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  1. #1
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    Default basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    What year did the IRC first require an egress window to be installed in basement bedrooms?

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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    From its inception (when no other means of egress exist, such as a DOOR to the exterior).

    If you want historical data regarding larger egress sized windows in lieu of other egress forms, in habital space below grade, you'll have to specify the precursor codes (legacy published or self-authored; for example BOCA, ICBO, SBCCI, etc.) for your jurisidiction.

    The International Residential Code in and of itself, hasn't been around all that long. Heck, the I.C.C. wasn't established until 1994 with a goal to develop a single set of standardized codes.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 01-18-2011 at 07:24 PM.

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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    1997 - However, its birth mothers, the Building Officials Code Administrators - BOCA; International Conference of Building Officials - ICBO; and the Southern Building Code Conference - SBCC joined forces and became the International Code Conference, which in turn spewed forth the International Residential Code- IRC.

    You ever wonder why most had the term "international" in their name?
    It was because "Intergalactic" had already been taken.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    From its inception (when no other means of egress exist, such as a DOOR to the exterior).

    .

    The International Residential Code in and of itself, hasn't been around all that long.
    True; bad question.

    House built in 1987 and has a walk-out basement but the bedroom does not have a window or door directly leading out. Exit the bedroom into the family room which has the door. Based on the old school bathroom tile/cabinets/shower, it appears have been built with the house.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Clark View Post
    What year did the IRC first require an egress window to be installed in basement bedrooms?
    "basement bedrooms"

    Not sure why that specific question, but there is no difference in "basement bedrooms" and "third floor bedrooms" in a dwelling unit ... they are "bedrooms" ... and "bedrooms" (referred to as "sleeping rooms" in the codes) ... er ... "sleeping rooms" have required emergency egress and rescue openings for a long way back.

    Regarding the IRC, the first IRC was the 2000 IRC, followed by the 2003 IRC, then the 2006 IRC, then the 2009 IRC, which is to be followed by the 2012 IRC ... (the ICC codes are updated in 3 year cycles).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    1997 - However, its birth mothers, the Building Officials Code Administrators - BOCA; International Conference of Building Officials - ICBO; and the Southern Building Code Conference - SBCC joined forces and became the International Code Conference, which in turn spewed forth the International Residential Code- IRC.

    You ever wonder why most had the term "international" in their name?
    It was because "Intergalactic" had already been taken.
    Was there an IRC in 1997? or even an IBC? Because IIRC ICBO published a UBC after the ICC was established and for some reason I'm recalling BOCA codes just prior to 2000.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    "basement bedrooms"

    Not sure why that specific question, .. "sleeping rooms" have required emergency egress and rescue openings for a long way back.
    Specific question due to needing to know what was required when the home was built. If no emergency egress required, I will make it a suggestion. If required, then big red flag and buyer walks away. I think it probably was required but I just want to be sure.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Yep, I didn't think there was an IBC before 2000.

    Quote Originally Posted by ICC

    The International Code Council (ICC) was established in 1994 as a non-profit organization dedicated to developing a single set of comprehensive and coordinated national model construction codes. The founders of the ICC are Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI). Since the early part of the last century, these non-profit organizations developed three separate sets of model codes used throughout the United States. Although regional code development has been effective and responsive to our country’s needs, the time came for a single set of codes. The nation’s three model code groups responded by creating the International Code Council and by developing codes without regional limitations; the International Codes.
    Anyone recall the first date of adoption of a 2000 I-Code by a jurisdiction?


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Clark View Post
    Specific question due to needing to know what was required when the home was built. If no emergency egress required, I will make it a suggestion. If required, then big red flag and buyer walks away. I think it probably was required but I just want to be sure.
    It would NOT have been uncommon for a 3/4 or 1/2 bath to have been original on the lower level adacent to a family room at that time. Partitioning off and FINISHING as a "so called" "bedroom" was likely done at a later time. It may have been partitioned off originally but "unfinished" or designated as "storage" space, "closet", shop/hobby room, etc.

    It is generally OUT of the ordinary for an H.I. to be engaging in code enforcement. Some jurisdictions did not require or do much regards to permitting or code enforcement in existing properties in more remote areas. If you are going to be dabbling in this area, I recommend checking with the authority having jurisdiction, and requesting a plans and permit check as well as the potential buyer having a discussion with their (future or present) home owner's insurance agent/underwriter.

    There should be some sort of window or source of natural ventillation and light in the room, regardless - to be "habital" as well as minimum headroom clearances and square footage required for a minimal bedroom even in the legacy codes.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    It is generally OUT of the ordinary for an H.I. to be engaging in code enforcement.

    I have not seen where he is doing code enforcement, only wanting to have backup for calling out the lack of EERO for bedrooms.

    The key to that is to not refer to it as a "basement" bedroom but to simply refer to it as a "bedroom", in which case if the local code required EERO for "bedrooms" it would have required EERO for ALL "bedrooms" without regard to their location within the single family dwelling.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I have not seen where he is doing code enforcement, only wanting to have backup for calling out the lack of EERO for bedrooms.
    Exactly. Let's say I point this out and the deal falls apart but the EERO was not required until 1990. Seller then goes after me for trying to "make an old house new" and the way things work in this state, if it was not required at the time of construction, you should not make it a repair item. One can put just about anything in the "body" of the report but not the summary.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Clark View Post
    Exactly. Let's say I point this out and the deal falls apart but the EERO was not required until 1990. Seller then goes after me for trying to "make an old house new" and the way things work in this state, if it was not required at the time of construction, you should not make it a repair item. One can put just about anything in the "body" of the report but not the summary.
    Which, of course, was exactly my POINT (I noted your stated location, presumed NC, and yes am somewhat familar with the very precise requirements when envoking code references to NC HI).

    It matters when the separate walled/doored off ROOM was created and finished, IF not so designated on the ORIGINAL plans (which, as stated above, I doubt was originally delinated and finished as a "bedroom") as a finished "bedroom". If said finished "bedroom" was NOT original - then NOT the date of home construction, but the date at time of the MODIFICATION and which edition/ammendment status of the "codes" at the time the permit/plans for the modification took place. Thus, the reference to inquire/visit the local building department for the appropriate data and references pertaining specifically to the home and room in quesiton.

    Further - Property maintenance and/or other similar codes may indicate the minimum required shared spaces based on the number of identified legal bedrooms of the home - for example square footage of common dining area, living room/family room area, etc.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Good points. Thanks for the input.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    First off as HG stated is this room a sleeping room? Could this room have been aproved as a office, play room, craft room etc.? Is this room listed by the seller as a sleeping room? All of this is relevant to the requirement for a EERO since there is not a clear definition of a sleeping room.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Under NC regulations you can certainly report the lack of EERO as a SAFETY ITEM and place it the summary section.

    Building Code and Agents define bedrooms (sleeping rooms) differently. Agents are looking for a closet. Code requires a bedroom or "sleeping room" to have a smoke detector (313.1), EERO (310.1), and 8% natural light (303.1).

    In NC you are inspecting to Safety and Habitability. The bedroom is neither Safe or Habitable because it does not have EERO and natural light. It is not a bedroom or sleeping room. You are not quoting code, you are reporting UNSAFE conditions in the home. Explain to your client your concerns about safety. Let them make the decision on how they want to use the room.

    Also keep in mind that the NC home inspector law only limits comments regarding the "NC STATE RESIDENTIAL BUILDING CODE". If you refer to any other version of codes, then technically there is no issue. The IRC is NOT the NC CODE and therefore could be referenced and still meet the letter of the law. See below, emphasis mine.

    "The summary page must describe any system or component of the home that does not function as intended, allowing for normal wear and tear that does not prevent the system or component from functioning as intended. The summary page must also describe any system or component that appears not to function as intended, based upon documented tangible evidence, and that requires either subsequent examination or further investigation by a specialist. The summary page may describe any system or component that poses a safety concern.

    (a2) State Building Code. – If a licensee includes a deficiency in the written report of a home inspection that is stated as a violation of the North Carolina State Residential Building Code, the licensee must do all of the following
    ..."

    It is really nice that NC adopts the IRC almost completely in whole a mere year behind its release date. If its in the IRC, it is almost always in the NC RBC.


    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Clark View Post
    Exactly. Let's say I point this out and the deal falls apart but the EERO was not required until 1990. Seller then goes after me for trying to "make an old house new" and the way things work in this state, if it was not required at the time of construction, you should not make it a repair item. One can put just about anything in the "body" of the report but not the summary.
    Your entire scenario is unrealistic ... by writing it up as NOT being there IS NOT "requiring it", you are simply advising your client that THEIR LIVES *MAY* BE AT RISK due to the fact that there is no EERO and they may not get out alive.

    You SHOULD make it a 'written up' item. Not sure why you call it a "repair item" you are not calling out items which are required to be repaired, you are calling out items which are not right and not safe, and that certainly is not safe, not as recognized today.

    Your logic could be applied to any of the items you should be writing up for your client.

    The type of logic you are stating is taught by home inspection schools, but IS NOT used by real life home inspectors with experience under their belts. Home inspector schools teach A LOT OF 'home inspector lore', such as 'if you write up one safety deficiency then you need to write up all safety deficiencies as you are doing a safety inspection', and 'if you write up one code item then you need to write up all code items as you are doing a code inspection', and other such 'home inspector lore' nonsense

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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Not versed in NC law, but, instead of getting wrapped up in Code is it not permissible to describe the property and offer an opinion about use and potential hazard issues that the client may have in the future?

    By example: The room in the basement, if used as a bedroom, will put the occupant at risk in the event of a fire.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Was there an IRC in 1997? or even an IBC? Because IIRC ICBO published a UBC after the ICC was established and for some reason I'm recalling BOCA codes just prior to 2000.
    It went something like this; in 1986, 89, 92, 95, & 98 we had the CABO One & Two Family Dwelling Code.

    Then came the 2000 IRC followed by the 2003, 2006 and currently the 2009.

    Californina has adopted the 2009 IRC with various amendments, not all of them very smart, and call it the California Residential Code, or CRC 2010, which was adopted by all state jurisdictions as of Jan.1, 2011.

    The Uniform Building Code (UBC) was first published in 1927 and the last one in 1997. (I have every one of them either in hard copy or on disk)

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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Clark View Post
    What year did the IRC first require an egress window to be installed in basement bedrooms?
    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    From its inception (when no other means of egress exist, such as a DOOR to the exterior).

    If you want historical data regarding larger egress sized windows in lieu of other egress forms, in habital space below grade, you'll have to specify the precursor codes (legacy published or self-authored; for example BOCA, ICBO, SBCCI, etc.) for your jurisidiction.

    The International Residential Code in and of itself, hasn't been around all that long. Heck, the I.C.C. wasn't established until 1994 with a goal to develop a single set of standardized codes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    1997 - However, its birth mothers, the Building Officials Code Administrators - BOCA; International Conference of Building Officials - ICBO; and the Southern Building Code Conference - SBCC joined forces and became the International Code Conference, which in turn spewed forth the International Residential Code- IRC.

    You ever wonder why most had the term "international" in their name?
    It was because "Intergalactic" had already been taken.
    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Was there an IRC in 1997? or even an IBC? Because IIRC ICBO published a UBC after the ICC was established and for some reason I'm recalling BOCA codes just prior to 2000.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    It went something like this; in 1986, 89, 92, 95, & 98 we had the CABO One & Two Family Dwelling Code.

    Then came the 2000 IRC followed by the 2003, 2006 and currently the 2009.

    Californina has adopted the 2009 IRC with various amendments, not all of them very smart, and call it the California Residential Code, or CRC 2010, which was adopted by all state jurisdictions as of Jan.1, 2011.

    The Uniform Building Code (UBC) was first published in 1927 and the last one in 1997. (I have every one of them either in hard copy or on disk)
    Randall, the UBC and CABO were western states and mid-west. Despite Jerry McCarthy's first assertion that EERO was either first required in 1997, or that there was even an IRC published in 1997, obviously is wrong.

    I don't know why he spouts off so erroneously, then describes his extensive library but doesn't use it, nor share its contents.

    I'll throw out what I remember, because frankly, I doubt he could find the information if he wasn't directly pointed to it first by someone else.

    1964 UBC for group H & I occupancies (hotels, apartment houses, dwellings, lodging houses, monistaries and nunnaries) for all sleeping rooms on the 4th floor and below, have at least one openable window or exterior door to permit emergency exit and rescue. Where windows are provided a sill height of not more than 48 inches above floor, and provide not less than five square feet of openable area with no dimension less than 22 inches.
    That remained relatively unchanged in the UBC until 1976 when the minimum openable area became 5.7 square feet, the maximum sill height lowered to 44 inches, the minimum openable height increased to 24 inches and the minimum allowable openable width reduced to 20 inches.

    It should be noted that the UBC did not apply directly to detached one and two family dwelling units unless locally ammended to do so. They were regulated by the one and two family dwelling code known as the CABO. The CABO also adopted the same dimensions and maximum allowable sill heights. Again, both the UBC and the CABO were model codes drafted for the western and midwestern states, and I do not recall either being adopted or used for North Carolina.

    You can review the history of building codes and their adoptions with your own jurisdiction.

    Generally it has been recognized that deaths attributed to the lack of an available and adequate emergency exit and rescue opening in sleeping rooms has and continues to be a problem. Accessibility for both the occupant to escape, and for emergency rescue personel in full protective gear and breathing apparatus making entry so as to rescue occupants has been what has driven the changes in the height, minimum dimensions and overall open area or clear openings.

    Presently the unammended IRC allows for a slightly smaller overall minimum clear open area on sleeping rooms' eero's at grade level, as I recall.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    As an inspector, don't confuse the difference between an egress requirement in a habitable basement and an egress window required in a bedroom. As Jerry mentioned a bedroom requires egress regardless of it's location.

    The IRC has also changed to require egress windows in ALL basements, regardless of having habitable space. There are a few exceptions... not going into that though. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that was 2006?

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

  21. #21

    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Re: CABO in NC... if I remember? the CABO came into NC in the early '90s?


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Clark View Post
    Specific question due to needing to know what was required when the home was built. If no emergency egress required, I will make it a suggestion. If required, then big red flag and buyer walks away. I think it probably was required but I just want to be sure.
    Why do you need to know WHEN? I know NC has rules about calling code violations in inspection reports but why refer to it as a building code issue. It is a common sense safety issue. I don't know how you create reports but I would like to think you could easily explain why having a second means of egress is important. It helps when you have a client tagging along and they can readily visualize the hazard.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  23. #23
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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Basement Egress; The 2009 IRC and 2010 CRC are identical on this section of the code.

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  24. #24

    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Randal: I would report your findings and recommend an applicable contractor evalute and advise and repair if needed.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Clark View Post
    Exactly. Let's say I point this out and the deal falls apart but the EERO was not required until 1990. Seller then goes after me for trying to "make an old house new" and the way things work in this state, if it was not required at the time of construction, you should not make it a repair item. One can put just about anything in the "body" of the report but not the summary.
    Wouldn't worry about that. "In your opinion" this is a safety item that needs to be pointed out to your client

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
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    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    Wouldn't worry about that. "In your opinion" this is a safety item that needs to be pointed out to your client
    Good points - thank you for your input.

    In this case the client is fully aware of the situation as is their agent. However, the difference between summary vs. body in NC is twofold - you can't make an old house new (see below) and if the deal falls apart, which in many cases this would make it fall apart, the seller may go after me for telling the buyer the house is not safe. If not a requirement when the home was built, I have some liability. Seller often receives just the summary and not the body. They see that I told buyer the home was a death trap due to something not required when built, I see a potential big problem. I did find out that the secondary exit is in the 1985 NC code book - not sure prior to that though but other sources above mention it decades earlier.

    So, how many of you take a safety item and put it in the summary when it was not required when the home was built? Thus telling the buyer that the home should not be occupied until such "defects" are repaired. Example, do you take a 1969 house and say that GFCI protection is missing and is needed? 2000 house and say that interconnected A/C powered smokes not present in all sleeping areas and need to be? 2005 house that does not have AFCI breakers in places other than bedrooms and child proof outlet covers? Open hand rail ends on a 1980 house? Deck band not bolted to house framing on a 1988 house? These are all safety issues but none were required when the home was built. I take these issues and place them in the body as a recommendation.

    You are correct, it is a common sense issue but I am also thinking about liability which could go both ways… and I guess I'd rather put this in the summary and deal with the seller if something should come up.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Clark View Post
    So, how many of you take a safety item and put it in the summary when it was not required when the home was built? Thus telling the buyer that the home should not be occupied until such "defects" are repaired. Example, do you take a 1969 house and say that GFCI protection is missing and is needed? 2000 house and say that interconnected A/C powered smokes not present in all sleeping areas and need to be? 2005 house that does not have AFCI breakers in places other than bedrooms and child proof outlet covers? Open hand rail ends on a 1980 house? Deck band not bolted to house framing on a 1988 house? These are all safety issues but none were required when the home was built. I take these issues and place them in the body as a recommendation.

    You are correct, it is a common sense issue but I am also thinking about liability which could go both ways… and I guess I'd rather put this in the summary and deal with the seller if something should come up.
    I see your point. I'm lucky I can say whatever I want here. Shortage of lawyers, maybe.
    The examples you give here are less extreme safety items. In my country, we still have not fully gone to AFCI's and GFCI's everywhere, and no one is dying from it. A trip hazard is a hazard, nothing more.
    Smoke alarms, I always call for, but they can be the battery type in an older home, no problem.
    Emergency exits for a bedroom is a life and death issue. No one can fault you for pointing that out. You may be saving a life.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Clark View Post
    Good points - thank you for your input.

    In this case the client is fully aware of the situation as is their agent. However, the difference between summary vs. body in NC is twofold - you can't make an old house new (see below) and if the deal falls apart, which in many cases this would make it fall apart, the seller may go after me for telling the buyer the house is not safe. If not a requirement when the home was built, I have some liability. Seller often receives just the summary and not the body. They see that I told buyer the home was a death trap due to something not required when built, I see a potential big problem. I did find out that the secondary exit is in the 1985 NC code book - not sure prior to that though but other sources above mention it decades earlier.

    So, how many of you take a safety item and put it in the summary when it was not required when the home was built? Thus telling the buyer that the home should not be occupied until such "defects" are repaired. Example, do you take a 1969 house and say that GFCI protection is missing and is needed? 2000 house and say that interconnected A/C powered smokes not present in all sleeping areas and need to be? 2005 house that does not have AFCI breakers in places other than bedrooms and child proof outlet covers? Open hand rail ends on a 1980 house? Deck band not bolted to house framing on a 1988 house? These are all safety issues but none were required when the home was built. I take these issues and place them in the body as a recommendation.

    You are correct, it is a common sense issue but I am also thinking about liability which could go both ways… and I guess I'd rather put this in the summary and deal with the seller if something should come up.
    We don't have the "summary" requirement in TX that you do in NC. Regarding the other examples you mentioned -- in TX -- YES

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    I realize it's an ancient post, but it brought home a Holmes Home Inspection episode on TV last night--the muscle underwear guy went through the entire property, rambling on and on about everything wrong with it, all while grumbling what a poor job the homeowners' inspector did for them in writing up his report. However, Mr. Holmes completely overlooked the teeny, tiny basement bedroom windows (less than 12" deep, a good 5' off the floor) as not being sufficient to permit emergency exit from the rooms.

    Unless I dozed off when he did so--his steady, monotone preaching has a tendency to do that. But I'm always amused as he methodically tears a place apart while doing his "home inspections." Canadian rules allow that, I guess.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Maybe he did in the French version.


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    Default Re: basement bedroom- no window - what year required?

    Quote Originally Posted by BridgeMan View Post
    I realize it's an ancient post, but it brought home a Holmes Home Inspection episode on TV last night--the muscle underwear guy went through the entire property, rambling on and on about everything wrong with it, all while grumbling what a poor job the homeowners' inspector did for them in writing up his report. However, Mr. Holmes completely overlooked the teeny, tiny basement bedroom windows (less than 12" deep, a good 5' off the floor) as not being sufficient to permit emergency exit from the rooms.

    Unless I dozed off when he did so--his steady, monotone preaching has a tendency to do that. But I'm always amused as he methodically tears a place apart while doing his "home inspections." Canadian rules allow that, I guess.
    He's in Ontario and they have something like 9 HI associations (Raymond?), but no licensing.
    Big Mike is a TV personality, not a home inspector, but if he was, he can and will follow his own personal SOP anyway. And, yes, the crew has drywall off so Mike can point to the mould. That's showbiz.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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