How is a DC bedroom legally defined? Code says; As "Any room or space used or intended to be used for sleeping purposes in either a dwelling or sleeping unit." But there are specific code requirements, too.
You'd love to list it as a two bedroom, but is is that extra room a bonafide bedroom, or a den, office, sitting room, alcove or loft? Does your DC bedroom meet code requirements? Read on to find out, and be sure to click me at the bottom of the page to get started on your DC home selling adventure!

Basic Code Requirements For DC Bedrooms
  • Size | Single-occupancy bedrooms must be a minimum of 70 SF of floor space, and 7' in one direction. For each additional person occupying the same room, add 50 additional SF to the floor space requirement. Ceilings must be a min. of 7' in height, or in the case of sloped or drop-ceilings, a 50%-plus portion must be at least 7'.

  • Access | Direct bedroom access must be available from a common space or hallway, not via another bedroom or bath.

  • Lighting and Ventilation | Every space intended for human occupancy must have natural light by means of exterior glazed openings in accordance with Section 1205.2 of the Building Code and artificial light may not be used to meet the lighting requirements for bedrooms, living rooms and/or sleeping units. Windows must have a total combined glass area of at least 8% of the floor area, and the combined opened window area should be at least 4% (i.e.; your windows should open at least halfway).

  • 402.1.1.1 Adjoining Spaces | For the purpose of natural lighting, any room is permitted to be considered as a portion of an adjoining room where one-half of the area of the common wall is open and unobstructed and provides an opening of not less than one-tenth of the floor area of the interior room or 25 square feet (2.32 m2), whichever is greater. It is permissible for glazing to fill a portion or all of the required opening between adjoining spaces. It is permissible to install doors in openings between adjoining spaces. However, opaque portions of doors shall not contribute to meeting the minimum opening requirement of not less than one-tenth of the floor area of the interior room or 25 square feet (2.32 m2), whichever is greater.  Exception: Openings required for natural light shall be permitted to open into a sunroom with thermal isolation or a patio cover where the common wall provides a glazed area of not less than one-tenth of the floor area of the interior room or 20 square feet (1.86 m2), whichever is greater.

  • Electrical Outlets | At least two.

  • Heating | The heating system must be able to keep the bedroom warm by at least 68 degrees.

  • Fire Safety | Smoke detectors are required in every sleeping room, on every level, and in the vicinity of all sleeping rooms. Carbon-monoxide detectors are required in the vicinity of all sleeping rooms where a fuel-burning appliance or a in a building which has an attached garage. Bars on windows in sleeping rooms shall be releasable or removable from the inside of the room without the use of a key, tool or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the window.

  • Egress | Emergency exits include doors that lead outdoors, or at least one window min. 24" in height by 20" in width, with an opening of at least 5.7 SF. Installation must be higher than  more than 44" from floor, and no lower than 24" to prevent child access.

Light & Ventilation Code Link

To sum up, determining whether or not a Washington DC bedroom is “legal” can be tricky. Start by reviewing building code criteria. If your space seems to fall into a gray area of determination, take measurements, outline the issues, and call the DC Department of Building for an opinion.