What is the legal definition of a bedroom in Virginia?

Bedroom with brown bedding and sleek modern closets.

Do rooms require a closet to be considered a bedroom?

Can a sunporch be considered a bedroom?

There are a lot of bedroom myths floating around out there, so let’s break down the requirements for the legal definition of a bedroom in Virginia.

Now, the legal definition of a bedroom can vary by local municipal zoning laws. However, most municipalities or counties in Northern Virginia adhere very closely or even identically to the zoning rules of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Bedroom requirements:

Square footage

Must have a minimum of 70 square feet, and an additional 50 square feet per additional occupant.

Ceiling height

Must not be lower than 7 feet.


Must have a window or door to the outside, which provides natural light and can be opened for ventilation.


Must have a permanent heat source, which cannot be a portable heater.

Interior access

Must be able to access the room without traveling through another bedroom.

Bathroom access

Must have access to a bathroom without traveling through another bedroom.

Egress to the outside

Must have a window or door to the outside with a minimum of 5.7 square feet. The bottom of the egress must be no higher than 44 inches from the ground unless a permanent step is installed. Also, the exit must be unobstructed and included adequate clearance on the exterior of the egress.


There is no requirement to have a closet. In fact, most homes did not include closets until the last half of the twentieth century. This is a myth that seems to perpetuate even within the real estate agent community.

So, now as you tour homes you’ll be better equipped and will know if that room in the basement set up with a made bed is a legal bedroom or not. Even if you would like to use it as a bedroom, be sure not to pay for an extra bedroom.


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About the Author
Graham Tracey
Graham is the Co-Founder and Team Leader for Greater Reston Living. He strives to use the latest data, digital marketing strategies, and negotiation tactics to support clients buying, selling, or investing in real estate. In addition to being a REALTORĀ®, Graham is a certified Pricing Strategy Advisor, designated Seller Representative Specialist, and certified by GRID as an agent expert on building wealth through real estate investment.