Egress Window Building Code Regulations and SpecificationsThe following guidelines are referenced from the 2006 International Residential Code
Egress Windows- Safety First!
Building Code currently requires egress windows be installed in each basement bedroom. If the basement does not have a bedroom and is over 220 square feet, one egress window is required.
Basement Windows of Denver by Kruse Construction installs code complaint egress windows that are all inspected by City Building Inspectors.
How do I know if my egress window is to code?
Building code changes throughout the years, and new criteria is often implemented based on new technology and a better understanding of safer and more efficient building procedures. Even though your home may have been built to code at the time, you may find your egress window no longer meets the requirements.
While older homes don’t have any form of egress windows, homes built in the late 80’s into the 90’s do have egress windows, they do not meet current building code. For example, the current building code requires a 36” projection of the well (in to out), however may during that era only have a 24” projection. This will require a window well replacement to bring your egress window up to code.
Egress Window as a Safety Escape Route
There are many benefits of having an egress window but safety is by far the most crucial. Before the early 1980’s, code did not require the installation of egress windows. Therefore thousands of older homes do not have basement windows that can accommodate an adult utilizing the window as an escape route.
Fire is the most prevalent danger for not only family and occupants, but for fire rescue personnel. Fires can start and spread more rapidly that one might think, even if it is during the day or when you are wide awake, you are in danger. But the most common cause of death in a fire due to a lack of an egress window is a fire that is not even started in the basement. Fire from above can easily cause collapse thus endangering the life of anyone still in the house. If the floor was to collapse into the basement and there was proper egress, the chance of serious injury or death are drastically reduced. Homes built in the early 1900’s to 1950’s were built solid, but after a century of wear and tear, a fire would spread fiercely through the deteriorated structure beneath the surface.
Due to tragic stories, people are starting to take notice and egress windows are becoming paramount. With each passing year there are more organizations requiring egress windows be installed or they will deny you services or penalize you in some fashion.
Here a just a few examples of the growing list.
- Insurance Companies
- Loan Companies
- Real Estate Transactions
- Property Management Companies
- Rental/Section 8
Egress Windows Make a Sound Financial Investment
Besides safety, fresh air and light, egress windows are a great financial investment. Bedrooms in the basement are not counted as legal conforming bedrooms until they have one. Therefore having one will count as an extra bedroom, increasing the value of your home. You may want to rent your basement out for some extra income. Or perhaps you have a rental home; making that basement bedroom legally conforming means you get more rent money! Most property management companies’ demand there is an egress window in each bedroom. Even if you are handling the management of the rental on your own, wouldn’t you prefer to know that your tenants are safe? Not to mention the liability this could impose on you, should there be a tragic accident.
Examples of Complying Height & Width Combinations
Emergency Escape and Rescue Window Wells
Emergency Escape and Rescue Windows must meet the following criteria:
- Escape & rescue openings required for all sleeping rooms, basements, and habitable attics
- Basements < 200 sq. feet and only for mechanical equipment.
- Each basement sleeping room requires its own egress opening.
- Window sill height max 44 inches above floor.
- Minimum 20 inches wide and 24 inches height, 5.7 sq. feet clear opening area.
- 5.0 sq. feet OK if direct grade level access.
- Security bars require quick-release hardware.
- Window wells minimum 9.0 sq. feet and 36 inch minimum horizontal projection dimension.
- Permanent ladder required if >44 inches below grade
- Ladder may project 6 inches into required well space