May 7, 2008


Melbourne, Florida



Meeting Design & Facilitation By



Report By Jeff A. Blair

Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium

Florida State University




http:// consensus.fsu.edu


This document is available in alternate formats upon request to Dept. of Community Affairs, Codes & Standards, 2555 Shumard Oak Blvd., Tallahassee, FL 32399, (850) 487-1824.




May 7, 2008



Chairman Rodriguez announced that the Commission is convening a facilitated joint workgroup process with the Florida Department of Health (DOH) to develop recommendations regarding requirements for the sizing of septic systems.




Raul L. Rodriguez, AIA, Chair of the Florida Building Commission, has made the following appointments to the Universal Bedroom Definition Workgroup. Members are charged with representing their stakeholder group’s interests, and working with other interest groups to develop consensus package(s) of recommendations for submittal to the Commission.


Commission Appointments

Dick Browdy

Matt Carlton

Joe Crum

Dale Greiner

Jim Goodloe

Jim Schock

Randy Vann



Health Department Appointments

Ed Barranco

Roxanne Groover

Robert Harper

Mark Lander

Jim Love

Jim Schivinski

Ed Williams




Opening and Meeting Attendance

The meeting started at 1:00 PM, and the following Workgroup members were present:

Dick Browdy, Matt Carlton, Dale Greiner, Jim Goodloe, Jim Schock, Randy Vann; Ed Barranco,

Roxanne Groover, Robert Harper, Mark Lander, Jim Love, Jim Schivinski, and Ed Williams.



DCA Staff Present

Rick Dixon, Bruce Ketcham, Mo Madani, and Ann Stanton.


Meeting Facilitation

The meeting was facilitated by Jeff Blair from the Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium at Florida State University. Information at: http://consensus.fsu.edu/


Project Webpage

Information on the project, including agenda packets, meeting reports, and related documents may be found in downloadable formats at the project webpage below:



Meeting Objectives


ü      To Approve Regular Procedural Topics (Agenda)

ü      To Hear an Overview of the Workgroup’s Scope and Charge

ü      To Review Workgroup Procedures, Guidelines, and Decision-Making Requirements

ü      To Hear an Overview of Building Code Perspective on the Issue

ü      To Hear an Overview of Department of Health’s Perspective on the Issue and Current Rule

ü      To Identify Issues and Options Regarding a Universal Bedroom Definition

ü      To Discuss and Evaluate Level of Acceptability of Proposed Options

ü      To Consider Public Comment

ü      To Identify Needed Next Steps and Agenda Items for Next Meeting



Review of Universal Bedroom Definition Workgroup Scope

Jeff Blair explained that the purpose of the Workgroup is to develop recommendations regarding

An acceptable definition of “Bedrooms” used for the sizing of septic systems. The definition should work from the Florida Building Code (FBC) and Department of Health (DOH) perspectives.


Review of Commission’s Workgroup Meeting Guidelines, Consensus-Building and

Decision-Making Process, and Sunshine Requirements

Jeff Blair reviewed the Commission’s consensus and decision-making processes, and explained that Workgroup members were subject to the requirements of the Florida Sunshine Law, and could not discuss issues that may foreseeably come before the Workgroup with other Workgroup members outside of a properly noticed Workgroup meeting.

Building Code Perspective on Septic System Sizing Requirements

Members appointed to represent the Florida Building Commission were asked to provide their perspective on the issue. (See Overview of Discussion Section of this Report)


Health Department Perspective on Bedroom Definition Rule and Related Issues

Members appointed to represent the Department of Health were asked to provide their perspective on the issue. (See Overview of Discussion Section of this Report)


Discussion, Identification and Evaluation in Turn of Issues and Options Regarding

a Universal Bedroom Definition

Members were requested to propose and evaluate a range of options for developing a universal bedroom definition for the sizing of septic systems.

(See Overview of Discussion Section of this Report)


Non-Binding Straw Poll on Possible Bedroom Definition Options


Option 1:

Bedroom: Minimum 70 sq ft, closet, means of escape and rescue to the outside, door, and must be conditioned space (code requires heating for conditioned space).

3 members voted in support of this option in concept.


Option 2:

Bedroom: Minimum 70 sq ft, closet, means of escape and rescue to the outside, door,

must be conditioned space, and the room is not a: hallway, bathroom, kitchen, living room, family room, dining room, breakfast nook, pantry, laundry room, sunroom, recreation room, media/video room, or exercise room (Note: the concept is to create a list of exceptions and all other rooms would be classified as bedroom).

10 members voted in support of this option in concept.


Option 3:

Use the Building Code requirements of a specific occupant load for housing: 1 person per 200 sq ft, and at the plan review process require 75 gallons/person/day for sizing the system. The concept is for an occupant load calculation based on square footage.

3 members voted in support of this option in concept.



Public Comment

Members of the public were invited to provide the Workgroup with comments.


Next Steps

The Workgroup will meet at the June 2008 or August 2008 Commission meeting to review feedback from TRAP and to further evaluate issue and options regarding developing a universal bedroom definition for the sizing of septic systems.



The Workgroup adjourned at 4:30 PM.



Overview and Summary of Discussion and Participant’s Questions and Comments:


Browdy, custom home builder in several counties, no public sewage accommodations, permitting large custom homes, 5000 10,000 feet with designated bedrooms and other rooms, geometric problematic lots, sizing systems, Department of Health determines sizing by number of bedrooms,  Commission charged with construction in the state. 


Schock, small plans review, walk through permitting, health dept requests to see all plans that have septic tanks.


Greiner, screen rooms are excluded but when they are enclosed the house is subject to the sewage capacity requiring changing plans.


Morroco, when health department applies definition consider location and layout compared with other bedrooms in the floor plan.  For home site, def in terms of bedroom or bedroom area.  Establishes occupancy per bedroom, estimated sewage flow per bedroom, determines size of system and ability of lot to handle flow, tank, drain field, lot flow determination, baseline systems do not handle nitrogen well, estimated sewage flows.  Need objective definition that allows unfinished rooms, attics, dens, offices, etc. rooms not specified as bedrooms but can become sleeping or bedrooms increasing the expected flow from the structure.  Increased flows, undersized systems, to protect the system, prevent degradation of ground water.  Will take this determination to rule making.


Browdy, acceptable to use other than bedrooms to determine sizing, fixture count.


Morroco, how estimate max capacity, generate system flows, need to treat maximum flow. Other methodologies, yes.


Vann, inconsistent answers from health dept., no basis for code, take personalities out of the decision making process.  Could the sewing room be a bedroom? Yes, six sharing a bedroom?


Schock, there are 2 issues, large homes with extra rooms that are not occupied, and small houses with 2 bedrooms with den that are advertised as 3 bedrooms.


Browdy, most small houses are in subdivisions. 


Love, 20,000 lots with wells and septic tanks and houses yet to be built on in Lee County.


Madani, builders provide plans which indicate what is the bedroom, secondary means of escape in the bedroom.  Does the health dept rely on the plans?


Love, they do add bedrooms, go further than indicated on the plans.


Williams, the rule does not accommodate large homes.  Variances submitted to the health department, size of house and estimated sewage flow, compromise on the number bedrooms, has capability to accommodate larger groups of people. 


Morroco, statewide million un-built lots in Florida, sewage flow not accommodated, call bedroom den and get around insufficient flow.


Williams, variance process, does not meet state requirements, denial letter where does not meet requirements, appeals process.  2 bed on lot that can not handle 3 bedroom sewage capacity, degrades water quality.


Local health dept, discretion between county health dept, what is a den?  5 bed small house, contractor wants protection, septic tank failure.  This was a group halfway home.


Greiner, duration of variance process, 15th month for next month agenda, 1st Thursday of each month.  4-6 week process.  Meetings around the state, Tallahassee office receives waiver applications. 


123 process or waiver process (agreed upon facts).  Hearing for facts not in agreement.  What are the rooms?


Vann, when health dept interrogates applicants about sewing rooms, need reasonable definition of a bedroom. 


Schock, additions for recreation room, not fair to declare them bedrooms.


Harper, Technical Review and Advisory Panel, reviews and evaluates rules and laws.  Since 1996, the panel has improved standards in the state.  Problem is cost to, oversizing cost of tank, drain field, bedroom, challenge to builders.  A definition would make sense.  Anyone can bring an issue to TRAP, will meet in June in Orlando.  The health dept protects health in the state.  How many failures due to unrecorded bedrooms? 


Williams, failure sewage on the ground, back up in the house, or treatment of additional flow?  200 gallons/day sufficient? 


Harper, failure could treatment, design failures 50%, TRAP forward to the Review Panel.


Williams, 25-30 variances per month.


Harper, proper def would address.


Goodloe, similar set of acts, are decisions consistent, site specific variances.


Williams, no precedents set.


Carlton, fixture standpoint, is it possible to use fixture counts for sewage determination?


Williams, fixtures are not the standard but how many people are using the plumbing.


Vann, do not know how many flushes or what will be the usage.


Carlton, max flushes per toilet?  Typical usage? 


Vann, averages, number people affects flushing.


Barranco, additional bedroom, limit warranties to estimated sewage flow, can document water used in excess of estimate and not warrant excess water usage.  Use maximum occupancy not number of fixtures.  System sizes are larger, 50 gallons/per person/day is bottom of range in literature.  In more affluent environment, is at upper end of scale.  Low end is bigger problem.


Mark Lander, different interpretations of sleeping areas, study with a closet is a bedroom.


Browdy, sofas change the population, commonality, building code def bedroom, egress requirements, door requirements, there should be some criteria for defining a bedroom.


Williams, always extremes, 2 bedrooms, for 2 families, it is not the drainfield, area it fills, area to enlarge drainfield, additions for older homes, health dept inspect property.


Madani, extremes, need tools or options for dealing, not do this through variance process, establish guidelines to deal with extremes, codes for the extremes allow alternatives performance compliance options, affidavits viable?


Harper, after rule passed, local counties pass their own regulations, can exceed state regulations.


Love, there are not many stricter requirements, Sanibel Island.


Browdy, does the local heath dept justify exceeding state standards.


Love, is not a defensible position.


Browdy, justify politically or scientifically?  Moratorium on building.  There is a process for dealing with this in the building/code community.


Love, list existing houses for sale as more bedrooms.


Groover, we have low flows for bedrooms, acceptable for design, higher overload flows designed, Tennessee, count bedrooms and fixtures, large tubs 70 gallons added to flow rate.  Bedrooms, builder, big fixtures, sign affidavit tied to permit.  Design systems correctly.  As use of house changes, plan.


Schock, occupant load in building code, 10 persons/ 75 gallons/day.  Is there a maximum size building for minimum tank.


Barranco, 200 gallons/day, 200 sq ft means 50 gallons.


Glenn, alternate method, transfer of ownership, alternate bedrooms, need clear def bedroom, ancillary rooms surcharge?  Not rely on home owner, new homeowner with same tank, perform to minimum criteria.  Establish flow rate per bedroom.  Need system that would last the life of the house.


Lander, permitted homes, avoid small lots meeting standard flow rates.


Vann, FEMA cases variances, recorded on deed of the house, when house sized, record on deed, for tank system any changes to deed restriction must be accomplished.


Barranco, need statutory authority to require affidavit be tied to deed. 


Williams, additional cost, not having ability to force the issue.


Vann, will lose the variance request.


Williams, 30 variances, 3000 systems installed per month.


Groover, averse to put on the title?  Selling more bedrooms?  Homeowner rights to know what is tied to the house?


Harper, apply to system, who proves what, realtors not happy with this, challenge this.  The state did not pass pumpout every 5 years, excessive rule making or change.


Groover, any thing keeping me from listing sewing as bedroom?  No.


Harper, what would keep me from sizing?  Sized to max of lot, no space for increasing drain field.


Grover, the homeowner moving in, choosing another property.


Glenn, realtors add another set of problems.  2 state agencies agree with the def bedroom, design, construction and permitting, consistent between the agencies.  May be a problem with resales, additions.


Criteria for definition:

Vann, code definition, health definition, what is common, and/or different?


Glenn, means of escape and rescue.

Housing: occupancy for dwellings, no less than 70 sq ft.




Possible Definitions:

Minimum 70 sq ft, means of escape and rescue, must contain closet and have a door for privacy, closet not related, can be added, can use wardrobe.


Minimum 70 sq ft, means of escape and rescue to the outside, and have a door for privacy, must be conditioned space, code requires heating, closet is identified with bedrooms, when list for sale require closet (no), real estate not part of this discussion.


Browdy, Commission grants accessibility waivers which are recorded, attached to the title when there is a request to deviate from the established standard, affidavit is possible for that individual house, sufficient for the next owner? Not unfair to record waiver for the owner.


Groover, most states remove the closet from the def bedroom.


Greiner, portable closets, affidavit attach to the property.


Glenn, ICC private waste systems, other states no bedroom def, court cases or amendments to code require door, minimum sq ft, closet.


Madani, use code definition?


Barranco, reference other rules (code) is inconvenient methodology, can do. 


Define common living area and exclude bedroom.  Hallway, bathroom, kitchen, living room, dining room, breakfast nook, laundry room


Minimum 70 sq ft, means of escape and rescue to the outside, and have a door for privacy, must be conditioned space, code requires heating, closet is identified with bedrooms, and is not a hallway, bathroom, kitchen, living room, dining room, breakfast nook, laundry room, sunroom.


Minimum 70 sq ft, closet, means of escape and rescue to the outside, must be conditioned space (code requires heating) and is not a hallway, bathroom, kitchen, living room, family room, dining room, breakfast nook, pantry, laundry room, sunroom, recreation room, media/video room, exercise room.


Goodloe, look at gallons per bedroom, total flow consist of bedroom and other areas.


Williams, sizing issue, take sq ft out of criteria, front door associated with foyer

Browdy, circulation space for residents


Barranco, will be our rule, will train our folks for consistent approach, make def specific


Harper, may not go anywhere, make specific, eliminate the not bedrooms.


Love, 2 means of egress required?


Madani, sleeping rooms.


Browdy, safety factor?


Barranco, low end of range flows, sandy soil, upper end soil loading, smaller systems.


Glenn, 4 bedroom houses do not have 8 occupants.


2.5 people per house in the census.


Williams, after 2 bedroom, expect 1 person per bedroom.


Barranco, sizing issue, max flow design.


Schock, design to worst case not realistic, need exclusion of what a bedroom is not.


Harper, need time to discuss, legislate?


Williams, systems will be in effect 20 years, house turnovers.


Lander, exclusionary items need to be defined.  What is a family room?


Carlton, safety factor?


Harper, changed over the years with improvements. Sizing set by size of house and number of bedrooms.


Barranco, size detention retention time, min 90 gallon tank for 3 days, minimal treatment, 50 gallons per person, loading rates higher than other states that do not have our conditions.


Jeff, restriction in number of meetings, tie meetings to Commission meetings.  Take to TRAP in their June meeting and receive their comments at the next Workgroup meeting.


Vann, straw poll, any consensus?


1.  Bedroom: Minimum 70 sq ft, closet, means of escape and rescue to the outside, door, must be conditioned space (code requires heating).

3 in support.


2.  Bedroom: Minimum 70 sq ft, closet, means of escape and rescue to the outside, door

must be conditioned space (code requires heating) and is not a hallway, bathroom, kitchen, living room, family room, dining room, breakfast nook, pantry, laundry room, sunroom, recreation room, media/video room, exercise room.

10 in support.


Williams, Harper, will need to define the other rooms.  Lander will have 67 counties defining these.


Schock, code requires specific occupant load for housing, 1 person per 200 sq ft, plan review process, 75 gal/person/day

Williams, sq ft occupant load.


Goodloe, large homes, tie to bedroom, affordable housing.


Harper, rooms defined in code?


Browdy, labeling rooms in the plans.


Madani, bedrooms defined, application related to energy, means of escape tied to sleeping rooms, occupant load not in building volume.


Love, if don’t put in closet, then it is not a bedroom, archways.


Browdy, affidavit, obtain waiver based on recorded affidavit.


Love, you can’t make me make it a bedroom.


Browdy, regulating future use of the building, homeowners must take responsibility for their building.


Groover, variance, tie affidavit to deed at time of sale this is disclosed.


Occupant load calculation based on square footage.

3 in support.



May 7, 2008—Melbourne, Florida

Average rank using a 0 to 10 scale, where 0 means totally disagree and 10 means totally agree.


1.         Please assess the overall meeting.

8.25     The background information was very useful.

8.50     The agenda packet was very useful.

9.67     The objectives for the meeting were stated at the outset.

8.92     Overall, the objectives of the meeting were fully achieved.

9.08     Overview of the Workgroup’s Scope and Charge.

9.00       Overview of Building Code Perspective on the Issue.

9.08     Overview of Department of Health’s Perspective on the Issue and Current Rule.

9.08     Identification of Issues and Options Regarding a Universal Bedroom Definition.

9.00     Evaluation of Options Regarding a Universal Bedroom Definition.

9.17     Identification of Next Steps.


2.         Please tell us how well the Facilitator helped the participants engage in the meeting.

9.75     The members followed the direction of the Facilitator.

9.75     The Facilitator made sure the concerns of all members were heard.

9.75     The Facilitator helped us arrange our time well.

9.75     Participant input was documented accurately.

3.         What is your level of satisfaction with the meeting?

8.92     Overall, I am very satisfied with the meeting.

9.42     I was very satisfied with the services provided by the Facilitator.

8.83     I am satisfied with the outcome of the meeting.

4.         What progress did you make?

9.08     I know what the next steps following this meeting will be.

9.00     I know who is responsible for the next steps.


5.         Members Evaluation Comments.

·        Great start!

·        Pleased with the initial meeting!

·        Great Job.


Written Comments.

Name: Roxanne Groover; Organization: FOWA

COMMENT: 1) Well guided discussion on a difficult subject.  2) I still feel we need to think long-term and not just immediate issue only. It is my understanding that our definition will effect many future outcomes.  3) I think economics played a large role in the discussion. I agree economics should play a role but all components have to be evaluated.



Rule 9B-64.6                                                                                                                                                                                                            file: 2a_bedroom_table89





For System Design


RESIDENTIAL: Effective September 24, 2007


(a) Single or multiple family per dwelling

Unit                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Gallons per day


                      1   bedroom with 750 sq. ft. or less

                           of building area ..........................................................................................................................................................................................100



                      2    bedrooms with 751-1200 sq. ft.

                           of building are.............................................................................................................................................................................................200



                      3    bedrooms with 1201-2250 sq. ft.

                           of building area ...........................................................................................................................................................................................300



                     4    bedrooms with 2251-3300 sq. ft.

                           of building area ...........................................................................................................................................................................................400



                          Note:  For each additional bedroom or each additional 750 square feet of building area or fraction

                          thereof in a dwelling unit, system sizing shall be increased by 100 gallons per dwelling


 (b) Other per occupant.........................................................................................................................................................................................50


Page 17.


DOH Rule 9B-64.6





 64E-6.002 Definitions.


Bedroom – a room designed primarily for sleeping or a room which is expected to routinely provide sleeping accommodations for occupants.


 64E-6.001(4)(a) General For residences, flows shall be calculated using new system criteria for bedrooms and building area, including existing structures and any proposed additions. Table I and footnotes shall apply. For example, a current three bedroom, 1300 square foot home would be able to add building area to have a total of 2250 square feet of building area with no change in their approved system, provided no additional bedrooms are added. No part of the existing structure, or the addition to the structure shall be allowed to cover any part of the system.


Specific Authority 11-26-06.

FBC Building

Section  13- 202


Bedroom. Any residential room which has an area of 70 square feet (7 m2) or more and a clothes storage closet, and is not part of the common living area. For the purposes of this code, the number of “main” bedrooms for homes of three bedrooms or more is the total number of bedrooms less one. In one and two bedroom homes, all bedrooms are “main” bedrooms.


Webster’s Third New International Dictionary


Bedroom: A room furnished with a bed and intended primarily for sleeping


64E-6.004(5)(b) Application for System Construction Permit For residences, a floor plan drawn to scale or showing the total building area of the structure, at the applicants’ option, and showing the number of bedrooms and the building area of each dwelling unit. Non-residential establishments shall submit a floor plan drawn to scale showing the square footage of the establishment, all plumbing drains and fixture types, and any other features necessary to determine the composition and quantity of wastewater to be generated. Plumbing fixtures located at a non-residential establishment shall be included on the floor plan, but need not be drawn to scale


Specific Authority 11-26-06.




Bedroom: Defined as having a minimum of 70 square feet of usable space, with a window and closet. A bedroom may be below ground level. A room cannot be considered a bedroom if it is used to access another room, unless the other room is a bathroom.














FBC Residential  304

R304.1 Minimum area.

Every dwelling unit shall have at least one habitable room that shall have not less than 120 square feet (11.2 m2) of gross floor area.

R304.2 Other rooms.

Other habitable rooms shall have a floor area of not less than 70 square feet (6.5 m2).

Exception: Kitchens.

R304.3 Minimum dimensions.

Habitable rooms shall not be less than 7 feet (2134 mm) in any


Energy Information Administration (EIA)



Bedroom: Room intended for sleeping, even if not presently used for sleeping. Number of bedrooms are those that would be listed as descriptive of the apartment or house if it were on the market for sale or rent. A one-room efficiency or studio apartment has no bedrooms.



horizontal dimension.

Exception: Kitchens.

R304.4 Height effect on room area.

Portions of a room with a sloping ceiling measuring less than 5 feet (1524 mm) or a furred ceiling measuring less than 7 feet (2134 mm) from the finished floor to the finished ceiling shall not be considered as contributing to the minimum required habitable area for that room.

Sonoma County Code


Bedroom: Any space in the conditioned area of a dwelling unit or accessory structure which is 70 square feet and greater in size and which is located along an exterior wall



FBC Residential  310.1

R310.1 Emergency escape and rescue required. Basements with habitable space and every sleeping room shall have at least one openable emergency escape and rescue opening.

Maricopa County


Bedroom: Any habitable room that can be used for sleeping. This typically includes, but is not limited to, a room with a proper escape window and one in which there is a closet or a door or a closet or a door could be reasonably installed

File: 2_bedroom_definition08


Town of Guilford, ASSESSOR’S OFFICE


A bedroom has one doorway to provide entry and to ensure privacy. However Generally speaking, a bedroom has a closet. Note: There is no one universal definition of what a bedroom is. Each Town Department and/or Agency may have a different definition