Reuben Saltzman

“Non-Conforming Bedroom?” How About “Not A Bedroom”

Last week I wrote about how bedrooms don’t need closets to legally be called bedrooms.  That post got me thinking about this similar but opposite topic.  If a room doesn’t have a proper means of egress, why call it a non-conforming bedroom?

I’ve only heard the term “non-conforming bedroom” applied to bedrooms in the basement that have very small windows that would be tough to get out of.  As I mentioned last week, there are a ton of requirements for bedrooms – ceiling height, natural light, ventilation, heat, electric outlets, etc.  Why not call a bedroom non-conforming if it doesn’t have any one of these things?

Another phenomenon I’ve noticed is that bedrooms only get labeled non-conforming if the windows are really tiny, and the bedroom is in the basement.

What about a basement bedroom with huge windows but tiny window wells that don’t allow for proper egress?  Or deep wells without ladders?  Or large basement windows that aren’t quite large enough to meet egress requirements?  These never get labeled non-conforming… yet they certainly don’t conform.

Egress WindowsEggess Window Well

Another one is bedrooms on the first floor that don’t have proper egress windows – just look at about half of the old ramblers in Bloomington and you’ll see what I mean.  Some of these windows would be almost impossible for anyone to get out of.  I’ve never seen these houses listed as “zero-bedroom” houses.

I would love it if the real estate community could figure out exactly what makes a bedroom a bedroom, and be consistent with it.  Stop calling rooms ‘non-conforming’.   It just confuses people when I come along and say that none of the bedroom windows are ‘conforming’.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email – Bloomington Home Inspector

No responses to ““Non-Conforming Bedroom?” How About “Not A Bedroom””

  1. Chad
    August 29, 2009, 9:33 pm

    Is it Non Conforming or is it Legally Nonconforming?

    This is the question? And the answer goes a long way into determining how a property should be listed (advertised) and presented to home buyers. More over, it maybe more important to determine how viable the property is then for the prospective buyer.

    First one needs to understand how something that is, today, considered to be nonconforming or illegal by code and or ordinance can also be legal (or permitted to remain).

    Will first assume that at sometime the building was legal. This may address your question with some of those ramblers in Bloomington.

    Nonconformance typically occurs when codes and or ordinances are added or changed by a regulatory body (ICC or Federal, State, County, or City government). These changes will have altered, added or removed definitions to requirements. In this case, sleeping area (may not just affect bedrooms) egress windows.

    Legaly Nonconformances arise as a solution by any one of the regulatory bodies to allow an existing legal structures to remain legal. There are often conditions placed, as to how long these nonconforming instances may remain. Conditions such as change in ownership, change in use (such as converting a church into a single family home), or some improvement threshold to the structure; while possibly allowing for maintenance (repair and replacement) to continue a noncorformity.

    It is therefore necessary to do a little homework to better understand the implications for the use (and future) of this structure. Same question would be: Can the existing structure ever be brought up to code, if altered?

    Just remember, that these issues, and how they are enforced, will vary by jurisdiction.

    Happy property hunting.

  2. Egress Window Quiz | Reuben's Home Inspection Blog
    November 6, 2009, 7:17 am

    […] RELATED POST: Non-Conforming Bedroom?  How About ‘Not A Bedroom’? […]

  3. Levi Brown
    July 27, 2010, 7:06 pm

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  4. Waukesha Home Inspector
    June 14, 2011, 10:00 pm

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