The New York City Building Code and the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law set standards for habitable room requirements including: room sizes, window requirements, egress, and relationship to other spaces within the dwelling unit. Habitable Spaces cover Kitchen, Living Room, Bedroom, and most other rooms.
Habitable Space Definition
The New York City 2014 Building Code defines a Habitable Space as follows:
“HABITABLE SPACE. All rooms and spaces within a dwelling unit in Group R or I-1, including bedrooms, living rooms, studies, recreation rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and other similar spaces.”
“Exception: The following spaces within a dwelling unit shall not be considered habitable spaces:1. A dining space 55 square feet (5.1 m2) or less located off a living room, foyer or kitchen;2. A kitchenette;3. A bathroom or toilet room;4. A laundry room; and5. A corridor, passageway, or private hall; and a foyer used as an entrance hall in a dwelling unit: not exceeding 10 percent of the total floor area of the dwelling unit; or not exceeding 20 percent of the floor area of the dwelling unit where every habitable room is at least 20 percent larger than the required minimum room sizes established by the New York City Housing Maintenance Code.”
Bedroom Codes NYC
For the most part a habitable room of a different name is still following the rules for bedrooms. Most of the habitable room laws do not distinguish between room types. The codes set standards for rooms within a dwelling unit no matter what you call it.
Here are some of the key habitable space and bedroom laws in NYC.
- Minimum Room Size
- Natural Light
- Natural Ventilation
- Maximum Room Depth
- Is a Mezzanine a separate room?
- Temperature Requirements
NYC Building Code: Bedrooms and Other Habitable Rooms
Minimum Room Size
The minimum dimension of any habitable room other than a kitchen is 8 feet at any point. There are a few exceptions to this. Half the number of bedrooms (rounding down) can have a minimum dimension of 7 feet for units with 3 or more bedrooms. All bedrooms must be at least 80 square feet. In all apartments at least one room must be 150 square feet. This is usually the living room.
All habitable spaces require natural light. This means providing windows. The net glazed area of the window(s) must be at least 12 square feet and 10% of the room floor area. So if the room is 200 square feet you need at least 20 square feet of glass in the windows. The entire window must be at least 12 square feet to qualify for natural light.
All habitable spaces require natural ventilation. This means operable windows. The open area of the window(s) when fully open must be at least 6 square feet and 5% of the room floor area. So if the room is 200 square feet you need at least 10 square feet of open area when the windows are fully open. The entire window must be at least 12 square feet to qualify for natural ventilation. There are some minor modifications in the Building Code that we won’t address in certain conditions but these are the basics for Ventilation and Window Codes in Bedrooms.
Maximum Room Depth NYC
In multifamily Buildings a habitable room cannot be more than 30 feet deep from a window unless it is in a building of Type I or Type II construction.
Mezzanines or Split Level Rooms
A split level room or mezzanine will be considered part of the room in which it is located if the mezzanine is fully open for its full width except for a railing. You can see another post we wrote to read more about NYC Mezzanine Codes.
Habitable / Bedroom Temperature Requirements NYC
All habitable rooms must have a temperature minimum of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in New York City. This includes Living Rooms, Kitchens, Bedrooms etc…
Kitchen Vs Kitchenette
A kitchen is considered a habitable room but a kitchenette is not.
- A kitchen is 80 square feet or more
- A kitchenette is under 80 square feet.
We have another post that goes deeper into the topic of Kitchen vs Kitchenette.
Reconfigure Rooms or Adding a Room to an Apartment
People often reconfigure their rooms, divide one room into two rooms or otherwise add a room to their apartment. Adding a room will always require following all codes for habitable spaces in NYC. You can see another post we wrote to learn more about adding a bedroom. This will require permits. You will most commonly file for an Alteration Type 2 permit to add a room to an apartment.
The term Interior bedroom is used to describe a bedroom without a window. Interior bedrooms are illegal. Habitable space laws where created because it was determined that living in a space without windows had negative affects on a persons physical and mental health.
Do Not Create Interior Bedrooms
People often call my office wanting to make interior bedrooms looking for loopholes or a way to outsmart the Department Of Buildings. Let me save you some trouble you will not outsmart the NYC Department Of Buildings. They have been doing this for a long time they know all the tricks.
Habitable Space and Bedroom Codes NYC
As an architect I study building Codes and New York City regulations closely, but these are complicated and quite involved. In this article we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards to Habitable Rooms and Bedroom Codes. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.
Thank you for reading our blog post on NYC Bedroom Codes and Habitable Rooms.
I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect you can contact us directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.