When I am asked to list properties or am showing properties with small rooms, I often get the question, "Is this considered a bedroom?" The number of bedrooms in a house is important because sellers want to appear in the search results of as many buyers as possible; however, any bedroom listed needs to be legal size in order to get the nod, so I thought it would be useful to share the actual requirments for legal bedrooms...
According to the International Residential Code (IRC), a legal bedroom must be at least 70 square feet in area, with a width not less than 7 feet. The minimum required ceiling height is 7 feet 6 inches. If the ceiling is sloped, the required height applies to at least half of the ceiling. As for windows, bedrooms must have windows for light, ventilation, and emergency escape. If a basement room does not meet these requirements, it cannot be considered as a legal bedroom. The minimum size requirement for bedroom windows that provide natural light is at least 8% of the floor area of the room, and minimum size for openable windows is at least 4% of the floor area of the room.
For emergency escape, the openable window must have a sill height of no more than 44 inches above the floor. The size of the opening should be at least 5.7 square feet, measuring no less than 24 inches in height and no less than 20 inches in width. Windows should be able to open without the use of a key or tool. Screens and bars are permitted as long as they can be opened or removed from inside the dwelling, also without the use of a key or tool. The code makes no mention of bedroom closets because these can be provided by means of portable cabinets.