I have been looking to,purchase a 3 BR single family home but it's hard in my price range to find a nice house in a nice neighborhood. My realtor showed me a house that is everything I'm looking for but it's a 2 BR. Can I have a bedroom in the basement? My realtor said its not legal but a friend told me as long as it has 2 exits it's finel.
Please see section F below taken from the Paterson Municipal Code. See here for the reffered to sections. http://ecode360.com/8551588#8551650
§ 275-11. Space and location requirements for habitable rooms.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein which does not comply with the following requirements:
A. Every dwelling unit shall contain at least one hundred fifty (150) square feet of floor space for the first occupant thereof and at least one hundred (100) additional square feet of floor space for every additional occupant thereof, the floor space to be calculated on the basis of total habitable room area; provided, however, that a one-room dwelling unit shall not be occupied by more than two (2) persons.
B. In every dwelling unit of two (2) or more rooms, every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one (1) occupant shall contain at least seventy (70) square feet of floor space, and every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than one (1) occupant shall contain at least fifty (50) square feet of floor space for each occupant thereof.
C. No dwelling or dwelling unit containing two (2) or more sleeping rooms shall have such room arrangements that access to a bathroom or water closet compartment intended for use by occupants of more than one (1) sleeping room can be had only by going through another sleeping room; nor shall room arrangements be such that access to a sleeping room can be had only by going through another sleeping room or a bathroom or water closet compartment.
D. Every habitable room, except attic and basement rooms, shall have a ceiling height of at least seven and one-half (7 1/2) feet in every part. At least one-half of the floor area of every habitable attic room shall have a ceiling height of at least seven and one-half (7 1/2) feet. The floor area of that part of any room where the ceiling is less than five (5) feet shall not be considered as part of the floor area in computing the total floor area of the room for the purpose of determining the permissible occupancy thereof.
E. No cellar space shall be used as a habitable room or dwelling unit.
F. No basement space shall be used as a dwelling unit unless:
(1) The floor and walls are impervious to leakage of underground and surface runoff water and are insulated against dampness.
(2) The total of window area in each room is equal to at least the minimum window area size as required in § 275-9A.
(3) Such required minimum window area is located entirely above the grade of the ground adjoining such window area.
(4) The total of openable window area in each room is equal to at least the minimum as required under § 275-9B except where there is supplied some other device affording adequate ventilation and approved by the Health Division.
(5) The ceiling height shall be not less than seven (7) feet in every part used as a habitable room.
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My suggestion is to check with the municipality before you purchase. Most, if not all municipalities, do not permit the use of the basement for sleeping purposes. There may be some exceptions to the rule but you would want to know that before you signed a contract of sale.
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Even if you were to meet applicable Zoning Requirements, a Fire Subcode Official may have the final say, considering ingress, egress and whether or not the windows are of sufficient size and location to allow escape.
You definitely need a local attorney who is more familiar with the applicable Paterson Codes.
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