Everyone loves getting something extra, but it may not always be immediately clear just what you’re getting.
Take a look at 209 South Hill Boulevard, a truly beautiful two bed, one bath Crocker-Amazon house that just listed on Redfin for a hair under $1.1 million. (Note that some listings mistakenly call the street just Hill Boulevard.)
Among other things, the ad for this Spanish-style 1927 home promises “a hidden bonus room on the lower level.”
To the uninitiated, “hidden bonus room” probably sounds like an interesting game show prospect, or an easter egg in an old arcade cabinet. But what does this actually mean in real estate terms?
Here’s the simplest way to put it: A bonus room is a space that probably seems like it should be a bedroom, but for some technical reason it doesn’t count as one.
What exactly is the definition of a bedroom? For anyone who has never had to answer a question like this it probably sounds like some sort of Lewis Carroll-grade absurdism, but cities and states do in fact have legal definitions of such terms.
Among other things, in California:
- A bedroom has to be at least 70 square feet, and both the ceiling and at least one wall have to measure a minimum of seven feet.
- A bedroom must have at least one window or additional door that allows for outside egress in case of fire or other emergency.
- Additionally, a bedroom must have windows or skylights that allow a certain degree of natural light. Such windows must measure at least eight percent of a bedroom’s total area.
- A bedroom must have working smoke detectors and be capable of being heated to at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are more requirements–and they can get pretty specific.
Point is, if you have a room that fails to meet one or all of these criteria, you can’t legally call it a bedroom, or market it as such for the purposes of selling or renting. Some such rooms are quite fetching, and you’d never know the difference between them and a “real” bedroom; others may have a decidedly piecemeal look to them, especially if they were additions long after the rest of the unit.
These spaces end up labeled as “bonus room,” “home offices,” “workout rooms,” or any number of other suggests/euphemisms. This can be a bit of a pain, since it may artificially deflate the room count on simple search metrics–but rules are rules.
Of course, many people end up sleeping in such a room anyway–but mum’s the word on that. Incidentally, housing writer Adriana Velez notes that while a bonus room handily bumps up the square footage on your home, since it doesn’t count as a bedroom it doesn’t count toward your property taxes. The bonus that keeps on giving, it seems.
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