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    What are the Legal Requirements for a Bedroom in Seattle?

    Perhaps your family is growing, you’re considering adding a guest room in the basement, or you simply want to add an additional bedroom to your home. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand what is considered a legal bedroom in the Seattle area and how it differs from an appraiser’s requirements. A bedroom is more than just a space where someone sleeps. There are rules about what must be included for the space to be legally habitable.

    Bedroom Requirements: Appraisal vs. City Standards

    It is worth noting that what the city considers a habitable bedroom and what an appraiser looks for may be different. In Seattle, the minimum size a room must be to consider it a bedroom is 70 square feet and must measure a minimum of 7 feet in all directions. This also includes the code requirement that all habitable spaces must have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet.

    The other main requirement is emergency exit access. In many cases, this comes in the form of an egress window. Adding a new egress window is a common ask for homeowners wanting to add a legal bedroom to their basement. An egress window means ‘to emerge or a path out. Therefore an egress window is required for any room made for sleeping. It is a window that opens so that a human can get out of it, as a secondary escape route from the bedroom door, for safety reasons.

    Many homeowners also assume that a bedroom must have a closet to be ‘complete.’ While this is typically something an appraiser looks for when counting bedrooms, it is not required by the city of Seattle. To make an appraiser happy, an alternative to a built-in closet could be adding a detached wardrobe unit, like a free-standing IKEA system.


    Creating an Additional Bedroom: How Much Value Does it Add?

    When asking how much value an additional bedroom adds to your home, the answer is: it depends. If you have a home that only has 2 bedrooms and you add a third, this will likely positively impact your home's value. If you have a home with 5 bedrooms and you add an additional bedroom, the return on investment will not be exponential. Each bedroom could add a range of $30-50K in additional value to your home, with the exception of diminishing returns the more bedrooms you have.

    What’s more important than a bedroom adding additional monetary value is the ability for an additional bedroom to significantly increase your family’s quality of life. For example, if you have children who share a room, they will eventually need their own space as they age. Creating an additional bedroom would benefit your family in this scenario. Alternatively, an extra bedroom could be an additional source of income if used for a rental or Airbnb or as a home office space until the kids need to be in their own rooms.


    Renovate to Add Value to Your Life

    A trustworthy general contractor would never recommend you remodel for the sole purpose of adding monetary value to your home. You should always approach a remodel with the intent to add value to your life. If you need an additional bedroom, you should create it. If there’s not a good reason to add it, don’t. The return on investment is never guaranteed. Therefore it’s not wise to make home remodeling decisions based on adding to your resale value.

    If you need an additional bedroom, we’ve created resources to help you understand how to get this project started right. Download the eBook “Space planning 101: How to renovate your home layout to improve functionality”.

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    Pete Baughman

    About Pete Baughman

    Home renovation and custom home building have been a part of my life since birth. My great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all Carpenters. It was only natural for me to be drawn to it as well. I worked as a Carpenter and Project lead helping him create and produce many extraordinary projects. My experiences have varied from Carpenter, Lead Carpenter, Project Manager, Production Manager, Project Developer, and Sales Manager. I started with Better Builders in 2011 and, in 2019, became an owner.