There is a lot of confusion about what constitutes a bedroom in real estate. There are many opinions and even proper definitions. Let’s tackle them one at a time.
Every principality has official building codes. These codes go into great detail and are what inspectors use to verify certification. This is especially important for new construction as the home occupancy certification is needed before the home buyers can legally move in.
In all cases, the local building codes are the most authoritative answer as to what constitutes an official bedroom. The following is the official Louisville Occupancy Limitations (156.103) for what constitutes a bedroom excerpted from Property Maintenance Code Chapter 156.
D. Bedroom requirements. Every bedroom shall comply with the following requirements:
- Area for sleeping. Every bedroom occupied by one person shall contain at least 70 square feet (6.5 mm) of floor area, and every bedroom occupied by more than one person shall contain at least 50 square feet (4.6 mm) of floor area for each occupant thereof.
- Access from bedrooms. Bedrooms shall not constitute the only means of access to other bedrooms or habitable spaces and shall not-serve as the only means of egress from other habitable spaces except in units that contain fewer than two bedrooms.
- Water closet accessibility. Every bedroom shall have access to at least one water closet and one lavatory without passing through another bedroom. Every bedroom in a dwelling unit shall have access to at least one water closet and lavatory located in the same story as the bedroom or an adjacent story.
- Prohibited occupancy. No person shall use any kitchen, nonhabitable or public space for sleeping purposes, nor shall food be prepared or cooked in any room used for sleeping purposes, except in an efficiency apartment. In an efficiency apartment, that portion of the room designated for sleeping purposes shall not be within ten feet of that portion of the room designated for cooking purposes. The ten feet shall be calculated as the shortest straight line distance between the sleeping area and the stove. The ten feet requirement shall not be a violation when the ten feet distance is separated by a permanent divider wall of a height of at least 50% of the height of the room.
- Other requirements. Bedrooms shall comply with the applicable provisions of this chapter including, but not limited to, the light, ventilation, room area, ceiling height and room width requirements of this section, the plumbing facilities and water-heating facilities requirements of this chapter; the heating facilities and electrical receptacle requirements of this chapter; and the smoke detector and emergency escape requirements of this chapter.
In the area of bedroom requirements, the Federal government’s office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) general defers to the local housing regulations.
Home Appraisers & Tax Appraisers
This group of real estate experts may also add to the list of what constitutes a bedroom. But they may not remove any of the local regulations.
Realtors® & Real Estate Agents
In real estate, to be counted as a bedroom it must be:
- A room with a door,
- that has it’s own closet, and
- a means of egress.
Examples of rooms that are often counted as bedrooms but really shouldn’t be are:
- A basement room where the window is too small for someone to escape through;
- A room without a closet but utilizes a piece of furniture for clothing;
- A room, other than a loft, that’s open to the rest of the home.
Hopefully, this has helped you better understand the quirky nature of bedroom definitions. If you need a more specific answer for your Louisville home, feel free to contact me any time.