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Can a Bedroom Have an Exterior Door? Yes, but Why

Imagine you have just bought a house which has a couple of bedrooms. One of the rooms is going to be used as an office, it has plenty of space and a door which leads outside.

You decide that you do not want to make any changes (e.g., employ an electrician or builder). It makes more sense to keep things simple and utilize the existing door.

The big question is whether you can do this? Can a bedroom have an exterior door? Will it meet building regulations?

As any architect will tell you, a bedroom can have an exterior door if the required safety features are incorporated into the design. In fact, many homeowners choose to install a sliding glass patio door onto the second-floor master bedroom for easy access to their patio, deck or balcony.

This meets the building code and safety regulations for having an entrance and an exit to the bedroom.

To learn more about bedroom safety, this post will shed some light on the importance of exterior doors.

Can a bedroom have an exterior door?

The exterior door of your house is a very important and significant door. This door provides you protection and entrance into your house.

What’s more, you can be relieved since the exterior door provides privacy to your family and yourself. It is very comfortable for most of us if our house has its own front door.

What’s even more relaxing than checking in the bedroom after a day of work or school.

People also need to use their bedrooms as a place for indoor activities like doing homework, watching TV, reading books, etc.

Well, what will you get if your bedroom has an exterior door?

Main reason is that an exterior door can provide an exit to safety in case of emergency. You don’t need to open into another space or room to get out or escape from the bedroom.

Well, having your own front door is still okay but it would be more convenient if there is an exterior door in the bedroom.

According to the International Residential Code (IRC), there must be two ways out of the room.

Each state has building safety codes, and one of the reasons there are window requirements in a bedroom is because it provides an exit in the event of fire.

Also, there can be an issue if you have a bedroom without windows facing the street and your window air conditioner quits.

On the other hand, bedrooms usually don’t have exterior doors by default.

Exterior doors are not really necessary in this room as the windows provide decent ventilation and route of escape.

You can only have a bedroom without an exterior door if the window has specified dimensions.

The window of the bedroom must have an opening area and height that’s at least 24 inches high and 20 inches wide.

What defines a bedroom?

If you have a bedroom that is separate from the main living area in your house, then it likely has an exterior door. 

That’s how most of us would define a bedroom: a room used to sleep in that is not part of the living space.

Now, if you live in a studio apartment, this definition may not work for you because you may not have a “bedroom” at all. Your kitchen, living room and dining area are likely one large space with no dividing walls.

Nonetheless, even if you cannot have a “bedroom” in the traditional sense, it doesn’t mean that your space cannot serve that purpose.

In order, to define a bedroom comprehensively, there are 4 elements that contribute to what makes a room a “bedroom”:

  1. Exterior door:  Because we typically think of bedrooms as having an exterior door, this is the first indicator that you are entering a bedroom. A bedroom needs two exits: a door accessible from the house, and one other exit, usually a window.
  1. Escape route: Your bedroom should have 1 or 2 escape routes.  An escape route is a way to exit the room besides the door you used to enter. If you are in your “bedroom” and need to leave for whatever reason, such as an emergency, you must be able to get out quickly without having to go back through the same door you used to enter.  This means there needs to be a window or exterior door.  
  1. Ceiling height: The typical ceiling height in a bedroom is 7-9 feet. A 9 foot ceiling indicates a bedroom. Ceiling heights lower than 8 feet are typically found in basements and attics to conserve space. If you have an attic, basement or another room with low ceilings that doesn’t serve as your bedroom or any other function of the home, then you can reclaim that space.
  1. Size:  Bedrooms typically measure between 130 and 219 square feet. This is sufficient space for a bed, desk and other furniture such as a dresser or side table. If you decide to squeeze a little bit, a bedroom should not go less than 70 square feet, and a horizontal measurement in any direction cannot be shorter than seven feet.

Can you use your basement as a bedroom?

A common question is whether or not you can use your basement as a bedroom. 

There are many things to consider, but for the most part observe the egress code for rescue purposes.

Fire fighters must have the ability to rescue people in an emergency. 

Basement bedrooms must be connected to a house exit or escape window. 

You would not want to trap someone in a bedroom during an emergency, and especially if those trapped were unable to escape without risking injury.

Any first responders to your home in the event of a fire, would not be able to reach you in time if they had to go through the rest of your home before getting to you. 

That is why basement bedrooms must have some means of emergency exit.

Also make sure that everyone in the family knows where these exits are. They should also have an idea of how to escape that route for emergencies.

That may mean that you put a window in the bedroom, or make an emergency exit hatch from your basement.

Basement bedrooms must have some means of egress in case of emergency, and should not be inaccessible due to heavy smoke, fire or water damage.

Bottom line

Bedrooms are important.

Your bedroom is your refuge, your sleep zone and the place where you get away from it all.  

Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for rest and privacy, but never a prison.

It must have a means of escape in case of emergency or other situation that requires getting out quickly without having to go back through the same door you came in.

Be sure to review the article and make sure that you are meeting the standards for bedrooms in your home.  

Your requirements may be slightly different, but if you’re unsure of any part of this process, talk with a professional or have them inspect your home.