It's a commonly believed myth that a room must have a closet to be considered a bedroom. While a closet may make practical sense, and of course most buyers want the bedrooms in their home to have a storage option, a closet is not necessary for a room to be considered a bedroom.
So, what makes a room a bedroom?
Generally, here are the minimum requirements:
Minimum size requirements (usually at least 70–80 square feet or at least 7 feet per horizontal direction)
Minimum height requirements (often 7 feet or higher for most of the room)
Having more than one way out, such as a door to the exterior or a window
Minimum window opening size that an adult can fit through in case of emergency, usually 5.7 square feet
Heating and/or cooling options (a space heater doesn't count)
Access to a lavatory without having to walk through another bedroom to access it -- meaning, access directly into a bathroom or into a hallway that leads to one (and most appraisers will tell you that the bathroom must be on the same level of the house)
If the house has a septic system, the number of bedrooms may not exceed the septic capacity
Why Does Everyone Think A Closet is Required?
When I say a closet is not "required," it's really more of a technicality.
Is there a hard-and-fast rule that a bedroom must have a closet? No.
Is it a fair expectation? Absolutely.
A bedroom should probably have a closet since most buyers expect one, but technically the International Residential Code does not mandate a bedroom to have a closet. The lack of a closet does not necessarily mean a room cannot be a bedroom. But we must ask ourselves: what does the local real estate market expect? What do other comparable properties have in the rooms they call bedrooms? Is the room truly useable as a bedroom if it doesn't have a closet?
Closets can be problematic in certain types of properties, for example an older home in which the original inhabitants may have had an armoire and a trunk for clothing storage (and let's be honest: a lot fewer pieces of clothing than most of us have now). However, in a suburban home in a subdivision, for example, built from the 1970s until now, the expectation of most buyers is that the rooms referred to as bedrooms each have a closet (at least one, and likely a large one, at that!).
The methods of egress are really most important.
There's a reason that the minimum standards listed above deal mainly with livability (ceiling height and room size) and safety (two ways out of the room). Of course, the size requirements enable you to actually use the bedroom as a bedroom and access to a bathroom is also a factor to keep in mind. Livability for you, though, may also mean a closet, so while the home may be listed correctly, it still may not fit your needs, and that's something to keep in mind during your home search.
But egress -- leaving the room -- is of utmost importance. In case of emergency, especially a fire, the occupant of the room must have two options for escape and one must lead to the outside, (i.e., two doors -- one to the outside, or a door and a window).
Need some new bedrooms in your life? If you're thinking of buying a home, call us today -- we'd love to help! You can reach us at 404-994-2181 or Ben@BuySellLiveAtlanta.com