House has more bedrooms then it perks for

mgabrielFebruary 26, 2009

I'm getting ready to put my house up for sale by owner. It has four bedrooms but I believe it only perks for three bedrooms. Would it be misleading to write in the sales ad that it's a 4 bedroom but that it only perks for three bedroom? Or should I say that it's a three bedroom but has a hobby room that can be used as a fourth bedroom?

thanks

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xamsx

Does every room have a closet? If so, they are all bedrooms. If not, I'd call the fourth an office rather than a hobby room.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 8:45AM
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muddypond

I don't know where you are, but here in Tennessee a house can no longer be legally advertised as having more bedrooms than its septic system is designed to handle.

There is a house down the road that was advertised as a three bedroom. The listing write up stated flatly that it was a four bedroom house that had been constructed with a septic system permitted and sized for only three bedrooms, but the listing itself was for a three bedroom house. It also suggested that the fourth bedroom could be used for an office or study.

I think the term perks (actually percs for percolates) really should not be used by itself. Instead, state flatly that the septic system is sized for three bedrooms. You can add that the perc test results did not support anything larger.

I would talk to a real estate attorney first, if you intend to refer to the house as a four bedroom in any advertising or sale document, or if you have a septic system sized for four bedrooms on a lot that only percs for three bedrooms.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 9:05AM
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jojoco

Our town is very picky about this issue. I would not call it a four bedroom house because it would not pass code (again, in our town).
I would call it a bonus room if it is upstairs, and an office if it is downstairs.
Jo

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 10:44AM
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mgabriel

We live in TN as well. Thank you for the advice. I want to be honest but I don't want to scare away any potential buyers. Our house has a office and a bonus, so I'm not sure what to call this room. It does have a closet in it. When we bought the house the upstairs was not finished. When I finished it and codes came out they never once question if it was a bedroom. However, I called the Health department today and they told me that our septic system is made to handle three bedrooms.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 12:19PM
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mariend

Maybe a 3 bedroom with office, craft room, family room etc. Closets are great for putting extra stuff in them.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 2:53PM
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muddypond

You could call it a study, library, sewing room, storage room, retreat, or away room. Just don't show it with a bed in it.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 4:37PM
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blueheron

How come a septic system is ok for a study but not for a bedroom?

Blueheron, who is not familiar with septic systems.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 4:41PM
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muddypond

In Tennessee, septic systems are based on the number of bedrooms in the house. The state assumes two occupants per bedroom. They don't care how many toilets, sinks, showers, or tubs there are, just bedrooms.

It is their way of counting how many people can reasonably be expected live in the house.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 5:21PM
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muddypond

Forgot to add this. In new construction, any room over a certain minimum size that can be closed off from the rest of the house and has a closet is counted as a bedroom for purposes of septic sizing.

If you apply for and get a three bedroom septic permit (state), but the building inspector (city or county) looks at your plans and determines you have more than three "bedrooms," he will deny your building permit.

You then get to start all over. It can get costly.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 5:29PM
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sierraeast

Out here, if it has a closet, it's considered a bedroom. I would take down the closet rod, install shelving as a bookcase, and call it a study or library.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 6:57PM
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gibby2015

Where I am if you try to sell your house and it has more bedrooms than your septic system is rated for you are required to put in a septic system that meets the requirements for your house. If it qualifies as a legal bedroom in every other respect it's a bedroom - no matter what you call it or how you furnish it.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 8:27PM
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lsst

Where we are in SC for a room to be considered a bedroom it must have a closet and have a window that is sized correctly for egress in an emergency.
Also, if a septic tank is approved for 3 bedrooms, it can only have a max of 3 bedrooms.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 9:52PM
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ncrealestateguy

How did you end up with a home that has more bedrooms than the lot was perked for?
Do not advertise it as a 4 br, because as soon as the new owners find out the septic can only hadle 3, expect big trouble.
If they want to use it as a 4th bedroom, then fine, but don't you insinuate at all, that it is a 4th br.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:37AM
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Pipersville_Carol

I wouldn't say anything about the septic size. It was obviously approved at some level by some sort of municipal body (unless you added bedrooms later without permits, a whole different kettle of fish). If the septic works, it works.

Where I live, it's the buyer's responsibility to do a septic inspection if they choose. Too big, too small... the regulations change so much, any septic older than 10 years probably wouldn't pass by today's standards anyway, even if it functions perfectly.

Don't make a problem for yourself.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 9:09AM
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ncrealestateguy

Pipersville, your advice is sound if and ony if he advertises it as a 3 br.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 12:37PM
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polie

Advertise it only as a 3 bedroom. What the buyer chooses to do with that extra room is his business, but it would clearly be misleading to try to sell it as a 4 bedroom.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 9:27PM
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muddypond

I wouldn't say anything about the septic size. It was obviously approved at some level by some sort of municipal body (unless you added bedrooms later without permits, a whole different kettle of fish). If the septic works, it works. -- pipersville_carol

This is really bad advice. In Tennessee, the septic permit is issued by the state based upon the number of bedrooms, as requested by the owner or his representative. The municipality has nothing to do with it, although recently the counties and municipalities have been checking the plans against the septic permits.

The bottom line is this, in Tennessee there are a lot of homes with undersized septic tanks. It is not permissible to advertise these homes as having more bedrooms than the extant septic system supports.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 11:32PM
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arielitas_mom

Out here (Calif.) for a room to be considered a bedroom it must closet. If not, you can advertise it as an office/den or refer to is as "3 bedroom + 1." You cannot say it's a 4th bedroom unless that is the way that it is listed on the tax rolls/assessors office. Most (all?) houses around here are on sewer lines, which I suppose is different than being on a septic system, but I'm not sure about requirements for number of bathrooms as related to number of bedrooms, or how that figures into the mix.

You can put whatever you want in there (bed/desk/gym equipment, whatever) when you show it, it wouldn't matter.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 10:05PM
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terriks

You really can't compare the requirements for what constitutes a bedroom for a house on a public sewer system with a house on septic.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 12:12PM
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newgardenelf

There have been MANY lawsuits over this issue in realtor magazines. Everything I've read implies if you have a three bedroom septic- you better be marketing your home as a three bedroom home or prepared to refund the buyer the cost of a septic upgrade or the value difference. If you want to point out that there are other rooms and the buyer chooses to use them as bedrooms- that's their business. I've seen people say 5 bedroom home* with three bedroom septic or three bedroom home with office or bonus room.

Don't wait for them to figure it out or hope they don't. disclose, disclose, disclose... Especially if it only perked for a three bedroom and adding a larger septic may not be an option. In theory the septic size may never affect the family but who wants to deal with it after the fact.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 2:02PM
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linda117117

Its a pretty common misconception that you can count a room as a bedroom if it has a closet. I've actually had this exact situation happen. (It might be somewhere on gardenweb in an old thread). I had a lady that insisted her home was a four bedroom home. The assessors office had it listed as a three. I wanted to enter it in MLS as a 3 bedroom with a den or office. She wouldnt have it. Long story short, the buyer felt the value of the home was less because it was legally a three bedroom and he "thought" he was buying a four bedroom. She had to upgrade her septic by putting in two more leach fields to make it a legal 4 bdrm home. By the way, the legal bedroom had 'no closet'.

Builders in my area have been getting away with this for years. I wish something would change with it. They basically build these homes with "four bedrooms", all on the same level all with closets, however, put in a septic suitable for 3 and call it a 3 bdrm with a den. Their builder told them it would save them money on their taxes calling it a three bedroom home, but of course, never mentioned the value difference between a 3 and 4 bedroom home.

Don't advertise anything that is misleading. Say the home is a 3 bedroom with a hobby/den or office. (whatever term in your area is common).

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 2:32PM
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