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  #1  
Old 03-10-2007, 09:33 AM
notter314 notter314 is offline
 
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Default what makes a room a bedroom?

I live in a home that was built in 1906. When I purchased it was listed as 5 bedrooms. 3 on the second floor and 2 in the attic. When we had it appraised, the appraisal said that it only qualified as 2 bedrooms, which of course lowered the value. I have heard that in order to qualify as a bedroom it must have a closet and maybe an overhead light? Are there requirements for the size of the closet? Are there any other requirements. Not sure if it matter, but the home is located in St. Louis, MO. We want to add whatever is necessary to make these rooms bedrooms again. Thank you for your help!
Stephanie
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Old 03-10-2007, 11:07 AM
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Peter LeQuire Peter LeQuire is offline
 
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It's frustrating to ask the question you've asked and to be told, "It depends." But it does depend.

First, a bedroom may be defined by the building code that applies.

According to The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal "No national standard exists on what constitutes a room." There is no definition of a bedroom in that source.

Depending on jursidiction and local custom, the characteristics required for a bedroom might include: adequate area to accomodate a bed and other furniture associated with a bedroom; privacy (like a door); an emergency exit (window); maybe a closet. (Most codes are specific about issues like access.)

The closet issue has been around for a long time: some dogmatically say that if it doesn't have a closet, it isn't a bedroom. However, speaking from my experience and from my geographic area, I've concluded that someone buying an old house - such as what you've described - buys it for myriad reasons, and accepts some of its charateristics that may not be common or expected in more recently built houses - large center hallways might be an example - or bathrooms that are sorta shoved into whatever space is available to accomodate them. The lack of closets reflects the era in which the house was built: people stored their hang up clothes in wardrobes and their fold up clothes in chests or chests of drawers (or, sometimes built in storage areas).

The key value issue (assuming that your house complies with codes, and assuming that there is a market for older houses, in general) is how houses the age and utility of yours are accepted by buyers: if houses similar to yours are readily marketable, it would be difficult to support the contention that the "market" penalizes houses that only have two closeted rooms. If an appraisal defines as a bedroom only those rooms having closets and penalizes yours for only having two, the comparable information ought to support that penalty. If, on the other hand, the comparables used have room count similar to yours, but are considered to have 3, 4 or 5 bedrooms, exacting that penalty may not be appropriate.

There also may be a question in your area about how houses are advertised. A real estate person may not make the appraiser's "closet" distinction, and might count as a bedroom any room having a bed that appears private enough for sleeping.

All that being said, before building closets or doing any other work you think necessary to increase the bedroom count, please consider the overall effect such work might have on the character and appeal of the house. Most people buying older houses accept their idiosyncracies, seeking the charm and architectural and historic interest older houses often have. A poorly planned or poorly executed "remodel" or "updating" may well do more to impair the appeal of your house than its lack of closet space.

My $.02.
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  #3  
Old 03-10-2007, 11:24 AM
xmrdfghap xmrdfghap is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notter314 View Post
I have heard that in order to qualify as a bedroom it must have a closet and maybe an overhead light?
This is my opinion. And it is an opinion. But I would challenge anyone anywhere to show that a 1906 house must have closets to make a room a bedroom. Closets did not become common until post WWII, at which time they were small (2' x 3' is not uncommon). Prior to that the closet function was performed by wardrobes which frequently incorporated drawers, shoe storage and an area where items could be hung up. The dresser area usually had a special drawer for collars. All this boils down to the fact that tastes and styles and utility changes over time and to require 100 year old conditions to meet contemporary standards is absurd.

The one are where I do agree with mandating modern bedroom standards in old properties is egress. Current code books require each sleeping room (bedroom) have access to the exterior of the house through either a window or a door, that there be a minimum of 10% of the floor space in window space, that 50% of the window space be openable to allow fresh air to circulate, and that there be sufficent space to allow egress in the window or door. Every bedroom should allow a fireman to enter from the outside to rescue any person trapped in that room. The ventilation and egress requirements can be waived if you have an engineer certified sprinkler system installed and a ventilation system that can change the air in the room every 30 minutes.

Based on that concept, the only rooms I feel do not qualify as bedrooms are interior rooms (where there is no outside access and no sprinkler system).

Again, I challenge anyone to provide hard evidence that a closet is required for a bedroom........although particular lenders may require it, it is a judgement call on the base of the underwriter, not the appraiser.
  #4  
Old 03-10-2007, 11:43 AM
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Smokey Bear Smokey Bear is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Goodpasture View Post
But I would challenge anyone anywhere to show that a 1906 house must have closets to make a room a bedroom. Closets did not become common until post WWII, at which time they were small (2' x 3' is not uncommon).
Absolute evidence that men should NOT be allowed to build houses without design input from a woman.
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Old 03-10-2007, 11:47 AM
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In a 1906 house, a bed to sleep in, a window to crawl out of in case of fire, and an interior door that leads to other parts of the house and can be shut for privacy. The bed is considered personal property.
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Old 03-10-2007, 11:59 AM
Ken B Ken B is offline
 
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The primary requirement for a room to be called a "bedroom" is that there is direct egress from the room to the exterior. An interior room with no window cannot be called a bedroom. A basement room must have a window with a sill not more than 48" from the floor and the window size must be larg enough for a firefighter in full gear to enter the window. Rooms without closets may likely require a functional adjustment for the cost to add a closet, but if the neighborhood standard is no closet, than a functional adjustment is probably not necessary. HUD had/has a requirement that the room be no less than (if I remember correctly) 81 sf to be considered a bedroom.
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Last edited by Ken B : 03-10-2007 at 12:02 PM.
  #7  
Old 03-10-2007, 12:19 PM
Annemieke Roell's Avatar
Annemieke Roell Annemieke Roell is offline
 
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Our 1895 built house did not have any closets until we put one in. Actually, I think closets are an obstacle .... they limit the way furniture can be placed. I'd take armoires and chests of drawers any day ....
  #8  
Old 03-10-2007, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notter314 View Post
I live in a home that was built in 1906. When I purchased it was listed as 5 bedrooms. 3 on the second floor and 2 in the attic. When we had it appraised, the appraisal said that it only qualified as 2 bedrooms, which of course lowered the value. I have heard that in order to qualify as a bedroom it must have a closet and maybe an overhead light? Are there requirements for the size of the closet? Are there any other requirements. Not sure if it matter, but the home is located in St. Louis, MO. We want to add whatever is necessary to make these rooms bedrooms again. Thank you for your help!
Stephanie

Bedroom count may not always lower value. Overall living area is considered more important in some markets than actual room count. There are unique exceptions but they are fairly rare. Baths usually add extra value though in most markets.

Last edited by Blue1 : 03-10-2007 at 12:59 PM.
  #9  
Old 03-10-2007, 12:59 PM
xmrdfghap xmrdfghap is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue1 View Post
Bedroom count may not always lower value. Overall living area is considered more important in some markets.
I agree, Bruce. I would consider a significant value adjustment based on bedroom count to be a big red flag if I was doing a review on it. I would certainly want to know what they base their adjustment on, other than "appraisers experience." Particularly if it is a trainee signing the report......
  #10  
Old 03-10-2007, 01:03 PM
Annemieke Roell's Avatar
Annemieke Roell Annemieke Roell is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodpasture View Post
I would certainly want to know what they base their adjustment on, other than "appraisers experience." Particularly if it is a trainee signing the report......
With all due repect, but I am getting a little tired of you experienced appraisers saying that. In case you'll missed it ... the person signing on the right hand side "owns" the report. So if a trainee report shows those kinds of adjustments and the report was transmitted to the client that way, the "right hand side" signer ought to have his/her heinie whupped.
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