What is a Bedroom? The Great Debate!


Via Michael Johnson, REALTOR, ABR – Goose Creek SC (Carolina One Real Estate):

What is a Bedroom?

A few weeks ago some fellow agents and I were touring some of our newest office listings.  Somehow during that time the conversation came up about what qualifies as a bedroom.  I, in all my wisdom and knowledge, chimed in that it has to have a closet.  A few of the others protested and stated that a closet does not factor in when determining if a room is a bedroom.  I’m not sure where I learned the rule of a closet defining a bedroom (probably real estate school) but I felt confident I was correct.  We debated back and forth until one of them pulled out the big gun….he called a local appraiser that we all know.

From the Mouth of an Appraiser:

To my great surprise the appraiser stated that in the Charleston SC area a bedroom is not define by a closet.  Why?  To his understanding, during colonial times houses were taxed based on the number of bedrooms.  The bedrooms were at that time defined by a closet.  So, people got around taxation by building houses with bedrooms without closets, and instead used wardrobes and chifferobe.  He went on to say that if a bedroom was defined by the presence of a closet, that many of the historic houses in downtown Charleston and the surrounding area would not have any bedrooms.  Ultimately, the appraiser stated, a bedroom is defined not by a closet but by use. 

Not wanting to admit defeat, I got back to my office and starting researching the issue.  As a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, the one thing I learned was that if it is not in writing it is probably not a rule.  Surely something as important what is a bedroom would be defined somewhere.  To my surprise our association, CTAR (Charleston Trident Association of Realtor) had nothing in writing defining what makes up a bedroom, and they told me to refer to the local appraisers.  I then began to look up local area building codes.  South Carolina uses the International Code Council.  Per the code the only thing that defines a bedroom is:

  1. Minimum of 70 Square Feet, enclosed, with an entrance (door)
  2. an aggregate glasing area of not less than 8 percent of the floor area (window).
  3. Heated- maintain min temp of 68 degrees (F)

    Is a FROG a Bedroom?
      A FROG is a Fixed Room Over a Garage.  We in the Charleston area live in the “lowcountry” so we don’t have basements, we have FROGs.  Because most homes built in the last 50 years or so have bedrooms that were built with a closet, many people have only considered a FROG a bedroom if it had a closet.  By the definition given above, this is not the case.  If a FROG has the possible use of a bedroom, then it can be considered such. 

    Final Analysis – There is no supporting documentation stating that a bedroom has to have a closet or that it is defined by a closet.  The “use” of the room is the primary question.  Obviously a room with a toilet or a room with a sink is not a bedroom, but if the room is enclosed, heated, and big enough to be a bedroom, then at this time, in the Charleston SC area, it can be defined as a bedroom.

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    If you have a home anywhere in the Charleston Metro Area and would like to get more information about selling your home, please contact me for a free home evaluation. 

    I also work with buyers.  If you are interested in more information about buying a home please contact me and I would be glad to meet with you or email you a list of homes.


    Michael J. Johnson, Realtor, ABR




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    About susanmorrison

    After living in Walpole, MA for many years, our family was transferred to the west coast when I was a senior in high school. In 1983, I graduated from Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, California. I am also a 1987 graduate of Providence College with a major in liberal arts and a minor in business administration. I bring to the table many years of sales experience beginning with thirteen years in Corporate Sales at Delta Air Lines. I'm the mother of three children and I'm very active within the Franklin, MA community. I am also a cancer survivor and support the American Cancer Society Charities.

    My husband and I have built five homes and I've lived in a variety of other locations including Toronto Canada, Irving Texas and my current home in Franklin, MA. As a result of all my moving around, I came to the conclusion that I was an expert at moving...why not become an expert on the other side of the table? I earned my real estate license in 2004 and believe that I have found my true niche'. I can empathize with my clients on a variety of levels; whether they are buying or selling. And, like so many other good realtors out there, I believe that possessing good communication skills is one of the many keys to success.

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