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WRA Legal HotTip - Basement Bedrooms

WRA’s Legal HotTip dated March 19, 2012 – Advertising

Whether a Basement Room is a Legal Bedroom Depends on Building Codes


What is the official rule on when we can count a bedroom in the basement as a bedroom? The broker
understands that it has to have an egress window, but does it also have to be a walkout? The broker has a seller
with a gorgeous finished basement that has a room being used as a bedroom. It has an egress window, and the
seller said the city is counting all of that as additional square footage, and subsequently taxing her on the
additional square footage, and so, of course, she wants the home listed that way, as well.


The answer will depend on the year the home was built and the applicable code requirements. Therefore, to
determine if a basement room is a legal bedroom the broker should contact the WI Department of Safety and
Professional Services. Additionally, the local building inspector should be contacted to determine if any
additional local regulations or zoning requirements would apply to the property.

Until a final determination is made about the basement rooms, the broker is advised to market rooms in
basement as rooms used as bedrooms rather than additional bedrooms to protect the broker from
misrepresentation of number of bedrooms. Additionally, the broker may work with the seller to determine if
proper permits were issued for the work done in the basement.

READ MORE ABOUT IT: The applicable codes for construction standards (exits, natural light, etc.) are found at:

Date Created: 3-19-2012
Category: Advertising – Zoning/Building Codes