For appraisal purposes, what is a room? How do you count them?

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Advantage

We have been educated by Charles Buell's blog about what makes a bedroom.  That man is so thorough!  If you've never visited his blog, do so now.  He is a home inspector who lives in Washington with his deceased friend Raven.  He occasionaly has a squirrel named Nutsy visit him. But with all his quirks he's still a smart guy who writes a good blog.

Unfortunately when I first started blogging I didn't know Charles so he probably didn't see this blog.  In fact, probably no one else did either.  

The blog was about something that bothers me to this day.  Each time I fill out a broker's opinion of value one of the questions asked is how many rooms the house has.  It has to be an obsolete question that should be removed from the forms. It also asks me how many rooms the comps, which I may not ever see, have. Grrrrrrr! 

 So what on earth is a room?Entry hall

Is an entry hall a room?.................................>

Is a laundry room a room? 

Is a dining room a room if it is on one end of the large living room with no partition?   

Is a huge walk-in closet a room?  I saw one with its own window and it was the size of a bedroom.

Is a bathroom a separate room from being a bathroom when  you start counting rooms?

If a family removes all the walls from three rooms to make one big one is it still counted as three or as one.

Is an eat-in kitchen one room or two if it's big enough for a family of 14 to eat-in?

storage roomAnd finally, is this storage room a room? It's big enough to be a baby's room and holds a ton of collectibles as you can see. Doesn't this look just like some of our MLS pictures!!

<......................How could anyone live without a room like this?

<........Boxes have to be around for packing ebay items.  They pile up now since this blasted blogging took over and I don't have enough time.

<........The ironing board is needed sometimes.

<.........The Christmas decorations have to go someplace.

<.........Filing cabinets have to have a home.  So do old Windows 95 computers.

<.........A stepping stool is necessary to reach high treasures.

<.........You can never have too many clothes hangers.

My husband said I needed to clean this ROOM? up so I did!  There has been a vast improvement and that's why I feel comfortable showing my friends my storage ROOM?

 Perhaps some appraisers can apprise us of what is a room.  I really feel like I've got a room here!

 

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My Howdy

there Barbara

My first come up above, was made based on fact, and knowledge, and not from assumption for bedrooms in my area. Frist when my lady's. Son and his girlfriend, bought their home. The Appraiser doing the appraisal of the home, when it came to what was being called the master bedroom of the home. It did not have a door on it, had no closet, no wall on one side next to the steps going up to the area. It had to be called and listed as a loft, and not a bedroom. The second reason for what I wrote in my first comment, I holed a license to do appraisal's.

God Bless America

Jan 11, 2009 02:32 PM #26
Rainmaker
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Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Searcy AR

Charles, that's a strange viewpoint!  Getting in, not out???

Dale, so what did they do about the appraisal?  Thanks for comments.

 

Jan 11, 2009 05:24 PM #27
Rainmaker
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Michelle Finnamore
in Vaughan and Toronto GTA - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

In our neck of the woods if there is a room in the basement that you want to call a bedroom, it must have a window in it that is at least 18" high (fire code) and the window area must make up at least 5% of the wall space. Otherwise it cannot be listed as a bedroom.

Jan 11, 2009 05:43 PM #28
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Michele is mostly correct and may be completely correct depending on what code is followed in her area.  Most areas following the IRC would require a minimum height of 24" and natural light requirements of 8% of the floor area (this can be modified with some rather stringent artifical lighting). 

Barbara, the original minimum size requirement for egress windows in bedrooms was determined by what was necessary for fire department personell to get through the window with a pack on.  Also the egress requirement  is not a simple 24" high and that is it, because it also has to meet a "square footage" requirement as well---5.7 Sq Ft (5 Sq Ft if it is at grade).  So for example if the window is 24" high the minum width would be 29" (27" at grade).  I know it is confusing---but I hope this helps.  Perhaps I will do a post about it one of these days.

Jan 11, 2009 06:17 PM #29
Rainmaker
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Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CEP Realtor, Etc.

What is a room.  I am sure Charles is absolutely correct about a room in his comment above.  What is a bedroom???  In our area is it a minimum of square footage, a window of minimum size and has a closet.  IF it doesn't have those things it's not allowed to be called a bedroom. 

Jan 11, 2009 06:21 PM #30
Rainmaker
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Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Searcy AR

Michelle, being from the south, I'm ignorant about basements.  One thing that is easy on a bpo is when we get to basement or underground.  I can just say n/a!  Basements must be difficult!

Charles, all of that practically went over my head due to what I just commented to Michelle.  Basement?  Natural light requirement?  Hard math with those figures you gave!!  Thanks for trying.

Terrylynn, but is it called a room?  My blog was about rooms;  Charles was talking about bedrooms.  But they are similar so we're trying to get all answers. : )   Thanks for comments.

 

Jan 11, 2009 08:00 PM #31
Rainmaker
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James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move

A bedroom should have a door and a "closet".  A "closet" may also be a large wardrobe; which can be moved into the room.  Many of the old homes on Capitol Hill in DC have NO built-in closets (or at least did not when 1st built); as most of those folks had big wardrobes.

Also in DC; we consider a "legal" bedroom as one with a window big enough for an averaged size person to go through.

Jan 12, 2009 07:41 AM #32
Anonymous
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Anonymous

Great post!  I always wonder if the laundry room is just a little closet in the hall, is it a room?

Jan 13, 2009 10:01 AM #33
Anonymous
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Rafael

Is amazing the range of answer someone coud get....just as appraisal persons provide vague or partial answers on the appraisal evaluation of a home, IM sorry but I could not understand or get a definite criteria on what constitutes a room, nobody could provide an answer, is that possible?

What I do know is that one appraisal came back with four bedrooms for my last mortgage refinance and a recent appraisal for the same house came back with only three bedrooms, what is wromg with this picture?

If the definition of a room can not be determined or at best is variable. Then what do you call "a space" inside my house that has a window, is heated and air conditioned all year around, is 18 feet from the nearest bathroom, has 10 foot ceilings ( just as the rest of the house) has an entry door, has a closet, a night stand and dresser, a bed and a kid sleeping in it...is it a studio, no is a bedroom, oh no it was left out completely out of the appraisal. IM totally perplexed, what should i do to have it included into the appraisal?. 

Aug 17, 2010 08:12 PM #34
Rainmaker
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Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Searcy AR

Rafael, thanks for taking me back to this blog.  No one, of course, knew the answer completely.  It is an obsolete term, probably dating back to what they called four room houses.  They didn't visualize our mansions of today.  I think they need to drop it as a requirement.  Perhaps one of your bedrooms didn't have a closet.  But in my opinion, even without a closet you can still sleep in it!!  SO, it's a bedroom!! 

Aug 17, 2010 09:23 PM #35
Anonymous
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Morgan

We have a loft bedroom, with a window, two closets, but no door.  We are in Oregon and when we bought this house they did not list it as a bedroom, which I think is odd.  Can only answer why it would not be considered a bedroom?

May 02, 2011 06:57 PM #36
Rainmaker
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Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Searcy AR

Morgan, finding this comment from you made me go back and read the blog again.  I don't believe we ever decided for sure what a "room" was. Perhaps we decided on a "bedroom" but we never determined whether a master closet as big as a bedroom was a "room." 

May 03, 2011 02:55 PM #37
Anonymous
Anonymous
Morgan

I am sorry, but do you know why my loft bedroom would not be considered a bedroom? 
It has closets and a window

Thank you

Morgan

May 09, 2011 01:01 PM #38
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Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Searcy AR

Morgan, but does it have a complete wall?  Many loft rooms are open on one side.  I have had a foreclosure property that just had a ladder to get up to the loft bedroom. 

May 09, 2011 01:13 PM #39
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
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Barbara, I will chime in here and see if I can help out :)

Morgan, you may be into more of "habitable space" requirements than purely what makes a room a bedroom.  Of course if the room is not habitable space it won't qualify as a bedroom.  The room must be at least 70 sq ft and areas that are below 7' in height don't count in the square footage.  Access can't be by means of a ladder---a ladder would make it merely a storage area.  You said there is a window but does it meet egress requirements?  You don't say the age of the home but there might be age related requirements for it to be considered a bedroom.  I know of nothing in the code that would require a door on the room----although some jurisdictions might require it.

May 09, 2011 01:27 PM #40
Rainmaker
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Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Searcy AR

Charles, thanks for the help

May 09, 2011 10:02 PM #41
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Morgan

Thanks for the response.  The room has a spiral  staircase that leads up to it, there are 3 walls and a pony wall, no door. It is a good size room ( about 14x20) with vaulted ceilings. The window is 48x36.  So, do you think we would need to fill in the pony wall and add a door for it to be considered a bedroom.  It seems kinda silly, it is the nicest bedroom in the house.

May 12, 2011 03:35 PM #42
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
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Morgan, if the stairs meet egress requirements of your jurisdiction I see no reason you can't call it a bedroom.  Here is an example of IRC current requirements: 

Spiral stairways are permitted, provided the minimum width shall be 26 inches (660 mm) with each tread having a 7½-inches (190 mm) minimum tread depth at 12 inches from the narrower edge. All treads shall be identical, and the rise shall be no more than 9½ inches (241 mm). A minimum headroom of 6 feet 6 inches (1982 mm) shall be provided.

Your jurisdiction may vary, so consulting with the building dept in your area is likely necessary.  They may also have rules that say it has to be enclosed---the IRC does not.  Also you say the window is 48x36 but don't say what the "net" open size is.  There is nothing in the code that says a bedroom has to have a door that I am aware of.  It is something I hear that appraisers use to define a bedroom---so there may be a conflict there.

May 12, 2011 04:01 PM #43
Rainmaker
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Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Searcy AR

Charles, thanks for helping Morgan on this problem.

May 13, 2011 08:08 AM #44
Anonymous
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eugene
two story split levl foyer built on a slab 100% above grade does the first level count as sq. ft.? 100% heated and completed. i have been told i have a basement because of the entrance and the stairs go down even though it is built on a slab and 100% above grade the family room and full bathroom do not count towards sq. ft. no wall is below grade, not even by an inch! what do you think?
Apr 08, 2013 09:19 AM #45
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