• Nick Baynick

7 Need-to-Know Rules Before Turning That Extra Room Into a Bedroom

Updated: Aug 9, 2019

Do you have an extra room in your home that you want to see be turned into a bedroom or guest room?

We have all day-dreamt about increasing the number of rooms in our home. Whether it be for having extra space for company or finally giving your two kids the separate bedrooms they have been begging for—we all want to get the most out of the space in our home.

Before you go and dismantle that bunk bed, there are some things you need to keep in mind for a room to legally be considered “livable.” The International Residential Code (IRC) outlines the specific building code requirements to be used by local governments. These guidelines ensure that people are setting up their home in a way that does not put them in danger, especially during a disaster.

It is important to note that some of the laws vary from state to state. As a rule of thumb, follow these seven rules and you should be in good standing.

Must Have Proper Lighting (Follow the 8% Rule)


While it may seem obvious, providing proper lighting for the bedroom is an absolute must. To abide by the codes, a bedroom needs to have a minimum of one window. The glass surface area of the window needs to be a minimum of 8% of the floor area. This is called the 8% rule. Additionally, the windows open access space needs to be a minimum of 4% of the floor area of the room.

Luckily, you are allowed to use multiple windows to meet this requirement. Simply put, if you have a few smaller windows that equal 8% of the floor area, you are safe. Phew!

This rule has a distinct variation when you want to put the bedroom in the basement… but we will get to that later.


Needs to Include Ventilation


The ventilation requirements go hand-in-hand with the lighting rules. The windows must be able to open and again, have at least 4% of an open airway into the room based on the floors area.Basically, if you already followed rule #1 this rule is kind of a given. It is crucial to have proper ventilation for many reasons. Poor ventilation can raise health concerns and have consequences on the quality of air. Additionally, those who suffer from allergies are more susceptible to attacks when they do not have a good way to ventilate their room.

In the end, meeting these window requirements will brighten and liven up the rooms… So it really does work in your favor!

Minimum Square Footage


If you have seen Harry Potter, you know about his unwholesome living conditions at home. This type of room would NOT meet any of these requirements. Just because the room can fit a small bed does not mean it can be classified as a bedroom. There are minimum size requirements that must be met. For example, a one-person bedroom needs to have a minimum of 70 sqft. of floor area. The floor also needs to have a minimum of 7 ft. in one direction. It is likely you will need more than 7 ft. to fit a bed into the room comfortably, so this rule is easy to accomplish.

Remember, the size of the floor area is going to impact the size requirement of your windows needed for light and ventilation. So be sure to vet all of this out beforehand.

The ceilings also need to be at least 7 ft. tall in the room to be considered legal.

Access and Egress


You may have noticed in almost every home that the bedrooms all connect to the hallway or a common area. That is because it is technically illegal for a bedroom to not include at least one door that is accessible from these common areas. This access is crucial and could save a loved one's life if there is ever an emergency.

So think, if the room requires you to go through another bedroom to get to it — it probably won't pass the inspection.

The term Egress is defined as “to exit” and is mandatory for all bedrooms to have at least two egress points. That does include the entrance door, so adding another access point with the ability to egress is your best bet.

Must Possess Working Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors


Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are mandatory in every home and must be placed near every area where people sleep. They are also required by law to have the batteries changed on a regular basis to ensure that they are in working order.

Failure to include and upkeep the detectors could be the biggest mistake you ever make and could cost you thousands in damages. Finding out that they were not working during a gas leak or fire could result in serious health conditions or worse.

In general, most people do not oppose installing these detectors but can sometimes forget to replace the batteries. For the sake of you and your safety, it is best to keep them top of mind and confirm they are operational.

Needs to Have at Least Two Power Outlets


Chances are, almost every room in your home has at least one electrical outlet. But, in order to be considered a bedroom, you will need at least two outlets and include a wall switch that controls either the outlets or the lights.

All Basement Bedrooms Require an Egress Window


As we mentioned above, every bedroom requires a way to egress or exit the room. This rule becomes a bit more strict when you are converting a basement room into a bedroom. Because the basement or lower level is underground, a standard window isn’t going to suffice. That is because the ground level prevents you from a safe exit.

The solution? Install an egress window! Egress windows meet all of the requirements for basement rooms and provide safe passage out of the basement during an emergency. These windows must have a:

  • Minimum width of the opening cannot be less than 20”

  • Minimum height of opening cannot be less than 24”

  • The opening must be 5.0 Sq Ft on the first level installation and 5.7 Sq ft for a lower level

  • Distance to the floor cannot be longer than 44 inches

At Baynicks, we specialize in installing Egress Windows. All of our products meet the requirements as well as provide tons of other benefits to your home!

So why wait? Contact us today and find out how we can help you get your new bedroom up to code while installing a beautiful addition to your home. Our staff is ready to determine which egress window system or custom built solution is right for you! Call (414) 380-5656 or click here to reach out.

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