What is a bedroom?

Although the Uniform Building Code, adopted by virtually all cities and counties, defines what constitutes a bedroom, many municipalities change the definition when adopting the UBC. So, while most cities require a closet to be a bedroom, others do not. Most will not allow a room, which is the only access to another room, to be called a bedroom. There usually must be a window or second means of egress. Other rules may apply. And, any bedroom added without permits is not a legal bedroom. There have been a number of claims against sellers and listing agents by buyers who later find out that the bedroom in the former garage, or a bedroom added without permits, is not a legal bedroom. Buyers claim that they have been damaged since they will have to advertise the home, when they sell it, at the lower number of bedrooms. And, in some cases, if a room has been added without permits, the seller has been required to tear out the room. 

San Francisco Specifics:

  1. Minimum size of 70 square feet with 7’ on a side. But this is only legal as a bedroom if there is another legal bedroom of at least 120 square feet.
  2. Required natural light and air. 8% of floor area of natural light, and 4% of floor area of air (operable window). That’s why a traditional double-hung window is legal, provides half the air as natural light.
  3. Minimum clear headroom of 7’-6”
  4. Two means of egress. One may be a window. If the second is the window, fire department requires minimum area for personnel access of width 20”, minimum height 24” with net clear opening minimum of 5.7 square feet.
  5. A closet is required.
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