Home Buying in Great Falls>Question Details

Sarah Wallace, Home Buyer in Great Falls, MT

What constitutes as a bedroom? I live in Montana and am looking to buy a house they claim is a three bedroom

Asked by Sarah Wallace, Great Falls, MT Wed Jun 18, 2008

one bath. The third bedroom has the only access to the bathroom and the only access to the second floor stairwell to the bedroom upstairs and does not have a closet. The house was built in 1900. Is it technically a three bedroom home?

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Keith Sorem’s answer
A few key points:
A bedroom in most areas is defined as: dimensions 8' x 8' x 8'
A window large enough for a fireman to enter

However, in older homes the features are probably grandfathered. It may be that at the time the property was constructed the standards were different, so that brings to "market value".

The true measure is "what was a bedroom in 1900?".
The other possibility is that this 'third bedroom" was in fact created after the initial construction. It is not uncommon in older homes to have additions or modifications.

In most areas when a house is built, a building permit is issued. When that permit is completed and signed off, it is recorded by the county recorder. The county assessor then bases their assessment of the property are permitted work. You should be able to go to the county recorder's office and get copies of the original building permit.

If changes are made, in order for them to be valid, they need to be permitted. If the property was built as a two bedroom, and then an owner needed a third bedroom, they had two options:
1. do the work without obtaining a permit - which means from the government's perspective the work never happened.
2. Do the worth with a permit, meaning that the work is approved, the permit completed, and then recorded.

Technically only permitted work has value. If a home had a third bedroom added, say 200 square feet, including a foundation, walls, and a roof, and the work was completed without a permit, and there was a fire, the insurance would not pay for the reconstruction of the third bedroom.

If the bedroom was added with a permit, then the assessor would have added 200 square feet to the property , and a third bedroom, and the property taxes would have been raised.

So you can tell a great deal from the permits and county records.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 13, 2009
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
The simple version:
A sleeping room, aka bedroom, requires the following: A source of natural light (8% of the floor area) a minimum of which 50% shall be openable, a minimum horizontal dimension of 7 ft, a minimum ceiling height of 7'-6", code complying means of emergency egress, a source of permanent heat, and a smoke alarm.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 21, 2014
Technically I would not call it a bedroom since there is a stairwell in it. More likely an office or den. Though many older homes like that in Great Falls used a similar configuration with the bathroom off of one of the bedrooms. Since most homes in Great Falls have basements, these bedrooms become an issue also. Basement bedrooms should have egress windows for safety. Otherwise, we call them non-conforming bedrooms.
Web Reference: http://www.DougMaas.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 12, 2009
There is some disagreement among realtors as to what constitutes a bedroom. Generally, I would tell you that if a room is of adequate size for a bed, has a window and has a closet, that it is a bedroom. Some agents believe that a room must have a window adequate for egress to be considered a bedroom. You should make the decision for yourself as to how you'll use the room to determine if it's a bedroom.

In your particular situation, Ii would not consider it a bedroom for listing purposes as it has no closet and must be accessed to get to the bath and stairs. I'd guess this room was originally intended as a parlor or dining area. Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 19, 2008
My guess is the current owner is using it as a bedroom, so it is being called a bedroom. Normally in Great Falls, a closet is a must to be called a bedroom. Otherwise it is considered an office or den. Is this on our MLS? or is it for sale by owner? As Pam said, it is difficult to tell without seeing this situation
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 19, 2008

Heating, ventilation, natural lighting and the closet is debatable. Your situation is difficult to tell without seeing it. Sounds as if there are quite a few pass throughs.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 18, 2008
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in Danville, VA
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