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  1. #1

    Default Window sill height

    For pre 1989 homes does anyone know if the sill height requirements are different from today??

    Today = no more than 44 inches off of the floor.

    Also I will need the code reference, thanks

    Last edited by Jeff Zehnder; 06-29-2014 at 03:28 PM. Reason: details
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    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Zehnder View Post
    For pre 1989 homes does anyone know if the sill height requirements are different from today??

    Today = no more than 44 inches off of the floor.

    Also I will need the code reference, thanks
    I think you might want to look at Section 312 of the IRC.

    I would not worry what it was in 1989, just report what you found today.... I know you are in NC and if you quote codes you must cite the code for when the home was built, etc... This is one of the screwy parts of the NC law. Just report what you found and don't say anything about the code. Just say that construction guidelines do not allow this now, or something like that.... But, you need to be sure what you are reporting on is an issue.... Take a look at section 312...

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Zehnder View Post
    For pre 1989 homes does anyone know if the sill height requirements are different from today??

    Today = no more than 44 inches off of the floor.

    Also I will need the code reference, thanks
    44" applies only to EERO windows


  4. #4

    Default Re: Window sill height

    The issue was this was a home with a basement that was finished around 1989 and in a raer case i may need to quote code. I do not have books older that 1999

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    I know you are in NC and if you quote codes you must cite the code for when the home was built, etc... This is one of the screwy parts of the NC law.
    Scott,

    I haven't read the NC home inspector law, but I thought someone posted here that a home inspector could not reference NC codes ... and the way around that was to reference the IRC - or is my memory going?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6

    Default Re: Window sill height

    Sorry for the repeated posts but just to be clear...

    Home was built in the 70s but the basement was supposedly finished in 1989 with permits.
    It has a family room, bath and bedroom.
    The bedroom window is very high off of the floor, over 54 inches to the sill.
    The issue is this will likely be a deal breaker so i am dotting my Is and crossing my Ts.

    I have advisedP6292516.JPGP6292517.JPG my clients to ask for copies of the 1989 paperwork but i am not holding my breath.

    It is an obvious safety issue!

    I wanted to beef it up with the 1989 code if possible but i don not have copies that old.
    Suggestions and help are appreciated...

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Scott,

    I haven't read the NC home inspector law, but I thought someone posted here that a home inspector could not reference NC codes ... and the way around that was to reference the IRC - or is my memory going?
    I'm pretty sure in NC, if a home inspector references codes it must be the code in effect when the home was built. Otherwise they can't quote a code in the report or say something is not built to code.....

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    This provision first appeared in the Uniform Building Code in 1964, and the requirement was for a 48" sill height and 5.0 square foot opening. This was changed to 44" and 5.7 sq ft in the 1976 UBC. I don't know when this provision appeared in the BOCA or SBC.

    Thom Huggett, PE, SE, CBO

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Lets forget about codes for a minute. In my experience to get through the inspection process (especially on a basement) the owners will represent the use of the room for something else than what they really want to use it for. Lets just say they stated this was going to be a hobby room. Does a hobby room need an egress window??? Permit gets signed off by the city. Owner is then free to use the room for what they really wanted which was a bedroom. Now if the listing is calling this a bedroom then it should be inspected to the current safety standards

    I would call this out from a safety point of view that the room should have egress windows if its going to be continued to be a bedroom.

    //Rick

    Rick Bunzel
    WWW.PacCrestInspections.com
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Bunzel View Post
    Lets forget about codes for a minute. In my experience to get through the inspection process (especially on a basement) the owners will represent the use of the room for something else than what they really want to use it for. Lets just say they stated this was going to be a hobby room. Does a hobby room need an egress window??? Permit gets signed off by the city. Owner is then free to use the room for what they really wanted which was a bedroom. Now if the listing is calling this a bedroom then it should be inspected to the current safety standards

    I would call this out from a safety point of view that the room should have egress windows if its going to be continued to be a bedroom.

    //Rick
    Rick, I think you hit the nail on the head. The first thing I questioned in my mind was that there are codes for tempered glass requirement and for egress. I was almost questioning which was meant in the original post. Certainly if the basement is ever going to be slept in as a bedroom it MUST have legal egress. We don't care if the egress is a door or a window or even a spiral stair in another location from the main entrance possibly. The egress must have met code at installation if it was for bedroom types of use. If windows are replaced then they will have to meet the new codes. If the use is changed new permits should be obtained and whatever build out is required should transpire.

    Any real estate agent listing the property as a basement bedroom could be in a lot of grief.

    Unfortnately, I had new low E glass windows installed in a house that was built under old codes. The replacement window did not meet current code (by less than 1/4 inch in width opening) and was red-tagged. This was in my own home (my first real big mistake …it was 2 identical windows of high quality and the vedor did not mention the code issue!). I elected to leave the red tag on the house until sold and disclose it at sale, there wasn't anyting that the city could really do until it sold. It had to be cleared at title transfer so new windows were installed then and I had nothing out of pocket as the buyer had the permits and order of replacement in hand at closing (along with a new roof as well). Dont worry I got substanitially more than 250K over any other house on the block.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Bunzel View Post
    Lets forget about codes for a minute. In my experience to get through the inspection process (especially on a basement) the owners will represent the use of the room for something else than what they really want to use it for. Lets just say they stated this was going to be a hobby room. Does a hobby room need an egress window??? Permit gets signed off by the city. Owner is then free to use the room for what they really wanted which was a bedroom. Now if the listing is calling this a bedroom then it should be inspected to the current safety standards

    I would call this out from a safety point of view that the room should have egress windows if its going to be continued to be a bedroom.

    //Rick
    Just to clarify, older codes required a secondary means of egress for bedrooms in basements. The IRC now requires this for all habitable rooms in basements.

    As for the window sill height, the 1978 BOCA code required a sill height of not more that 44 inches. Same in 1986 CABO.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    Just to clarify, older codes required a secondary means of egress for bedrooms in basements. The IRC now requires this for all habitable rooms in basements.

    As for the window sill height, the 1978 BOCA code required a sill height of not more that 44 inches. Same in 1986 CABO.
    Mark,
    Are you suggesting that the new code applies when selling the house? If the inspection passed for use in 1998 or whatever isnt that use still grandfathered until a new permit is issued for work on it?


  13. #13

    Default Re: Window sill height

    To all who participated and responded as well as the great silent majority.

    My intent was to exchange thoughts, i wrote the report and listed that basement window as safety concern and my client understood.

    The issue is...one question is... would/should this have been allowed under the applicable codes in 1989. No records are available and a lot of finger point was going on with the seller, realtor and my clients. Who knows how but the basement had a bedroom with a fairly high sill. It appears the basement was finished in 1989 with some sort of approvals from the local AHJs.

    Should it have been? NC home inspection regulations allow for code to be used but if it is used you must site references in the report, version, page etc. I did not cite code but listed it as a safety issue and questions when it was done according to the advertised sales brochure of the home.

    Follow ups?

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Jeanis View Post
    Mark,
    Are you suggesting that the new code applies when selling the house? If the inspection passed for use in 1998 or whatever isnt that use still grandfathered until a new permit is issued for work on it?
    No, I was just making the point as to what is typically required now. Assuming that it met code when the work was performed, then upgrading would not typically be required.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Window sill height

    Sill height aside, the window doesn't appear big enough to meet the 5.7 sq. ft. requirement. Minimum double/single hung window size to meet this today (with most windows) is a 3-0 x 5-2 and the window pictured looks to be much smaller than that.


  16. #16

    Default Re: Window sill height

    Chris, you are correct the window is too small as well.
    Another reason i just listed it as a safety concern that needed corrective actions!

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

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