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  1. #1
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    Default egress rule date

    What year did the 44" minimum window sill to floor measurement come into effect in the IRC?

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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    What year did the 44" minimum window sill to floor measurement come into effect in the IRC?
    Hello John,

    The IRC has always had the 44" requirement.

    Sincerely,

    Corey Friedman


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Let me ask this in a better way for John.

    In what year did any national residential building code authority specify the need for a max. sill height of 44" for egress windows?


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Whitmore View Post
    In what year did any national residential building code authority specify the need for a max. sill height of 44" for egress windows?

    Brandon,

    Let's answer that with a question: How old are you asking about?

    From my 1994 Standard Building Code on my computer (the oldest one I have on my computer): (bold and underlining are mine)

    - 1005.4 EMERGENCY EGRESS OPENINGS
    - - B1005.4.1 Every sleeping room on the first and second story of Group R occupancies shall have at least one operable exterior window or exterior door approved for emergency egress or rescue. The units must be operable from the inside to a full clear opening without the use of separate tools or keys. Where windows are provided as a means of egress or rescue, they shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the floor.
    - - B1005.4.2 The minimum net clear opening height dimension shall be 22 inches (559 mm). The minimum net clear opening width dimension shall be 20 inches (508 mm). The net clear opening area shall in no case be less than 4 sq ft (0.37 mē).
    - - B1005.4.3 Each egress window from sleeping rooms must have a minimum total glass area of not less than 5 sq ft (0.47 mē) in the case of a ground floor window and not less than 5.7 sq ft (0.53 mē) in the case of a second story window.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Whitmore View Post
    Let me ask this in a better way for John.

    In what year did any national residential building code authority specify the need for a max. sill height of 44" for egress windows?
    Hello Brandon,

    The oldest reference I have access to right now is 1989 BOCA and the 44" requirement is in there.

    Sincerely,

    Corey Friedman


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    I did a 1966 split level and all the upstairs bedroom window sills are way higher than 44". It is what it is up there but it's still a safety hazard. However, people would really laugh at me if I told them you can't call that a bedroom.

    Now, later in the life of the house, someone finished the basement and made what they call a bedroom down there. The sills are higher than 44". The later "addition" bedroom in the basement is the one I will freely question.

    Am I approaching this in the correct way?

    This is why I'm trying to nail a date down. It's mainly so I have a few more words to ramble on with. Either way, I always alert my clients to safety concerns. My thing is, people market 4 and 5 br when in reality it's only 3 br. That can make a difference in the value of a home, right?


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    I did a 1966 split level and all the upstairs bedroom window sills are way higher than 44". It is what it is up there but it's still a safety hazard. However, people would really laugh at me if I told them you can't call that a bedroom.

    Now, later in the life of the house, someone finished the basement and made what they call a bedroom down there. The sills are higher than 44". The later "addition" bedroom in the basement is the one I will freely question.

    Am I approaching this in the correct way?

    This is why I'm trying to nail a date down. It's mainly so I have a few more words to ramble on with. Either way, I always alert my clients to safety concerns. My thing is, people market 4 and 5 br when in reality it's only 3 br. That can make a difference in the value of a home, right?
    Hello John,
    Forget about the windows for a minute. What you are asking is at the very heart of the philosophy of performing home inspections and every area of the country does home inspections differently and everyone has their own philosophy on how to do this job. In some areas codes are used and referenced and in other areas, code is a four letter word. I don’t know what the expectations are where you are located.

    Personally, I think dates / codes are not relevant for make a determination of including or excluding something from an inspection report. Nor is it relevant about classifying a room as bedroom or den or study. In the end, the client just wants to know what they have and what is going on. If you think the windows pose an egress issue, tell them. Does it really matter when the rules changed? Do you report differently based on age? If yes, then you need to do research to determine what was in effect at a specific time. If not, tell them what you think about the issue. As an example: The bedroom windows are located higher than 44” off the floor which is recognized today as a minimum height for emergency egress. The windows may not be able to be effectively used and can be an entrapment hazard in the event emergency egress is needed.

    Simple. Now they know. They need to make their own decision if this is a concern to them or not.

    If your inspections are based on the code exclusively, the research you put into a report must be tremendous in order to figure out what the code was in effect for any particular structure and taking into account local amendments. For this specific situation, I doubt a mid 1966 house had the 44” rule in effect. Keep in mind, if it was built in 1966 the code in use could have been from the 1950’s.

    Best Wishes,

    Corey Friedman

    Last edited by Corey Friedman; 06-06-2010 at 09:10 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Default Re: egress rule date

    John,

    I generally agree with Cory.

    As a side comment, I believe that there was a period (70's?) when the standard minimum for sill height was 48", which is why you might find a lot of older homes with that sill height. However, the heart of your question seems to lie with your comment,
    "My thing is, people market 4 and 5 br when in reality it's only 3 br. That can make a difference in the value of a home, right?"
    Judging whether the original bedroom windows may have been ok in one time period, but the newer bedroom in the finished basement does not meet current code begs the question of finding out when the basement was finished. Not your job. Old, or newer, you only get into traps when trying to date if some aspects of a home were ok at one time but not at another.

    That is one of the challenges with this business. We do use current codes as a baseline for judgment about when there is a safety issue, even though most homes we inspect were constructed before current codes. It is a struggle sometimes.

    Codes, including egress code, do affect what we do. And it affects the buyer, especially when it involves insurance, and rental properties. Windows is one item that has bit me in the behind before. Several years ago I did an inspection on a house, not knowing that it was intended to be used as rental income property. The buyers tried to sue me to replace all the windows in a house when the property management company they were going to use made a stink about jalousie (louvered) windows. So, I now make it a point to make some mention of non-complaint egress windows, if only to cover my legal butt to avoid law suits.

    But my comment will vary depending on how much of an issue it is, and some common sense. Obviously a basement bedroom that only has a small 1-foot x 2-foot window IS a fire safety hazard. I also emphasize it as more of a safety issue in 1920 homes where all the original single-pane wood frame windows in bedrooms are painted shut. Even if they are the right size, windows need to be functional to allow emergency egress. These situations are treated as a Repair or Safety issue in my report. And, when I write my report, I only label them as bedrooms if they are compliant, otherwise I label them as bonus rooms, and make some comment about the lack of windows that meet current egress standards if the room is to be used as a sleeping area. Same with basement Family Rooms.

    However, a windowsill being 46 inches, but otherwise compliant, will get a comment, but not the same comment as I would in the earlier situation. I pick my battles, and try not to nit-pick every small detail. I think customers appreciate those distinctions.

    And yes, you may run into some guff from Realtors that want to call a non-compliant bonus room a bedroom, because it DOES make a difference in selling price. But that is something you can't worry about. If the buyer wants to use the report in requesting replacement windows, that is their right. Good luck to them negotiating that request. They are usually better off asking for a new roof or heating system.

    Different inspectors will feel different than me. And, it may vary a lot from state to state, or city to city. The state I live in has focused on basement egress windows and window wells as an important issue (they don't chase around after old 1st and 2nd story bedroom windows too much, even in the fire-trap apartments that you find in the university student areas).


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Knowledge of code is helpful. However, you can rest assured that I don't use it explain things to clients. I have never cited code in a report. Common sense is what works for me.


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    My thing is, people market 4 and 5 br when in reality it's only 3 br. That can make a difference in the value of a home, right?
    This is not part of our job. This is what the appraiser is for, they determine the value of the home not the home inspector.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    What year did the 44" minimum window sill to floor measurement come into effect in the IRC?
    1976 in the uniform building code.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    With clients I approach this like the IRC which states "sleeping area" as opposed to bedroom. I let the realtor and appraiser fight over how to classify the space and simply tell them this room is not safe for "sleeping". The realtor sometimes has a difficult time explaining the "non-conforming bedroom" that they can't actually sleep in but, I promise the cleint gets the idea. And, using that approach, I don't have to deal with what year it became effictive.


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    This is not part of our job. This is what the appraiser is for, they determine the value of the home not the home inspector.
    Scott, I'm aware that it's not a home inspectors job to assess the value of a home. What do you say when you're told by your client that the 4th bedroom is the one in the basement? You look in there and see the window sill way higher than 44". What do you tell your client?


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    At least in Oregon, I believe that 46" was the max. allowed sill height in the 60's and 70's. I've measured a lot of windows from that era, and that's about what they are at.

    I just report on what I see, and tell my clients to either make sure occupants can safely escape out of the windows, or upgrade.


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    What do you say when you're told by your client that the 4th bedroom is the one in the basement? You look in there and see the window sill way higher than 44". What do you tell your client?
    If a basement has a bed and lacks a proper egress then it's not a bedroom.


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Comb View Post
    If a basement has a bed and lacks a proper egress then it's not a bedroom.
    Crimeny, that type of thinking would be akin to saying "If a house does not have heat, it is not a house."

    That is thinking totally INCORRECT ... if a basement has a bed ... it IS a "bedroom", regardless what else it has.

    In the above case ("If a basement has a bed and lacks a proper egress then it's not a bedroom.") it IS a "bedroom" which lacks proper EERO.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Crimeny, that type of thinking would be akin to saying "If a house does not have heat, it is not a house."

    That is thinking totally INCORRECT ... if a basement has a bed ... it IS a "bedroom", regardless what else it has.

    In the above case ("If a basement has a bed and lacks a proper egress then it's not a bedroom.") it IS a "bedroom" which lacks proper EERO.
    Jerry, I'm sorry you don't like my thinking. With all due respect, here in Minnesota, if a house does not have a heat source that allows indoor temperature to reach 68 degrees F it does not not meet our minimum code for a residence. It's been code here for a long time. So, I do believe one could make the statement, "no heat = not a house." I'm referring to building code only and not other emotional definitions of house/home.

    As for egress, in Minnesota, a basement bedroom/sleeping room/room with a bed/whatever is required to have an egress. Various means of egress are available, but if that egress is by window the sill must no more than 44" from the floor.

    Here in Minnesota, (most) Realtors will not include basement rooms as bedrooms unless they have proper means of egress.


  18. #18
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    Thumbs up Re: egress rule date

    Regardless what the room is used for, there should be at least one egress in the basement. If it's going to be used as a "sleeping room" then that's where it should be. Even if the owner says "it'll be an office then" doesn't matter. One room in a basement = one egress. Two rooms in a basement = one egress, just that EACH "sleeping room" has to have one. Don't try to over analyse it, go with the current code and stick with it. Let the insurance guys play the "grandfather clause" game. Make the note & you're off the hook.

    Last edited by Byron Brubaker; 06-09-2010 at 12:16 AM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Byron Brubaker View Post
    Regardless what the room is used for, there should be at least one egress in the basement. If it's going to be used as a "sleeping room" then that's where it should be...... go with the current code and stick with it.
    This would not meet the current code, or are you talking about EERO?


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Comb View Post
    Jerry, I'm sorry you don't like my thinking. With all due respect, here in Minnesota, if a house does not have a heat source that allows indoor temperature to reach 68 degrees F it does not not meet our minimum code for a residence.
    Fred,

    EXACTLY MY POINT.

    "it does not not meet our minimum code for a residence"

    Which is a LOT different than 'not making it a house', which was your statement about the bedroom without certain things - if it has a bed, it is a "bedroom". It may "not meet our minimum code for a residence", but it would still be a bedroom.

    It's been code here for a long time.
    That has been the code all over, for a very long time.

    So, I do believe one could make the statement, "no heat = not a house."
    Quite incorrect.

    You were correct the first time when you said "it does not not meet our minimum code for a residence", which means that "the house" needs to be provided with heat, not that it is not a house.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    By definition any room you can enter has a means of egress, the question is does it comply.


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Years ago we had a transient who had built a shack on a sand bar on the Connecticut river, the local authorities tried to move him to no avail for years. Finally someone realized that the Coast Guard had jurisdiction and they were brought in to remove him. My ranting here is just to say, what defines a home?,,not a house.


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bell View Post
    By definition any room you can enter has a means of egress, the question is does it comply.
    Which is why we keep referring to, in various ways, "emergency" egress or "EERO" - to specify that we are not referring to the door you enter the area through.

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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Fred,

    EXACTLY MY POINT.

    "it does not not meet our minimum code for a residence"

    Which is a LOT different than 'not making it a house', which was your statement about the bedroom without certain things - if it has a bed, it is a "bedroom". It may "not meet our minimum code for a residence", but it would still be a bedroom.



    That has been the code all over, for a very long time.



    Quite incorrect.

    You were correct the first time when you said "it does not not meet our minimum code for a residence", which means that "the house" needs to be provided with heat, not that it is not a house.
    Semantics...

    You choose to say a room with a bed is a bedroom even though it lacks proper means of egress.

    I choose to say a room with a bed isn't a bedroom until the room meets the minimum code that enables it to become a bedroom, which includes proper egress.

    I don't use the term "bedroom" to describe a room with a bed in a basement that does not have proper egress. I don't want anyone reading my report thinking the room could be construed as a bedroom.

    You think my point of view is "incorrect", are you sure about that? Perhaps my point of view is different, but that doesn't make it incorrect.

    I fully recognize there is a host of definitions for bedroom, sleeping rooms, houses, etc. But in this forum I'm only concerned with the definition in building codes.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    I have been in a lot of basements, finished or otherwise. If they are not walk out, I have yet to seen one where a person could get out the windows in case of fire. I point this out to people and recommend they fill the house with smoke detectors and tell them to educate everyone in the house to get the hell out when they hear the first beep.


  26. #26
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    Thumbs up Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by chris mcintyre View Post
    This would not meet the current code, or are you talking about EERO?
    EERO def. Anytime there is a finished room, bedroom/sleeping room, office, entertainment, family room or home theatre in the basement there needs to be an escape window or door. Just because it doesn't have a bed doesn't mean it's not a sleeping room. But each room that is used as a sleeping room must have an emergency egress. If there is no sleeping room but there is say, an office, that room has to have emergency egress. Say if there was a family room, office and entertainment room, one of those rooms has to have an emergency egress. If there was a family room, office, entertainment room and bedroom, just the bedroom has to have it. All those rooms and two bedrooms, both bedrooms have to have them.


  27. #27
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    Thumbs up Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Comb View Post
    Semantics...

    You choose to say a room with a bed is a bedroom even though it lacks proper means of egress.

    I choose to say a room with a bed isn't a bedroom until the room meets the minimum code that enables it to become a bedroom, which includes proper egress.

    I don't use the term "bedroom" to describe a room with a bed in a basement that does not have proper egress. I don't want anyone reading my report thinking the room could be construed as a bedroom.

    You think my point of view is "incorrect", are you sure about that? Perhaps my point of view is different, but that doesn't make it incorrect.

    I fully recognize there is a host of definitions for bedroom, sleeping rooms, houses, etc. But in this forum I'm only concerned with the definition in building codes.
    BUT, a room in the basement that has a bed in it IS considered to be a sleeping room and MUST have an emergency exit. So, either way, note it regardless.


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Comb View Post
    Semantics...

    I choose to say a room with a bed isn't a bedroom until the room meets the minimum code that enables it to become a bedroom, which includes proper egress.

    Semantics my a......

    What you are saying is that if a house does not meet code in every way, then ... it is not a house.

    Crimeny., you might as well stop being a "home" inspector as, by that standard, no "homes" exist for you to inspect.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Semantics my a......

    What you are saying is that if a house does not meet code in every way, then ... it is not a house.

    Crimeny., you might as well stop being a "home" inspector as, by that standard, no "homes" exist for you to inspect.
    Oh come on, you know I didn't say that.
    May I remind you of a post you made October 6, 2006, 2:53 PM under the category in the archive entitled "Egress Question" http://www.inspectionnews.com/ubb/Fo...L/000432.html:

    The OP -
    "The house had a lower level with the master suite and Bedroom Two. There are no windows in Bedroom Two at all. The only second means of egress would be through the adjoining bath (Jack and Jill doors into master bedroom) and then out the exterior door that is present in the master bedroom.

    Is this an acceptable means of emergency egress? My instincts tell me no, but I really am not sure.

    ------------------
    Jim Robinson
    Assured Home Serivces, LLC


    Your reply -
    "Jim,

    That's NOT a "bedroom", it's a storage room.

    No windows? Not a bedroom.

    No EERO (emergency escape and rescue opening)? Not a bedroom.

    I would not care who (agents, sellers, builder, etc.) called it a bedroom, *I* WOULD NOT call it a bedroom on my inspection report.

    Personally, and maybe it was just me, but I would explain the problem to my client, then I would call then (yes, on my report) Fry Room 1 (and Fry Room 2 if there were two) and explain that it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that anyone will get out of there alive if there is a fire.

    Always worked for me.

    ------------------
    Jerry Peck
    Ormond Beach
    (i.e., Daytona Beach area)


    We're both going to look like a--es if we continue this much longer. So instead, maybe we should spread the love!

    It doesn't really mater what the room is called as long as the inspector informs the client that a EERO should be present or installed in any area used for sleeping, especially in a basement.


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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Fred,

    Read the highlighted part in bold and red below, I believe you will understand what I said in that post when you read that part ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Comb View Post
    Oh come on, you know I didn't say that.
    May I remind you of a post you made October 6, 2006, 2:53 PM under the category in the archive entitled "Egress Question" http://www.inspectionnews.com/ubb/Fo...L/000432.html:

    The OP -
    "The house had a lower level with the master suite and Bedroom Two. There are no windows in Bedroom Two at all. The only second means of egress would be through the adjoining bath (Jack and Jill doors into master bedroom) and then out the exterior door that is present in the master bedroom.

    Is this an acceptable means of emergency egress? My instincts tell me no, but I really am not sure.

    ------------------
    Jim Robinson
    Assured Home Serivces, LLC


    Your reply -
    "Jim,

    That's NOT a "bedroom", it's a storage room.

    No windows? Not a bedroom.

    No EERO (emergency escape and rescue opening)? Not a bedroom.

    I would not care who (agents, sellers, builder, etc.) called it a bedroom, *I* WOULD NOT call it a bedroom on my inspection report.

    Personally, and maybe it was just me, but I would explain the problem to my client, then I would call then (yes, on my report) Fry Room 1 (and Fry Room 2 if there were two) and explain that it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that anyone will get out of there alive if there is a fire.

    Always worked for me.

    ------------------
    Jerry Peck
    Ormond Beach
    (i.e., Daytona Beach area)


    We're both going to look like a--es if we continue this much longer. So instead, maybe we should spread the love!

    It doesn't really mater what the room is called as long as the inspector informs the client that a EERO should be present or installed in any area used for sleeping, especially in a basement.
    Understand what I said in that post now?

    I said that they are not bedrooms, that they are Fry Rooms. Get it yet?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Post Re: egress rule date

    One could say that, if there is no heat, it is not a habitable dwelling, according law. In some jurisdictions, lack of heat is sufficient grounds for condemnation of a dwelling. That's just the way it is.

    Randy Aldering, RHI CHI
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  32. #32
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Whitmore View Post
    Let me ask this in a better way for John.

    In what year did any national residential building code authority specify the need for a max. sill height of 44" for egress windows?
    My dad was an FHA tract builder in the 50s and 60s. Even then there was a maximum sill height requirement. At least one that FHA enforced. I don't remember what building code(s) were in effect where he was building (several different cities in the southwest), but the FHA inspectors sure checked the bedroom sill heights. I remember watching them do it. It may not have been 44-inches, but a max height requirement is long standing.


  33. #33
    Steve Karr's Avatar
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    The other part of the egress rule, that no one has mentioned, is the 7.5 sq ft open-able area of the window. Usually the windows that are 6 feet off the floor in the basement are also little bitty windows that you couldn't get out of even if they were only 44" off the floor.


  34. #34
    Philip's Avatar
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    15x22, and that includes frames. Usually steel awning. Just do not be down in the basement in case of fire.


  35. #35
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Karr View Post
    The other part of the egress rule, that no one has mentioned, is the 7.5 sq ft open-able area of the window.
    You did mean 5.7, right? Unless it is at grade, then I think it only has to be 5 sq. ft., but I have been wrong before.


  36. #36
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Here's an egress story. The window was OK when the place was built in 2006. Then they added a big deck with a pool. The new foundation wall interferes with the window, so now the widest part is under 14". I called it out as a concern, needs repair. The client laughed it off. So did the realtor. I don't care. It's in the report, and it has been pointed out to the buyer.

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  37. #37
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Here's an egress story. The window was OK when the place was built in 2006. Then they added a big deck with a pool. The new foundation wall interferes with the window, so now the widest part is under 14". I called it out as a concern, needs repair. The client laughed it off. So did the realtor. I don't care. It's in the report, and it has been pointed out to the buyer.
    John,

    Is there a way up and out of that area?

    If not, then steps or a permanently attached ladder would be required.

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  38. #38
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    Default Re: egress rule date

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    John,

    Is there a way up and out of that area?

    If not, then steps or a permanently attached ladder would be required.
    Yes, the alleyway is open to the backyard on the left. It was just a case of a tight squeeze out through that window.

    BTW, the client bought the place, but I never saw that realtor again. Too picky??

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