American Home Specs

On MTV’s “Cribs” when giving the specs of the home they give the area, the number of bedrooms and a number of “Baths” and I, in my infinate wisdom assume this refers to bathrooms.
However, sometimes the numbers seem rather strange, i.e. 3 beds, 6 baths… why would a three bedroom home require 6 bathrooms? What is a bathroom? Does a single W.C count? Is it the practise in the US for an estate agent to give specs on houses in this way on a brochure? Why is the Brit system not employed (i.e. 3 Beds, 2 Reception rooms, kitchen and bathroom listed on their own)?

A listed bathroom, Theom, is a full bath. Toilet (W.C.), tub and/or shower, sink. There are also half-baths where there is only a toilet and sink, but they are always listed as half-baths.

I don’t know what a reception room is, but usually a kitchen will be listed (I think, although that might be assumed).

Other thinks you will see in listings are ‘living room’, ‘dining room’ (which usually means a separate, formal, room), ‘family room’, garage, etc.

I can’t explain why a 3 bedroom house would have 6 baths, but I know I have seen this also. Lots of extra baths for entertaining? I don’t know.


A reception is a livable room so a house with three reception rooms will probably have A Dining room, a living room and a study.

Where I live (In Canada) discriptions given are like:

Full bathroom = Toilet, sink and tub w/shower.
1/2 = Toilet and sink.
3/4 = Toilet, sink and shower.

Interestingly enough, for sq/ft is generally only the above ground, finished living space and rooms.

For example, my home is approx 1400sq/ft with 3 bedrooms 2 full baths, large kitchen and living area.

3 bedroom = 1 master (usually) and 2 “spare” bedrooms.

My basment is also approx 2/3 finished, so I’ve got about another 700-800 sq/ft down there (fireplace, living room, pool table) but this room would not be counted in the square footage of the home, although it would be mentioned as an “extra”.

For example , if I were to sell my house an ad would say something like:

1400FT[sup]2[/sup] Bi-Level with large double attached garage. 3 bedrooms, 2 full bath. Soaker tub in ensuite [sub](the bathroom off the master bedroom)[/sub]. Large dining and living room with fireplace. Partially finished basement with large living area and rec area with fireplace."

I wouldn’t actually list the basement footage even though actually developed living space is over 2000sq/ft. Is it like that elsewhere?

Multiple bathrooms are a nice feature in many modern homes in North America. Many homes have a 1/2 bath off of the main living area (kitchen/living room), a full bath off the guest bedrooms and a full or 3/4 ensuite for the master. If the basement is finished, it is also very common to have a toilet (or even a full bath) down there so people don’t have to go upstairs everytime they need to take a leak. However, 6 seems a little excessive.

What is a “reception” room? A “living” room or den?

Three bedrooms with six baths? Seems a little out of line, but not by much. An upscale house could have a bath for each bedroom, a guest bath, and perhaps a half bath, no tub or shower, in the “mudroom”. I’m not sure how to fit another one in there. maybe two guest baths?

A single WC would be a “half bath”, but there would usually be a sink (lavatory). When you say a single W.C, would that have a sink in the room. That would be a half bath in most of the USA.

What’s a 'reception room"?

A receiving room is now usually something of a bygone era. This is the room in which one receives visitors who are not specifically invited to dinner or some other purpose but are not intimately enough known to be taken into the living room, the den, the lounge, the library, the smoking room, the conservatory, or other rooms.

No, I do not own a house with all the above rooms, but I hope to, some day. Alas, I have knowledge enough for any aristocrat, but bank accounts more suitable for the plebe I am.

Here’s a link to a fairly typical home ad. And here’s another one, a little more pricey.

In the newspaper classified section, in which the price increases per word, often kitchens and living rooms are omitted because it’s assumed they exist.

(On a side not, I was astonished when in London at the prices of houses!)

The problem isn’t with counting bathrooms, it’s with counting bedrooms. I don’t know the exact criteria - I am not a realtor - but I understand that there are some very specific requirements that must be met before you can list a room as a “bedroom.” The house listed as “3 BR / 6 BA” probably has numerous extra rooms that can’t be counted as bedrooms, probably due to a lack of closets, or being below grade. I know I’ve seen real estate listings for 3000 square foot houses that still only have 3 bedrooms - either those are some godawful huge bedrooms, or there are several other rooms not being counted.


Well, here in Michigan the basement cannot count as square footage – finished or not. It is always listed as an extra, though, and does increase the value of a house. Sometimes in split-level houses where there’s not a “real” basement – part of the ground floor is like half a basement – that does count as square footage.

We just put our house up for sale late last week. I was worried about the bedroom I’d converted into an office (no, it wasn’t just a matter of saying “you’re an office”). He said as long as there’s a closet, it can be called a bedroom.

Finally, my wife’s old house currently has 4 bedrooms, and 7 bathrooms. It used to have plenty more of both, but the whole lower level was converted into a set of shops. Presumably each has its own bathroom :).

MTV “Cribs” is not a realistic view of a normal home in the US. These are high end expensive homes. I can see the 3 bedroom/6 bath thing - many costly homes include bedroom “suites” that include a large bedroom and a private bath.

Then add in a bathroom close to the kitchen/dining room area, another in the vicinity of the family room/TV room area, and another by the pool. There ya go, six baths.

Cribs: I’ve seen some bedroom homes with seven baths plus.

Master bath and one for each bedroom = 4

Main floor = 1/2

Basement or rec area = 1

Pool/Cabana = 2 (his and hers)

(The pool area usually features 2 baths when people have dough. I do tile work on the side, and many expensive homes with elaborate pool houses have 2 more right there…and they are his/hers because they are for changing too)