If you’re anything like me, you love a good home renovation show. And what’s one of the first things they talk about when evaluating a home? Room count, of course!
But what exactly does a room count include? And why’s it so significant? Let’s dive in and find out the answers to these questions and more.
Why Is Knowing What A Room Count Includes Important?
First of all, why does it matter what a room count includes? For starters, the room count impacts your home value. More bedrooms and bathrooms lead to more value. Of course, the room count can also affect how functional and livable the house is.
Many people select homes based on the number of rooms, and for good reasons. If you’re a family of five, for example, you’re probably not looking for a one or two-bedroom home.
What Does A Room Count Include?
First things first, let’s define what a room count is. Put simply, a room count is the number of rooms in a home that are counted for valuation purposes. It includes all livable rooms like bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens.
Bedrooms have their own set of special requirements. We have the International Residential Code (IRC) to thank for bedroom size requirements, which are 70 total square feet and a minimum of 7 feet in length or width.
Bedrooms also have to have at least one emergency exit, ceilings at least 7 feet from the floor, and a door that leads into the rest of the house.
There are two types of bathrooms when it comes to room counts: full baths and half-baths. Bathrooms only count as separate rooms when they have at least a toilet and sink (half-bath). When they also have bathtubs or showers, they’re full baths.
Some appraisers or agents call for size requirements, but that varies depending on where the house is located.
Now, kitchens are a bit more flexible. Let’s just say the guidelines for kitchen counts have gray areas. Basically, kitchens must have enough space for things like refrigerators, ovens, or fancy air fryers.
Beyond that, there aren’t too many specifications. Factors like the layout and size aren’t strictly defined.
Living & Dining Rooms
As you learned with kitchens, living and dining rooms have more relaxed requirements than bedrooms and bathrooms. Even so, there are some specifications to keep in mind.
For one, living rooms must have a separate entrance to count in your room count. Generally, they have to have space for seating and maybe a nice coffee table or a couple of side tables.
Some areas require that a “living room” must have a fireplace!
To be included in your room count, a dining room should be separate from the kitchen and living room. In other words, just because you stick a dining table in the corner of your living room doesn’t mean you can count it as two “rooms”!
In some cases, depending on the appraiser or region, your dining room would also need to have a formal entrance to count as a separate room. It may need some other distinguishing feature, like a certain layout or size.
So, best to check with your local appraiser or agent on this one!
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “What about other areas like basements, attics, or garages?” Great question! These spaces are typically not included in the room count. Why, you ask?
Well, while they might be functional, they’re not technically considered living spaces. In fact, they are often not included in the square footage of the house. This is a good segway to review the difference between room count and square footage.
Room Count vs. Square Footage
Now, keep in mind that room count is different than square footage. The room count calculates the number of habitable rooms.
On the other hand, the square footage measures the actual space in your home. Both are influential when evaluating a home, even though they measure different things.
No doubt, they’re interrelated. Consider the bedroom example from above. A bedroom won’t be counted in the room count unless it meets certain square footage requirements.
So, in that sense, you should consider these two measurements hand-in-hand. With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper into other factors that affect your room count.
Factors That Can Impact A Room Count
Factors like zoning regulations, building codes, and renovations can impact the accuracy of a room count. If you’re a homeowner and you add an extra bedroom without a permit, for instance, that extra room might not be in the official room count.
Zoning Regulations and Building Codes
I know it’s not the most glamorous topic, but you must check out local regulations and codes. They require certain room sizes and configurations that affect your room count.
This applies to bedrooms, as discussed, but it may also apply to other living spaces.
Let’s say you’re looking at a home with a “bonus room” that the previous homeowners graciously remodeled. Well, bonus rooms and attics can make for pleasant stays after considerable remodeling, but they might not be added to the room count.
Definitions of “Room”
Not all rooms are created equal. Different appraisers or agents might have different definitions of what a “room” is. For instance, a home office might not be a “bedroom” even if you could technically live and sleep in it.
Functionality and Home Layout
Think about open floor plans for a moment. A home with such a floor plan might have fewer defined rooms than a home with a more traditional layout. If the “living room” and “dining room” have no physical partition, the room count will be lower.
On that note, though, open floor plans with a lower room count don’t necessarily have a lower home value than traditional homes with higher room counts.
Location and Market Demand
How can we talk about real estate without mentioning location? No doubt, location and market demand impact room count. In some areas, homes with larger room counts might be more desirable and more valuable.
In other markets, homes with fewer rooms might have a leg-up when it comes to demand.
So, there you have it: a full guide to what a room count includes. When buying or selling a home, it’s essential to understand the room count. With this valuable information, you can more accurately evaluate your home’s value and livability.
And remember, the room count is just one part of the puzzle when it comes to evaluating homes, but it’s one you shouldn’t leave out!
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