Across the United States, each state
has its own rules around defining a bedroom. This is particularly important
when buying and selling your home, when you define how many bedrooms your house
has, or how many you’re looking for.
Here in North Carolina, we have two elements that determine a bedroom: size and egress. The county building codes at the time the home was constructed will determine the minimum size required. This has changed over time; therefore, a house built in 1975 will have different size requirements than a house built today.
At the time of writing this, the Durham minimum size for a bedroom is X by X. If you have questions about current minimum sizes in your county, here are a few links to Triangle area county websites:
- Wake County Planning, Development, and
- Durham City-County Inspections Department
- Orange County Planning and Inspections
- Chatham County Central Permitting and
Egress, the ability to exit, is the
second defining element for a bedroom. A bedroom must have at least 2 exit
points, one of them must be directly outside. Typically these exit points are a
doorway and window.
Given the above, a bedroom is a room
of minimum size (according to building codes when the building was constructed)
with two exit points, one of which leads directly outside.
The Closet Myth
Many popular TV shows plainly state,
“there’s no closet so this doesn’t qualify as a bedroom.” That’s
likely a regulation local to wherever they’re filming the TV show. Counties in
the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Area do not have any closet requirements for
bedrooms. While convenient and desired by home buyers, it is not a requirement
for a bedroom.
What About Septic Restrictions?
If a house is on a septic system
rather that municipal sewer, a septic permit from the health department will
restrict the number of bedrooms a home can have. However, it does not change
the definition of what a bedroom is.
In other words, if you have 4 rooms
that qualify as a bedroom according to the definition, but your septic permit
only allows for 3 bedrooms, you must label one of those rooms as something
else. Many homeowners will call this additional room an office or bonus room.
It cannot be labeled, or count as, a bedroom.