Home Buying in 01453>Question Details

Jill, Home Buyer in 01453

Does a legal bedroom in MA have to be heated?

Asked by Jill, 01453 Sun Aug 29, 2010

A home I"m looking at is listed as a 2BR and the town assessment says 2 BR's but there is no heat in the 2nd one, which is located on the 2nd floor (converted attic). The house was built in 1950. Would this be grandfathered in any way? It's been taxed as a two bedroom as well. I spoke to the building inspector in the town and he says there must be heat along with egress and closet. How can it be legal to list a property this way if it's not to code? They are asking for a 2BR price. The property is bank owned. What are your suggestions regarding addressing this situation in an offer? I shouldn't have to pay a 2BR price if it's legally only a 1 BR. Any suggestions? Thanks! Jill

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J.M.Jones - 978-335-9092 - Homes & Rentals’ answer
Here it is.................

You do not need to have heat if built 1950 or prior and has a radiant heat source - unless it has been renovated in any way - then you will need to install electric baseboard.

The lender is more of a problem then the state - if a permit to renovate anything was pulled for that property after 1950 then you will need to add that base board one way or another.

That is my understanding of the heat issue - but - consult you city or township and if need be your attorney.

I hope it helps

Jamin Jones
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 2, 2010
What a property is assessed as and what is "legal conforming" are 2 separate issues. There used to be very lax building code enforcement and only in the last 15 to 20 years have you seen more and more people, insurance companies & lenders paying close attention to construction that is properly permitted. You talked to the right people when you searched for what the community views as a legal bedroom. You & your buyers agent should submit this documentation with any offer as the basis for your offered price. The listing agent is required to send along all offers to the "owners" and might have reason to investigate/disclose these conditions although with bank owned properties there's a grey area on disclosure. This is where working with an experienced short sale buyers agent will greatly assist you in crafting your offer to address this and any other issues.

Hope that helps,
Web Reference: http://www.MedfordHouse.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 29, 2010
Ok, I am pleased to provide an answer on this one, as its been the basis for serious debate among everyone for many years, the only real documented definition in the state of Ma that I've been able to find over the years is the DEP Title V code Title 5, 310 CMR 15.002 here is the link: http://www.learntitle5.org/310cmr15.pdf

According to the state code: (and I would say that any local codes would apply as well and may be different by town)
Bedroom - A room providing privacy, intended primarily for sleeping and consisting of all
of the following:
(a) floor space of no less than 70 square feet;
(b) for new construction, a ceiling height of no less than 7'3";
(c) for existing houses and for mobile homes, a ceiling height of no less than 7'0";
(d) an electrical service and ventilation; and
(e) at least one window.
Living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, halls, bathrooms, unfinished cellars and unheated
storage areas over garages are not considered bedrooms. Single family dwellings shall be
presumed to have at least three bedrooms. Where the total number of rooms for single family
dwellings exceeds eight, not including bathrooms, hallways, unfinished cellars and unheated
storage areas, the number of bedrooms presumed shall be calculated by dividing the total
number of rooms by two then rounding down to the next lowest whole number. The
applicant may design a system using design flows for a smaller number of bedrooms than are
presumed in this definition by granting to the approving authority a deed restriction limiting
the number of bedrooms to the smaller number.

Notice it mentions ventilation which would likely mean heat in my best guess, but may not. And it DOES NOTmention a CLOSET. I've also heard that the ceiling height requirements on older homes must be 7ft or more for at least 75% of the ceiling height.

Finally I would add that the marketing agent likely used public records as most agents do to determine the amount of bedrooms as thats whats been used by the town for tax purposes. So if the city is considering it 2 bedrooms it likely is ok in that city...and of course it could also be a mistake that needs to be corrected by the town assessor.

Hope this helps!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 2, 2010
Hi Everyone. Thank you for your input. I will say that I'm still extremely frustrated. Obviously everyone gives a different answer, including the building inspectors! I spoke with 2 different inspectors and got 2 different answers. If the building inspectors, health inspectors and assessors can't come to an agreement on 1 definition then how do they expect anyone else to understand the codes?! We are all wrong. Although the heatlh codes make reference to heat it is only for rentals. From what I can find there isn't anything in the CMR building codes that define what a bedroom is or that is must have heat. All it says is a min. SF amount, ceiling height, ventilation requirements etc ..

What is wrong with these codes? I think some changes need to made. A bedroom in my opinion should be heated! I think there needs to be some central regulations as well so that appraisers, inspectors, realtor listings etc ... all have the same rules regarding what a bedroom is and what you can list as one. Disgusted....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 2, 2010
I have a four bedroom and there is only one that is heated. The others are heated via heat radiating from the first floor and electric heating units. It is allowed under MGL. I agree there should be changes made and a conforming set of rules to follow. Every time I go to another Realtor training class, I either a) learn something supporting something I already knew, or b) learn something that contradicts something I already knew.
Flag Fri Nov 22, 2013
The building inspector is right, but different banks do different things. Yes technically it is a two bedroom even though one is not heated, it could be grandfathered in if the house it that old. Some banks count square footage in basements for appraisals.
What you are asking is price. Everything is negotiable. My suggestion is to look around at other homes with heated bedrooms if you don't like the price.
Warm regards
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 30, 2010
This is my understandinfg of it as I just went through it.

If the home was built without heat in the room - and - no renovations have taken place on the property then it is grandfathered in prior to approx 1950.

If any portion of the property was renovated then heat is required and electric baseboard should do the trick.

Remember it isn't so much the laws that twist your knickers , its what the lenders want in order to hand over the cash.

I hope that helps - J

Jamin Jones
Century 21 Northshore
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 29, 2010
Every town is different. I cannot see this room being grandfathered in for safety or basic need. Make an offer - you nev er know - if you do get it - rememberr the resale value. If I can be of assistaNce, please contact me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 29, 2010
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