I'm remodeling a basement and trying to determine if a particular layout would violate code. I am in a 2015 IBC/IRC jurestiction.

This blog indicates that the bedroom must be

At least 7’ in any horizontal direction

And similar statements are made on other sites. But what does that mean?

  • Does this mean that a 7x7 foot square must be able to fit in the room?

  • A 7 foot diameter circle must fit?

  • Some other interpretation?

Sketch of room if it helps. Apolgies for the quality and lack of scale. The diagonal dashed line measures 8.6 ish feet, so from point A you could swing a 7 ft rod 90 deg without hitting the wall.

enter image description here

PS this is a permitted project and the bedroom is planned to be compliant in all other ways already. I would ask my county, but called too late to catch the plan reviwer before they all left for Christmas.

  • A queen size bed mattress is 60 x 80 inches, bedframe somewhat larger. How will you fit one in there and have room to swing a cat? Dec 23, 2017 at 14:20
  • 1
    @harper this is a nursery for an infant. Their mattress is only 28x52. Dec 23, 2017 at 14:45
  • 1
    From the discussion below, you can tell that I don’t think your room you’ve drawn complies as a bedroom. So......I’m reluctant to tell you how to get around this Code requirement. However, if you must...call it something else than a bedroom, like a “nursery” or “day room”.
    – Lee Sam
    Dec 24, 2017 at 1:55
  • As @LeeSam suggests, does it really matter whether you call it a bedroom? Make sure you’ve complied with the egress requirements so you’ll be safe, and call it “storage”. That would not be a habitable living space and therefore not subject to the dimensional requirements.
    – Mark
    Dec 25, 2017 at 3:57
  • In my area, I believe it also has to have a closet to be called a bedroom. Or at least room for a large armoire.
    – Ed on PCR
    Dec 26, 2017 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


Whether you can make your space work or not, remember code requirements for a second exit besides the door- like an egress window, to get out in case of fire, etc. The Minimum escape area is 5'7" sq. ft.; with the min. opening height is 24" high, and the width is 20". Also the sill has to be a maximum of 44" off the floor. As far as the weird shape of the room, maybe you can go for a variance.


Actually, the 2017 ICC Section 304.1 says, “Habitable rooms shall have a minimum of 70 square feet.” AND Section 304.2 says, “Habitable rooms shall be not less than 7 feet in any horizontal direction.”

Therefore, your drawing does not comply. While it meets the 70 square feet requirement, it does not meet the minimum of 7’ in any direction.

Also, a 7’ circle does not satisfy this requirement. It is only 7’ in any direction unless you only stand in the exact center of the circle, much less satisfy the 70 square feet requirement.

  • Oh, the minimum ceiling height is 7’, unless it has a sloping ceiling. Then it gets complicated. (Section 305.1)
    – Lee Sam
    Dec 23, 2017 at 8:38
  • 4
    304.2 is at least ambigous, but mostly plain stupidly written down (mathematician speaking). It does not consider non-rectangular rooms. As I read it, the room in question is 12'8 in one direction and 8'7 in the other with area 94 sq ft (what a clever unit system!), and therefore perfectly complying. Also, in any direction there is 7' across at some place; you can place a 7' rod in any heading into the room.
    – yo'
    Dec 23, 2017 at 13:45
  • Im trying to understand what 7feet in any horizontal direction means. If I stand in the corner labeled 'A' I could swing a 7 foot pole without hitting any walls for example. Dec 23, 2017 at 14:49
  • @yo' No, the room is not 7’ in ANY direction. It is NOT 7’ along the dashed line in the drawing. The requirement does not read, “7’ in two perpendicular directions.”
    – Lee Sam
    Dec 23, 2017 at 16:01
  • Sorry for being dumb, but I fail to see how sqrt((6+7/12)^2+(5+7/12)^2) ~ 8.63 < 7.
    – yo'
    Dec 23, 2017 at 16:06

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