What Makes a Bedroom a Bedroom?

***Since I wrote this in 2006, the code has been updated: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/citycode/article/18210 There is still no mention of a closet being required.

How many bedrooms does that house you’re looking at really have? Often in listings, we will see “third bedroom non-conforming.” Non-conforming to what? One common misconception is that it has to have a closet.

Ben Howell, Plans Examiner for the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) for the City of Portland explains:

For building code requirements a legal bedroom in a one- or two-family dwelling must have the following:

1. Minimum width: 7 feet

2. Minimum ceiling height: 7 feet (rooms with sloped ceilings must have at least 35 square feet at least 7 feet high with not less than 35 square feet 5 feet high)

3. Egress window (see Windows brochure)

4. Smoke detector

5. There may be other requirements, depending on the proposal

6. The building code does not require a closet


If an attic, basement or garage is being converted to a bedroom, the city of Portland has special standards for existing one- or two-family dwellings (see brochure).

Our web site has lots of other good information: http://www.portlandonline.com/bds

Leave a Reply