Home Buying in San Francisco>Question Details

jenniferchen…, Home Buyer in 94105

Is there a good definition of a "bedroom" in San Francisco?

Asked by jenniferchen716, 94105 Thu Oct 25, 2012

Who knows what the exact definition of a bedroom in SF is? Is there an "exact" definition? Two forms of egress? Closet? Minimum size? Enclosed/not enclosed? Door? I have heard so many different answers that I'm beginning to wonder if there even is a definition at all!!

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A Room with a Bed, In Toronto Canada we have some condos with tiny Condos, if the room has a closet and a Bed it's a Bedroom if no closet it's a Den/Office
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 26, 2012
For a bedroom to be called a bedroom it must be permitted as a bedroom. Even if it has windows, closets and the right size, as others have accurately said, you can't call it a bedroom unless a permit has been issued for that specific use of the space.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 26, 2012
Hi Jennifer,

According to the San Francisco Building Department, a room to be considered a bedroom has to have a window large enough for a person to exit in case of a fire and the room has to have legal ceiling height. There does not have to be a closet in the room to be considered a bedroom.

I hope this helps.

Jessica Waterston
Hill & Co.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 25, 2012
Well done Don. Worthy of bookmarking.

And notice, no closet requirement listed anywhere :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 26, 2012
As Jed says, that depends on the building department's definition. And that'll vary from city to city and state to state. So the only way to get an "exact definition" of a bedroom in San Franciso--and, yes, there will be an exact one--is from the building or codes department.

Here's a recent definition from a determination letter from SF's Planning Department:

According to the 2010 California Building Code, a bedroom is defined as a sleeping unit. Specifically, a
bedroom is:
A room or space in which people sleep, which can also include permanent provisions for
living, eating, and either sanitation or kitchen facilities but not both. Such rooms and
spaces that are also part of a dwelling unit are not sleeping units. [2010 California Building
Code, Title 24, Part 2, Volume 1, Section 202]
In Planning Code Section 102.29, a bedroom is defined as "a ’sleeping room’ as defined in the Building
Code." Zoning Administrator Bulletin No. 7 - Planning Code Interpretations for the Eastern Neighborhoods
further clarifies the definition of bedroom as any room which meets all of the following criteria and
which is subsequently determined by the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) to meet applicable
Building and Housing Code standards:
(1) Contains at least 70 square feet, exclusive of closets, bathrooms, or similar spaces;
(2) Has at least one window opening to an area which leads either to a street or rear yard
space; and,
(3) Is clearly labeled as a ’bedroom’ on submitted plans.

See http://sf-planning.org/ftp/files/LOD/2011/616%2020th%20Stree…

And from another determination letter regarding windows and lighting:
Every space intended for human occupancy shall be provided with natural light by
means of exterior glazed openings in accordance with Section 1205.2 or shall be
provided with artificial light in accordance with Section 1205.3. Exterior glazed
openings shall open directly onto a public way or onto a yard or court in accordance
with Section 1206. [2010 California Building Code 1205.11
• Guest rooms and habitable rooms (excluding kitchens) within a dwelling unit or
congregate residence shall be provided with natural light by means of exterior glazed
openings in accordance with Section 1205.2 [2010 San Francisco Building Code
Amendments 1205.1]
For general light and ventilation requirements, exterior openings for natural light or
ventilation shall open directly onto a public way or a yard or court located on the
same lot as the building [2010 San Francisco Housing Code Amendments Section
• For natural light and ventilation requirements for habitable rooms, the window area
shall not be less than one-twelfth of the floor area or 10 square feet, whichever is
greater. Furthermore, a skylight shall not be permitted when a sleeping room opens
into an enclosed court or sideyard [2010 San Francisco Housing Code Amendments
Section 504(a)].
• Sleeping rooms below the fourth story shall have at least one operable window or
exterior door approved for emergency escape or rescue. The units shall be operable
from the inside to provide a full clear opening without the use of separate tools.
Buildings will additional stories shall provide egress per Chapter 10 of the Building
Code. [2007 San Francisco Housing Code Amendments Section 801(a)(5)]
• In all buildings, in basements, dwelling units, and sleeping units below the fourth
story, said sleeping rooms shall have an emergency egress of 5.7 square feet with
minimum of 20-inch width and 24-inch height and a finished height sill not more
than 44 inches above the floor. See Building Code Section 1026. [2007 San Francisco
Housing Code Amendments Section 801(a)(4)]
See http://sf-planning.org/ftp/files/LOD/2011/616%20-%2020th%20S…

Those are elements of your exact definition. Contact the office on those two determination letters for more information.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 26, 2012
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
As you can see agents are confused also. Luckily we are not the determining party. The only source that can define a bedroom is the planning department and the building department.
My understanding is that it has to have a four walls a door and a window (second egress) that is large enough and at the correct heights for an average adult to crawl out of. It has to be over 7 feet in height and it is supposed to have a closet.
Now all of that is what is needed to construct a new room and call it a bedroom. Obviously the Victorians didn't build closets into bedrooms so there are many spaces that have bedrooms without closets
To avoid liability for our brokerages real estate agents are not supposed to advertise "possibilities". We are supposed to market what is and to also cite a source that gives us the information. In this market typically we use the tax records and the history of building permits to arrive at the bedroom count and the square footage.
Yes there is a definition - of what it takes to build a bedroom now - but other definitions existed before and those rooms are grandfathered in.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 26, 2012
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
I'm quite sure a closet is NOT required. You need a window, and a door, and then there are SqFt and ceiling height requirements. But a closet isn't needed to be considered a bedroom although nearly everyone thinks one is required.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 25, 2012
A bedroom can be any size Jennifer. It does not have to have 2 forms of egress. But it must have a closet and a window. Some people call a room a "bedroom" if there is a closet nearby - across the hall or right outside the room. Others call a room a bedroom without a window or a closet but I really feel those are not bedrooms and should not be labeled as such.

Hope that helps!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 25, 2012
and Sally with the only morally honest reply. Thanks Sally!
Flag Thu Aug 18, 2016
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