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I'm finishing my basement (actually its the second basement I've finished). And I've built what I think is a bedroom in the basement. I had the ELECTRICAL inspector in here the other day and as he's going through the inspection he says: "So this isn't going to be a 'legal' bedroom, because it has no closet?" It's always been my understanding that a bedroom does NOT require a closet.

Does a bedroom have to have a closet?

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He was likely asking in regards to a smoke/fire detector. If it's going to be a legal bedroom, it likely needs a dedicated smoke alarm. As mike states, there's a lot more to a basement bedroom than just a closet. –  DA01 Nov 29 '11 at 7:34
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Also the NEC specifies that all new circuits with outlets (either receptacles or lights) in bedrooms be on an arc fault breaker. –  auujay Nov 29 '11 at 15:55
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@auujay brings up an excellent point (and one I would think your electrical inspector would be more concerned with than the closet!). –  Mike Powell Nov 30 '11 at 7:21
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4 Answers

I recently ran into this situation, my wife and I are in process of buying a house right now. It was listed as a 4 bedroom house, however on inspection we found only one bedroom had a real closet. There was evidence of the closet space (you could see the "indent") in all the bedrooms but all the closet doors had been removed in the other bedrooms to reclaim space for built-ins, et al.

Our Realtor remarked right away this would potentially be an issue, particularly with VA/FHA buyers. We consulted with our lender (USAA) and we were told (in Washington State), for valuation purposes they would not consider a space a bedroom if it didn't contain a closet, a heat source and an egress window. I do not know if there's any difference if you elect to use a conventional mortgage or other methods of financing. Fortunately the sellers agreed to install doors for us so the issue is now moot.

TL;DR - My new 4 bedroom house would have only been appraised as a 1 bedroom home by my bank if the seller didn't put closet doors up.

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There must be some accommodation for the age of the house...otherwise I would have a zero bedroom house instead of a five bedroom since none of my bedrooms have closets. The house is over 100 years old though. –  DaveNay Dec 31 '11 at 4:08
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It really depends on the code in your area. Some places, you can't legally call it a bedroom for valuation and resale if it doesn't have a closet and a window. Other places, all a bedroom requires is basically 4 walls.

Even if code allows it, a real estate agent might now be comfortable allowing it to be called a bedroom when adding it to MLS.

Basement rooms almost always require a large egress window or sometimes a direct path to a door to be considered bedrooms. Honestly, this is a good safety requirement since people usually end up using the basement rooms for their kids.

While the electrical inspector may not have expert knowledge in other trades, the fact that he mentioned that it should have a closet would make me seriously consider adding one.

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I couldn't find a solid source that says a closet is Required, to make a room a bedroom. It seems to depend more on the agency listing the property, and the mortgage company financing the sale of said property.

The only requirement I could find dealing with bedrooms from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), was that an emergency exit is required.

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I did find some information that suggests that the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), does require a closet when defining a room as a bedroom.

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Source

Your best bet would be to contact a local real estate agent, and ask them if they would list the room as a bedroom.

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I was curious so I just did some googling around and it seems that, if anything, some lenders might require a closet for a room to be included in the bedroom count for the house. I imagine this might be to help ensure consistency in home valuations. Check the first few results here for more info.

Code does require a bedroom have an egress window however. Also if your house is on a septic system it will be approved for a certain number of bedrooms and you may run into issues when selling the house if you've represented the new room as a bedroom but your septic system isn't rated for it.

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At least in my city a bedroom also needs at least a specific amount of window area (proportional to the floor area) to count. –  auujay Nov 29 '11 at 15:53
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+1 on the septic comment. We bought a 4 bedroom, converted 2 rooms to a library, and now want to add 2 more bedrooms. We can't -- it's only rated for a 3 bedroom septic. I think the inspector should have caught that, but he didn't. We're going to add the rooms, with the required windows, but without the closet for one; if we need to replace the septic, we can just add a closet and have the 4th bedroom. –  thursdaysgeek Dec 1 '11 at 0:37
    
I don't agree with the lender answer since it is unsourced. I built onto my home in Florida last year. Per National Building Code, you have to add a closet and air conditioning to be considered a bedroom. Additionally, if the room exits to the outside, then you have to have an egress point to the outside or it is out of code too. Also, you have to have outlets every 6 feet. –  staticx Dec 6 '11 at 3:15
    
@0A0D There is no "National Building Code." U.S. jurisdictions typically adhere to the International Building Code, with local amendments. And here's a link to the relevant section of Florida's version, I see nothing requiring closets or air conditioning: ecodes.biz/ecodes_support/free_resources/2010Florida/…. –  Mike Powell Dec 8 '11 at 17:14
    
@MikePowell: My Architect and Engineer both stated it is part of International Building Code. This was also confirmed with my city. I understand that there is a non-free version of the International Code available. –  staticx Dec 8 '11 at 23:51
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