Dens versus Bedrooms

The number of bedrooms your home has is a definite selling feature when advertising the listing and there has been much debate about what exactly qualifies as a bedroom versus a den. While there is no specific definition of a bedroom, there are codes and standards that can help define the space and save a potential lawsuit for misrepresenting the number of bedrooms you have.

The Alberta Building Code, Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards and the National building Code all have regulations that define the features that a “bedroom” requires. Much of it surrounds access to and from the space for safety reasons. A bedroom must:

  • Have at least one outside window that can be easily opened from the inside. No locks and if there are bars, they must be able to be opened without the use of tools.
  • The window has to be obstacle-free with openings of 0.35m2 (3.8 ft2) with no dimension less than 380mm (15 inches).
  • The only exceptions to those standards would be when a bedroom door has direct access to the exterior of the home or the building/unit have an approved sprinkler system.

There are also some common-sense expectations that consumers have when viewing a bedroom, such as:

  • Closet: while it’s not in any code, many people expect a bedroom to have a closet, though some are comfortable using a dresser or armoire if there is no closet.
  • Enclosed space: while you might use your dining room as a guest space, a buyer might expect that the room be equipped with an actual door to be considered a bedroom.
  • Size: while Harry Potter might have been stuck with the cupboard under the stairs for his room, consumers would assume the space would have room for a bed and have a certain ceiling height. The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) requires a minimum height of 5ft in a portion of the room providing there is a ceiling height of 7ft somewhere in the room to qualify as square footage so that is a good rule of thumb.
  • Serviced: RECA also requires a space to be “suitable for year-round use” so it must be heated and a buyer would also expect electrical plug-ins available. A sunroom, for example, would only qualify if it was heated and properly insulated.

So, while it might be tempting to include a space you are currently using as a bedroom to make your listing more attractive to buyers, making sure it meets the minimum standards is crucial to protect yourself from liability and to properly represent your home to potential buyers. Visit me on Facebook and Google for more tips and tricks to ensure your real estate success!