Home Fix: Dwight Barnett answers home-improvement questions. This week's topic is on windows meeting safety standards.
Q: My home was built in 1989 with upgraded windows. The double-hung aluminum-clad wood windows are starting to show their age. We want new vinyl, high-efficiency, double-hung windows, but the village is giving us a hard time with the permit. It says the bedroom windows must meet egress requirements of a 5.7-square-foot opening.
If the old windows do not meet that, the new replacement windows must be no smaller than the existing windows. The replacement windows in a couple rooms are a little smaller. We have the windows here already.
Have you ever heard of a town being that picky? What do other people do?
A: The 1986 CABO One- & Two-Family Dwelling Code, section R-211.2, had a minimum requirement for a bedroom window of 5.7 square feet.
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Apparently your home did not meet codes when it was built, and the village is within its rights to require the upgrade. The heading for this code is “Emergency Egress Openings” and should be taken seriously.
Not only is the window designed for egress in case there is a fire or other emergency, it might also serve as a means of rescue by first responders.
Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home-improvement questions at d.Barnett@insightbb.com. Sorry, no personal replies. Always consult local contractors and codes.