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Building Codes and Inspections/Switching living room and bedroom


Hi Keith,

I live in and own a three family triple decker in MA.  The living room is currently set at the back of the house for each level/unit, but there is a door that goes to the back common stairway which leads eventually outside.  The front door is not attached to any room as it's part of the hallway.  We're thinking of switching the living room in the back to the bedroom in front so that there's less street noise for sleepers.  In your perspective, would this be any issue with code?

Thank you,

The issues of sleeping rooms are usually that they must meet the required egress requirements of the code either in the form of an egress window meeting certain minimum opening size and operational requirements, or have a door to an exit. You could have an issue if the windows are not egress windows and the sleeping room is moved to where it no longer accesses the exit directly. Smoke detection in the sleeping room and smoke/carbon monoxide detection is usually required outside the sleeping room. You may have to provide arc-fault protection to the electrical circuit(s) in the sleeping rooms.

Code requirements are location specific, so what you need to do is contact the Building Official where the building is located.  They can advise you on the code and edition of the code in effect, as well as any local amendments to the code.

What you suggest sounds like a reasonable idea, just be sure you follow all regulations if you are a landlord to avoid legal issues.

Best of luck!

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Keith Fuller


I'm an ICC Certified Master Code Professional fielding general building code questions. My experience has been heavy in fire related issues.


I've been employed since 1985 as an inspector and plan reviewer, and am a municipal Assistant Building Official and Deputy fire Marshal. I've had fire service experience since 1972, having served as a three time Fire Chief and Fire Marshal in years past. The increasing workload, mandatory certifications, and continuing education requirements in recent years have caused me to concentrate my efforts on code related issues. I hold national fire service certifications as well.

ICC Master Code Professional

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