Most houses are listed in terms of how many bedrooms the house has. But when is a bedroom no longer a bedroom?
Home renovations over time on older homes can add value to a home. However, keep in mind that not all changes to a home will be legal. This is particularly true when it comes to bedrooms, as there are certain requirements that must be met for a room to be considered a legal bedroom.
Blocking Bedroom Windows
To be a legal bedroom, the room needs a window that leads directly to the exterior of the home. This is commonly referred to as egress. A common mistake when adding on to a house is that a bedroom becomes enclosed. A common situation is additional rooms and a hallway are added to a house. With this new addition, a bedroom’s windows now only go to another room rather than the exterior. Now, this room can no longer be considered a legal bedroom.
Enclosing The Patio
A similar situation is when a bedroom window overlooks an open patio. As the patio is part of the exterior of the home, this is acceptable. However, some owners decided they want to enclose the patio to make the patio unusable as interior space. Much like adding an addition, now the window looking over an exterior patio now looks into an enclosed patio. Because this window no longer goes directly to the exterior, the room loses its ability to be a legal bedroom.
A Door Directly To The Garage
A common building style in the 1950s was to have a garage attached to the home but without a door from the house directly to the garage. At the time it was thought a person would just go outside to enter the garage. As houses from the 1940s and earlier generally had detached garages, going outside to get to the garage was common. A common workaround is to cut a doorway in a bedroom to enter the garage.
Another situation is adding a room next to the garage.
However, a door between a garage and a bedroom is considered dangerous. One potential issue is car exhaust entering the bedroom. Car exhaust contains carbon monoxide which is can cause death. Another potential issue is garages are more likely to catch on fire, which could quickly enter a bedroom.
Having a door between a garage and a bedroom is specifically not permitted by The International Building Code (IRC 302.5. 1).
Basement Rooms With No Egresss
Basements in Los Angeles are very rare. But occasionally we do come across homes that have a basement level. I often see listings claim “could be used as a bedroom” or “could be converted to a bedroom”. However, if the basement room’s windows are undersized or have no windows at all, then these rooms can not be legally converted into a bedroom.
No Closet? No Problem
A common myth is that a room must have a closet to be a legal bedroom. The truth is in California, the state residential code does not require that a bedroom have a closet.
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