What Is A Bedroom? Know What’s Required

The intricately detailed teak door opens, and you set foot into the space encrusted with your footprints. Off white walls, minimalistic décor, a vintage lamp on the side table that throws shade onto the floral bedspread, and long silky drapes dance about in the slight breeze. This bedroom brags of elegance.

In the same house on the opposite side of the hallway, the door puts forth a large “do not disturb” poster. Not heeding to the false seriousness of the sign, the door paves the way to an unmade bed, a chair for a closet, a broken lampshade, and dust. Dust everywhere.

Not considering the personality of the occupant, several parameters constitute a bedroom. Whether it’s the size or the placement of the openings inside, a bedroom must adhere to those factors.

These building code constraints are essential for a bedroom to receive the designation of habitable space. The International Residential Code set out these regulations in partnership with local building departments to maximize safety, comfort, and practicality.

If you’re looking for renovation or repair work on your bedroom, these regulations are a must for you to follow. In such a case, a residential architect is the best person who could guide you.

Primary Rules

Like any state, New Jersey lays out a tried and tested housing code to establish premium living standards for its people. Its basis is the degree of habitability.

Whenever there’s a platform for new construction or residential design in New Jersey, a local architect must know about these regulations to accommodate prospective clients.


Net Floor Area

The occupancy standards for a bedroom in New Jersey state that each room to sleep in by one occupant only must contain at least 70 sq. ft. of floor space. Each room that designates sleeping purposes for more than one occupant must have at least 50 sq. ft. of floor space per occupant. The said occupants in these cases will not count children under the age of one year.

In existing structures built before 1951, if any housing unit has no room at least 10 feet by 12 feet, two occupants shall be allowed to sleep in the largest room as long as it is nine feet in size in the least dimension.

The townships in New Jersey must strictly adhere to this principle with the intent of constructing a bedroom.


Maximum Occupants

The occupancy of a dwelling unit is a critical factor to consider when it comes to bedrooms. According to Article VII of the New Jersey Code of Ordinances, there’s a limitation on the maximum number of occupants in each bedroom per dwelling unit.

Occupancy of rooming units having only one bedroom or habitable room, except for those in dormitories, a hotel or motel shall be for two persons only.


Use of Bedrooms as Passageways

Each bedroom must have access to one lavatory and water closet without having to pass through another bedroom.

Unless the housing unit contains a single bedroom, bedrooms can’t be the only way to access other habitable spaces.


Minimum Height of the Ceiling

For a bedroom to qualify as a habitable space, the minimum ceiling height should be seven feet. Some bedrooms may have a sloped ceiling, but as long as one-half of the floor space possesses a ceiling height of seven feet, you’re safe.

Nowadays, most bedrooms exhibit a minimum ceiling height of eight feet. So, even if Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was to enter your bedroom, there would not be a need for him to bend his knees (except when maybe he goes through your doorway)!


Means of Egress

Egress windows are an essential requirement in all newly-constructed buildings in the United States of America, with each state working out its prerequisites on the sizes.

For the egress window, New Jersey primarily follows the regulations laid out by the International Residential Code. However, New Jersey has modified some of the rules to tighten these requirements.

The International Residential Code states that the minimum width and height of the window must be the minimum net clear opening area and the maximum height of the window above the floor.

The prerequisite is a window twenty-four inches high by twenty inches wide in size with a maximum sill level of forty-four inches. It must also have a net clear opening of five sq. ft. on the first floor.

According to the New Jersey Building Code, the specification for an egress window must have a minimum clear opening height of 24 inches and a minimum clear opening width of twenty inches. It is required to have an area of clear opening of 5.7 square feet and can be reduced to 5.0 square feet for windows at grade level.

Along with providing a large enough space for the occupants of a building to escape in time of a fire, the function of the egress window is to allow convenient access for a fire-fighter carrying the equipment.

The net clear area of the window is such that it prevents the firefighting equipment from being stuck or blocked.


Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detection

For smoke detection, the New Jersey Building Code emphasizes the use of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. The installation of these alarms isn’t a precondition for the issuance of a permit for rehabilitation, reconstruction, renovation, or repair work. However, the construction official must notify the applicant that these alarms need to be installed.

When smoke or carbon monoxide alarms were installed as part of the original construction, they need to be maintained.

The prerequisites for smoke alarms are as follows:

  • Smoke alarms need to be present on each level of the housing unit including the basement and outside (ten feet) of each separate sleeping area inside the bedroom. They might be placed on the ceiling or within twelve inches of the ceiling on the wall.
  • Smoke alarms can be battery operated but can’t replace a household fire alarm system.
  • The installation of battery-operated smoke alarms in the state of New Jersey doesn’t require a permit.

The prerequisites for carbon monoxide alarms are as follows:

  • Carbon Monoxide alarms must be installed in buildings that have an attached garage or contain a fuel-burning appliance.
  • In the case of one and two-family dwelling units, carbon monoxide alarms need to be installed in the vicinity of each sleeping area in the bedroom when the building has an attached garage or contains a fuel-burning appliance.
  • These alarms could be placed anywhere on the ceiling or the wall.
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms are permitted to be hard-wired, battery-operated, or the plug-in type. The installation of the battery-operated or the plug-in type alarm doesn’t require a permit.

The smoke detectors present inside the bedrooms must be greater than three feet from a ceiling fan if one is present inside the room.

In the case of a bedroom with an ensuite, the smoke alarm needs to be three feet away from bathrooms with showers or tubs. A smoke alarm within twenty feet of your bathroom could be the photoelectric type.

Photoelectric alarms seem to be a decent choice for installations near the bathrooms. It contains a light-emitting diode and a sensor inside a chamber. These sensors are more equipped for detecting fires that generate large amounts of smoke.



Bedrooms and other habitable spaces must be ventilated either employing natural or mechanical ventilation.

Natural ventilation shall be through louvers, windows, doors, or any other openings to the outside. The operating mechanism for these shall be equipped with ready access so that these openings are controllable to the occupants.

The ventilation area required shall be four percent of the total floor area being ventilated. In the case of bedrooms without openings to the outdoors are being ventilated via an adjoining room, the opening must be unobstructed and possess an area not less than eight percent of the floor area of the adjoining room and be not less than twenty-five sq. ft.

Mechanical ventilation should be through a method of supply air and exhaust air. The amount of supply air could be approximately in the same range as the return and exhaust air.

The mechanical ventilation system must be following the duct system regulations set by the New Jersey Mechanical Code.


Natural Light

Every bedroom must have at least one window or skylight which can adequately light up the room along with ventilating it. The bedrooms located on the south side are privy to the natural daylight during the day.

Your residential architect may suggest you place your kitchen on the eastern side to utilize the morning sun while the habitable spaces in the southern and northern sides to harness the natural light during the day. Of course this is all contingent upon your homes orientation!


So, these are the preconditions that allow a space to be a bedroom. Floor area, ceiling height, or ventilation are just some of the constraints that your residential architect must have a hold over so that the construction is smooth and free from hassles.

So why not get in touch today?

And it’s always a smart idea to be updated about the changes in the codes and regulations for yourself. After all, a house might be a house but the bedroom is your home.