bedroom codes may vary from state to state, the requirements for the size and height are somewhat standard. Most locations align with the International Residential Code (IRC). Below are the basic requirements for a legal bedroom.

1.    Square Footage

A bedroom should be no less than 70 square feet. Also, it should be no less than 7 feet wide (horizontally). You must keep this in mind when constructing your flex bedrooms. Ensure that that the size of your bedroom conforms to these specifications at the minimum.

2.    Means of Egress

For safety reasons, a bedroom must have two exits. One that leads to the rest of the home and one that goes to the outside the house. In most cases, the outside egress will be a window.

To provide adequate light, the window must be at least 8% of the floor area. For ventilation, it must be at least 4% of the floor area. Also, to provide a safe fire escape route, the window must have an area of 5.7 square feet. It should also not be less than 24 inches high, 20 inches wide, and 44 inches high from floor to the sill.

3.    Ceiling Height

A bedroom needs a tall ceiling for occupants to walk freely; therefore, it must be a minimum of 7 feet in height or higher. Attic rooms can have a slope, so the height of the room doesn’t have to be uniform. However, at least 50% of the ceiling must be at least 7 feet high, and the rest of the sloped ceiling at least 5 feet high. The majority of the room’s ceiling should, however, meet these requirements.

4.    Heat Source

A bedroom needs to have adequate temperature control. One way to achieve this is to add a vent that’s connected to the home’s the cooling and heating system, or just add an air conditioner during the warmer seasons and an electric heater during the cooler times if the first option isn’t possible. Whichever option you decide to go with, the bedroom needs to be temperature regulated.

5.    Wiring

A legal bedroom must have proper electrical wiring and must also include an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI). This will work to prevent electrical fires from faulty wiring.

6.    Smoke Alarms

Bedrooms must include smoke alarms. Smoke alarms must be placed within the bedroom and also outside the bedroom in the hall. With that said, this is the duty of the landlord or homeowner, so if you’re renting a home and your bedroom lacks a smoke alarm, be sure to request one.

7.    Closet Space

Bedrooms need closet space. The closet doesn’t have to be traditional (built with the home), nor does it need a door necessarily. The closet can even be a portable one, so long as it’s there.

Always adhere to the requirements to ensure that you stay well within the law. A flex bedroom is cool, but it may not always be legal. If you need to put additional rooms in your home, do well to get the necessary permits. Let your home be a source of peace and comfort to you…not the opposite!


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