non-conforming and conforming bedrooms

8 Replies

Hi everyone

I have a quick question about advertising a house on how many bedrooms you have. Are non-conforming bedrooms still technically a bedroom and can it be advertised as a bedroom? For example, a basement with a room with no door and labeling that a bedroom with the rest of the house, but as a non-conforming room. Does anyone have any thoughts about this? Thanks for reading.

My understanding is that a basement room has to have a door, a closet and an egress window to be considered a bedroom. If you can't make these improvements, then just call it an office or a den!

You cant call it a bedroom. It easiest to just call it something else and you can always mention other things the room could be used for. If there is reason you need it as a bedroom, look into the cost of doing it legit and see if it is worth it.

Ditto the mentioning other uses and looking into the cost/benefit of making it a legit bedrooms. I have been looking at some old 1920 house in Pierce County WA that are legit 2 bedrooms but have other non-conforming rooms that with some money can be made into a 3rd, but the question is how much? It depends on what you want to do.

On the other hand, in the same neighborhood on I saw a place that said something like "huge 2 bedroom/1 bath with extra den/office/nonconforming bedroom etc."

If I am interpreting the original post correctly (reading between the lines), then having or lacking a door to the basement room is not the REAL problem here.  I am assuming that this is a rental property.  What I am about to say is not legal advice, so I advise that you seek your own counsel's advice.

The HUGE factor here is if the basement can legally have a bedroom in it.  It is my understanding that a basement bedroom requires a minimum of 2 means of egress and there are very specific minimum standards to be met for that purpose.  I highly recommend against even a "casual" suggestion that such an area could be used as a bedroom unless it is fully compliant!  I would go a step further with that and tell potential tenants that it is NOT to be used as a bedroom and have them agree to that in writing, unless you know 100% for certain that it is legal for such purpose.  The potential liability is far greater than the few extra bucks in rent for this extra "bedroom".

In certain other situations, I have been more creative in my definition of a bedroom.  For example, a room with no closet, a room that is fairly small, etc., but never at the risk of somebody's life.  An appraiser may not consider a decent sized room with a large window and no closet a bedroom but a fire inspector MIGHT if life safety conditions are met.  It all depends on who you ask and what the specific situation is.  Be careful and know building and life safety codes before deciding what to do.

Thank you all for the info and help!

I have a similar problem - there are two bedrooms upstairs, but you have to walk through the first to get to the second. Both are fine in terms of egress, closet, etc. but it's a VERY small house & there's no practical way to change the layout. In realistic terms, it's a bedroom, but to a real estate agent or appraiser, it probably isn't. Potato, po-tah-to. In your case, I would not call the basement a "bedroom" of any sort, due to the lack of egress. It could be a media room, playroom, tornado shelter, gigantic walk-in closet, "bonus room," etc. If there's a fire & somebody's sleeping in there, you do not want that on your head!

It also depends on local rules, and some of them get quite ridiculous.  In reading up getting ready for a required rental inspection on our latest, the local rule for bedroom is minimum 75 sq ft for each person over 12 yrs of age, 50 sq ft for each person under 12 that will occupy the same room, must have separate entrance (cannot have situation where you walk through another occupied room), doesn't say anything about closets in that section, but all must have window (actually states sq ft of natural light requirement, which most basements will not meet).  The screwy part is you cannot discriminate on familial status (which, to me, means it's sketchy asking how many kids they have during showings, although I do ask for names and ages of all persons residing to be listed on the application).  There is even a clause where a child will be exempt from the sq ft rules until they are 12 months old, so new additions to a family can mean no lease renewal as well.      

Oh and if you're wholesaling, saying it's a 3 bd and having an investor go out and find it's actually just a 2bd is a really bad! You've just wasted their time and lost credibility. But if you specify "possible 3 bd with addition of egress window" (provided it's actually technically possible to add that egress window, of course) then you're providing really valuable info for them about a possible value add scenario.

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