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room additions

I recently rented a house that was listed as a 3 bedroom. Upon moving in, it was realized that the 3rd room was actually an addition that was done to the home. That isn't where my question lies. The house has central ac, and forced heat, the "3rd" room has no ac vents, no actual door(only some privacy sliders), only 3 outlets and is not near a bathroom(other side of the house) We had to run the ac and heater higher than usual to cool/heat it or use space heaters and fans. The closet is not a bedroom closet, but more of a broom closet. I live in Las Vegas, NV and seeing how the property will be listed again, I want to warn people of this. My actual question is whether or not this addition is actually considered as a bedroom. Every real estate site shows it as a 2 bed 2 bath, with renovations done 3 years after purchase. Rental sites(including Zillow), show it as a 3 bedroom. I can't find any codes or permits pulled for the remodel, so any input here would be helpful. Thank you
  • June 05 - Paradise
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Answers (5)

part 3 - (You have to read this post from the earliest to the last, which is this one)   One last thing; you mentioned electrical outlets to the room.  In Clark County, in order to meet Building code requirements, there needs to be an electrical outlet along every 8 feet of wall space, and one has to be within 4 feet of a door.  When a room is converted, this needs to be addressed.  In the case of already existing indoor space, this is probably already present, unless you are putting up a large wall that is more than 8 feet long.  In which case an outlet may not be within 4 feet of the door, depending on where you put the door.  But with a converted garage or covered patio, it needs to be planned into the remodel, and because of the potentially hazardous nature of electricity, it needs to be permitted as well.

So David, a room without a closet is not legally considered a bedroom and a Realtor is prohibited from representing it as such.  A room that does not have heating and air conditioning is also not allowed to be considered into the square footage of a home.  The reason you see it one way on the Realtor generated Real Estate sites is because the data is populated automatically from the County records, while info from Zillow (depending on the source) and some of the rental sites is manually input.

Long answer to a simple question, but others may benefit from your question and the answer as well.

Best of luck and thanks for reading.

  • June 06
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In the strictest terms, for a room to be functional in modern architectural terms, certain things need to be present.  First, in the instance of a bedroom, one should not have to go through any other bedroom or a bathroom in order to get to the bedroom.  If you do, it is not a bedroom.  Also, if it doesn't have a closet, it cannot be called a bedroom.  Lastly, it has to have a functioning window with an opening at least 20x24 (that is tiny) for egress  with a sill height no higher than 44 inches off the floor.  Putting carpet or tile in a garage does not necessarily make it a family room.  There is more to it, as you will see below.  

Secondly, issues of habitability come into play - especially in Las Vegas - with regard to heating and air conditioning.  If the room is not adequately heated and air conditioned, it cannot be called a bedroom or Great Room, or whatever you consider its function. Which brings us to structural changes and building permits.

 If you are converting a room that has air-conditioning and are not changing the structural nature of the home, meaning specifically not affecting any load bearing walls, a permit is not likely needed.  For instance, recently a friend of mine who doesn't find any use for a formal Dining room, put a wall up between the living room and the dining room, a double door, and made an office off their living room.  I was surprised at just how nice it looked and that the Dining room which was no more was not missed.  (They also enclosed an area from the dining room into the kitchen making a nice pantry... but I digress).  This change did not require a building permit as it did not affect the airflow or access and egress in the home.  If you convert a garage into a room, to be able to include it in the square footage of the home, it has to have adequate (read that "engineered") air conditioning and heating.  This requires at very least pulling ducting into the space.  Unfortunately there are 2 problems with this.  If for instance you are converting a garage space, providing adequate (engineered) airflow to the space often requires more than a single duct and the location of those ducts has to be considered to properly address airflow to the space.  Secondly, there is the issue of adequately engineered tonnage of heating and cooling power to the entire house.  The A/C system was only engineered to the square footage of the home without any additions.  By requiring it to cool and heat additional square footage, the system is over-taxed and besides having to work too harder to cool or heat the space, it cannot do it adequately, and the entire home suffers from the not being warm enough in the winter, or cool enough in the summer.  The result is that you find yourself closing off rooms so you can positively affect the effectiveness of the system.  In other words, in order to do it right, a new, higher rated A/C system needs to be engineered and installed into the home.  These things may require a permit to install as the building department wants to insure that the appropriate energy efficiency calculations have been done.  By the way, when you do pull the permit, you will have to meet new, more stringent building codes, which may have a cascading effect on some of the other components you are touching with your remodel.

  • June 06
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Simply state exactly what you said here to cover your butt from future lawsuits. Ask a Realtor or title rep to pull your county records to see how it is listed and but that on any and all MLS listings. What is listed on your county/public records is what is permitted as LIVING SPACE. Anything typically is NOT and probably is not insurable. You don't want to sell it only to have the next owner die in a fire from a poorly constructed addition - youll be on the hook.... especially after calling it out here on Zillow....
  • June 06
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Hello David,

You have asked a great question.  We see people make "improvements" to their homes a lot, especially if the home is more than 30 years old.  As lifestyles change, so do architectural tastes and for lack of a better term, Home living needs.
 
Unfortunately, as with beauty, function, utility, and quality are all in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes fit and finish or actually utility are only evident for the person who made the "improvement".  Sometimes when we think we are adding value, we are actually introducing a functional obsolescent feature to the home.  For instance in the case of a Garage conversion, the square footage of a Family room adds to the value of a home.  The elimination of a Garage (if garages are common to the area) takes away value.  So the net added value is less than one might hope for.  Example: the added square footage (if it is legally considered - we will discuss what is "legally considered" in a second) may add $20 per square foot, the loss of garage may deduct $15 per square foot, so the net gain is only $5 per square foot. I share that for anyone who may be considering converting their garage.   

  • June 06
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Hi David,
That gets to be a sticky situation.  If the home has a door, windows and a closet it is considered a bedroom.  Whether it was done legally (i.e with permits) or not is something that can be looked up by going through the county building department.

Was the home leased through a property management company, or did you deal directly with the owner of the property?  Have a conversation with either of them, express your concerns, and let them know that they should fix this prior to re-renting the property.

While not mandatory, sometimes it helps working with a Broker.  If nothing else, having another set of eyes looking at a property will help catch some things that were missed; like no forced air/heat, etc.

Very best of luck on your next search.  
  • June 06
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