This question is from Meg in Westchester NY.

I listen to your podcasts regularly.  I find them thoughtful and provoking and love that you get to the point in the short amount of time.

We are residential investors and primarily design and build new single family homes in Westchester NY.   We have a very savvy group of buyers.  With that, one aspect we have come to understand is that our buyers want functionality and flexibility in their homes and we strive to provide designs that accommodate this.

I was perplexed on your recent podcast when you were discussing how designers should consider supplying 2 offices and 1 bedroom in new apartments as opposed to 3 bedrooms.  Maybe that can be an innovative marketing strategy but I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to ensure that all three rooms can be used as a bedroom or office. With the codes as they are, for a room to be a bedroom you have to have an egress window (or sprinklers) but not so for an office.  So why not make sure you have the rooms set up so they can be used for either and let a buyer or renter determine what is best?  We often end up choosing at least 1 bedroom that we label as bedroom/office to imply this flexibility.  It is usually a smaller sized bedroom but very nice size office.

I was confused by your suggestion and was hoping to hear a bit more from you to clarify.

Thank you again for providing such insightful and current information on your podcast.  It isn’t easy to find helpful real estate information without gimmicks .

Meg, thank you for a great question.

I love the Westchester area. My family is originally from NYC and I used to have a cousin who lived on Mamaroneck Blvd in White Plains. For the listeners at home, the Westchester area is a bedroom community for NYC and there are a lot of professionals, who live in Westchester and commute into Manhattan.

Meg you are correct that the building code has specific requirements for a room to classified as a bedroom. If you could meet all the necessary requirements for both a bedroom and an office, then naturally it would make sense to do so.

Designers of a bedroom tend to think about the size of room required for a bedroom. You need to support either a single or double bed, a night table, a dresser, and maybe a bookcase. They don’t think through the requirements for an office, or if they do it’s an afterthought.

If you were designing a room to be used as an office, you would be paying close attention to how the office would be designed. What styles of desks could be used in the room? Would the design be on a wall, or in the middle of the room? Would the desk be facing a window? Where would the door be placed? Where would the filing cabinet, the printer and the scanner be located? Where would the electrical outlets be located?, and the hardwired data connections? If there was to be a wireless access point in the room, where would it be mounted?

If the office was going to host regular video conferences, how would the lighting be optimized to provide a good video image? Will the lighting support a full day of computer work, or will there be glare on the computer screen during the afternoon hours?

You see it’s one thing to build a bedroom with a single electrical outlet every 12 feet of linear wall space as required by the electrical code. Its quite another to think through the placement of people and equipment to create a viable work flow. Would the flow be different if the client uses a sit-down desk versus a standup desk?

You see there are lots of three bedroom houses. There are very few one bedroom, two office houses.  The person who needs two offices that are truly designed to be offices will pay extra to fulfill that need.