Defining a bathroom

Q: This is regarding the question in your column about what constitutes a bedroom. If the house is not on a sewer, the size of the septic system may restrict the number of bedrooms. My sister recently put on an addition in New Hampshire for a den, and the town said it never could be used or marketed as a bedroom unless they enlarged the septic system. — W.G.

A: Thanks for writing. I think that pretty much wraps up the number-of-bedrooms matter.

One-quarter bath

known as ‘outhouse’

Q: Back in the late ’70s, I was searching for a home in New England. In one ad, a house was listed with 11/4 baths. When I asked the real estate agent what that meant, I was told the property included an outhouse (1/4). I guess at that time it was a fairly common practice. — C.

A: And that, let’s agree, is a great finish for the number-of-baths discussion.

‘Paper trail’ can

also be ‘vocal trail’

Q: If I represent myself and present a purchase proposal to the seller’s agent, shouldn’t they send me in writing the seller’s answer? I did this recently, and the seller’s agent phoned me with the seller’s answer and never did put it in writing. I always thought this had to be done in writing so there is a paper trail. — C.

A: You don’t say what the seller’s answer was, but if it was an acceptance, it should be in writing. Otherwise you don’t have a legally binding contract.

But if it was a refusal, those are seldom written. Sometimes a seller just lets an offer expire unanswered.

Edith Lank will respond personally to any questions sent to her at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester, NY 14620 (please include a stamped return envelope), or readers may e-mail her at

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