What Rooms Count as Habitable Spaces?

Many renovations involve creating new rooms or altering the dimensions of existing rooms.  In order to be approved by the Department of Buildings, however, rooms must meet certain criteria in order to be labeled “habitable.”  You can’t, for instance, build a 60 square foot room with no windows and call it a bedroom and expect plans to be approved.  The following room types are considered habitable and must follow habitable room guidelines (see here):

  • Bedrooms
  • Living rooms
  • Studies
  • Recreation rooms
  • Kitchens
  • Dining rooms

It goes without saying that not all apartment rooms in New York will meet criteria for being habitable.  Maybe it doesn’t have proper window space or appropriate plumbing or whatever else have you.  However, it can still be used—just not as the rooms above.  The following room types are not considered “habitable spaces,” but rather “occupiable spaces.”  (All habitable spaces are also occupiable spaces, but not all occupiable spaces are habitable spaces).

  • A dining space 55 square feet or less located off a living room, foyer or kitchen
  • A kitchenette
  • A bathroom or toilet room
  • A laundry room
  • A corridor, passageway, or private hall
  • Foyer used as an entrance hall in a dwelling unit
    • Not exceeding 10 percent of the total floor area of the dwelling unit, or not exceeding 20 percent of the floor area of the dwelling unit where every habitable room is at least 20 percent larger than the required minimum room sizes established by the New York City Housing Maintenance Code.