Adding a bedroom NYC

Adding a bedroom to an apartment

(Last Updated On: December 8, 2017)

We get lots of inquiries from people who want to add a bedroom to an apartment. This is a relatively common practice. Lets discuss some of the rules and protocols for adding a bedroom to your apartment. The rules listed below are based on New York City regulations.

 

Adding A Bedroom

You will want to make sure your Condo, Co-Op Board, or management company does not have any objections to changing the number of bedrooms in your apartment. For more info on this process we wrote another article on Alteration Agreements

You will need to hire an architect. The architect will determine the legality of the work and in New York City your architect will file an alteration with the Department Of Buildings (DOB). Typically you will file an “Alt 2” no change to certificate of occupancy. Sometimes the certificate of occupancy lists the number of bedrooms in this case you may be required to file an “Alt 1” to change the certificate of occupancy.

 

Rules For Bedrooms and Living Rooms

So how do you determine if your new bedroom is going to be legal and can be approved by the DOB. The following are rules as defined by New York City Building Code and Housing Code. Dining rooms, kitchenettes, and bathrooms have different rules we will not address in this article.

All new rooms and existing rooms must comply with the following.

 

Room Size:

  • Rooms must be a minimum of 80 Square Feet.
    • One room must be at least 150 square feet. (Typically the living room)
    • Do not count closets for floor area of room.
  • Rooms must have a minimum height of 8 feet.
  • The room Width and depth must have a clear space (not counting furniture of course) of 8 feet by 8 feet clear.
    • For bedrooms in an apartment with 3 or more bedrooms, half the rooms can have a minimum dimension of 7 feet.
      • By half the rooms: we round down so if there are 3 bedrooms then 1 can be 7 feet wide.
      • The bedrooms that are 7 feet wide still need to be 80 square feet.
  • Rooms can not have a space more than 30 feet from a window.
    • There are some exceptions here – we are not going into that level of detail in this article.

 

Natural Light And Air for legal Rooms:

  • At least one window must be provided in each room.
  • The window must be at least 12 square feet or it does not count for natural light and air.
  • For natural light you need your total window sizes of at least 10% of the room floor area.
    • Example if you have a 240 square foot room you need 24 square feet of window. You can have (2) 12 square foot windows.
    • If your room is less than 120 square feet you still need a 12 square foot window.
    • For a dining room the rule is 1/8 the floor area.
  • For Natural Air you need half the required light so 5% of the room floor area. Meaning when the windows are all open the open area is 5% of the room floor area.
  • Windows on a shared property line do not count, unless you have a legal agreement with your neighbor approved by the DOB.
  • Windows must have at least 6 feet clear in front of them.
  • The top of at least one window must be at least 7 feet off the floor.

 

General requirements:

  • IF your building is required to be Handicap accessible then the new rooms must all be ADA compliant.
  • You will need to get a permit.
  • In NYC you typically file an Alteration Type 2 with the Department of Buildings for adding bedrooms in an apartment. In some instances you may be required to file an Alteration Type 1
    • Alteration Type 2 is typical. This is when the existing certificate of occupancy does not list the number of rooms. Also file an Alt 2 if there is no certificate of occupancy on record.
    • Alteration Type 1 is only filed if the Certificate Of Occupancy lists the room count. This is less common. In actuality this may not even be required I have dealt with people at the Department Of Buildings who have instructed us to do it both ways. Your architect will advise you on this. They can meet with the assistant chief plan examiner or file a CCD1 if they are unsure of what to do.
  • Dining rooms, bathrooms, kitchenettes (under 80 square feet) have different rules.
  • There is no building code or housing code that requires closets in a bedroom, but it sure is a good idea to have one.
  • You must get approval from your Co-Op, condo, or management company.
  • Skylights only count for light and air in 1 and 2 family houses, not acceptable in a multi family building.

 

Adding a Bedroom to Your Apartment

Adding a Room and Apartment Conversions examples:

 

One Bedroom to a Two Bedroom Conversion:

This apartment conversion was in Manhattan on the east side. In this project the client wanted to divide his relatively large living room into a second bedroom and living room. We added the second bedroom see 3D floor plan for before and after. The converted plan maintained a large living area by only adding a small bedroom of a little over 100 square feet. This is a good example of adding a room with minimal impact on the surrounding space. Converting a one bedroom to a two bedroom:

1 bedroom apartment NYC conversion

Original 1 bedroom apartment

Adding a bedroom

1 bedroom converted to 2 bedroom

 

2 Bedroom to 3 Bedroom Conversion:

This apartment was in a prewar building in Manhattan. The original layout had 2 bedrooms and a large foyer. We relocated the kitchen to the foyer area and converted the living dinging room to a bedroom. As well as the original kitchen.

Prewar 2 Bedroom apt NYC

Original 2 Bedroom Apt

prewar apartment renovation

2 bedroom apartment into a 3 bedroom apartment

 

Studio Apartment To 1 Bedroom Conversion:

This NYC studio apartment was in Chelsea. In this apartment the clients had an alcove bedroom open to the living area. We built a new partition wall with double pocket doors to allow privacy and a separate bedroom, with the option to leave the pocket doors open to create a more open feel. Adding a room to this apartment gave the owners a real sense of privacy and separation that studio apartments don’t have.

Convert studio to 1 bedroom

studio apartment NYC

Original Studio Apartment

Adding a room to a studio apartment

Studio to one bedroom conversion

 

2 Bedroom Converted into a 3 Bedroom

This apartment is in the Flatiron District. We added a room next to the existing bedroom taking a away from the living room. The apartment still had space for a living room, dining and open kitchen. This is an example of how to make a 2 bedroom apartment into a 3 bedroom.

Loft Renovation NYC

Original 2 bedroom apartment

Adding a bedroom to an apt NYC

Converted 2 Bedroom apartment into a 3 bedroom

 

I hope this article was helpful for you. If you would like to speak with an architect about a project you are planning feel free to Contact UsIf you want to learn more about our services take a look at our Apartment Renovation Services page.

 

Author Jorge Fontan AIA

This post was written by Jorge Fontan, a Registered Architect and owner of Fontan Architecture.

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