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Egress Window?

I'm trying to find information on a particular style of window.

City Codes & Compliance down here in VA has told me that since I'm subdividing an existing area into 2 bedrooms, each bedroom must have an "Egress" window. Meaning a window that will open to an unobstructed 5.5sf opening for folks to climb out of.

The Problem is, this min. S.F. is the SIZE of the Existing window!

I could Swear at some point on the show I saw a Double hung window, that also had a hinge along one side that allowed the Entire window to swing out in case of emergencies.

I Know there are Casement windows that will swing open like this, but I'd like to find something with a Double/single shash that will fit the existing size and still open.

Is there anyone who knows what I'm talking about? And can point me to the right thing?

Re: Egress Window?

I've got nuttin' on that window though the design sounds potentially ingenious if you can find it.

My thinking is to subdivide that room into an "office" instead of a bedroom and not worry about the egress.

Also, most double hung windows these days allow you to remove the sashes quite easily. Will that get you to 5.5'square?

One option I considered for my attic (roof access), is a simple fixed window, fit tightly in place with a foam "gasket" to seal out air, but not screwed or nailed into place. Then attach two handles and voila' you have a removable window for an emergency.


Re: Egress Window?

Perhaps the area required differs in your area between new construction and modification/upgrade. 5.7 sq.ft. is required here and strict height of the sill restrictions.

That may be since the 5.7 sq ft is definately the size for window egress in living spaces that occupy 2 nd and 3 rd , etc. levels. Where egress window size may be 5.5 sq ft on ground level living spaces with a sill height restriction of 44 inches.

Of course that all depends on local codes.

If I recall 5.5 sq ft was calculated to be the minimum size of opening required for a fireman wearing an air tank on their back to enter through.

The reason for the 5.7 sq ft for higher elevation window sizes is to accomodate the space for a ladder the fireman would be using to enter.

Re: Egress Window?

Code officials won't usually fall for the "office" gambit if it's obvious the room is likely to be used as a bedroom.

Re: Egress Window?

I have never seen a double hung egress window. I have seen simulated double hung egress windows. They just have a wide mutton across the center to make them look like double hung.

Re: Egress Window?
asc2078 wrote:

With all due respect, that is a terribly unsafe suggestion. Having a room of this type without a window that one can climb out of in case of a fire or other disaster could result in the unnecessary death of an occupant. Trying to avoid code requirements by changing what you call something is unwise. Only a slum-lord or a dishonest, hack-contractor, would try to save money or circumvent safety codes at the risk of someone's life.

Please explain exactly how much more dangerous having a window that is slightly less than 5.5 is? This won't preclude any but the largest folks. In point of fact, the only issue would be someone big with equipment getting in. That is exceedingly rare occurence, especially with modern smoke detectors and the like. You're talking something like a 1 in 10,000,000 chance of a serious problem in this context.

So, what we have here, is ample egress with only modest noncompliance. The practical risk approaches nil. This is a pre-existing window opening, too.

I'm all for 100% code compliance especially for safety issues, when within the boundaries of practicality and reason. If it's a frame home, I suppose one can pretty readily and for only modest cost reframe the window. In, say, an historic brick building...I'm not even sure it's moral to break up the window to add such a modest amount of space for what strikes me as an extremely small chance of enhanced safety.

I would say that only a person who is a slave to petty rules would accuse one of a callous disregard for safety in this context.

With all due respect.

I note that I gave two other possible options too--three if you consider not using the extra space as a bedroom in an attempt to comply with code.

And, as an aside, if this window is for conversion into a rental unit, find a way to comply. Period. The risks and responsibilities climb to high with rentals. You HAVE to assume the worst and statistically, the odds of a fire in a rental are already much higher anyway. And the liability is huge.

Re: Egress Window?

There are many double hung windows that meet the egress requirements. look in the catalogs & they are usually indicated when they meet the requirement. They may not fit your existing opening. Like Canuk said the code requirement grew out of the ability of firefighters to get in & out of the window with their tanks & gear on. Modifications will have to be made or some sort of custom window may be needed.
This is one code issue all inspectors know & won't usually let slide.
I guess I didn't add anything new other than my 2 cents. :)

Re: Egress Window?
RehabOrDie wrote:

So, what we have here, is ample egress with only modest noncompliance. The practical risk approaches nil. This is a pre-existing window opening, too.

So one has to ask at what point do you draw the line in compliance with safety standards? Within 1%,10%,20%, 30% or should we just do away with minimum standards?

Re: Egress Window?

Well, Jack, why not increase the minimum standards?

Why not spend every last cent and every last minute to make sure that nothing bad happens ever...again.

My point was and still is that slavish compliance to every standard regardless of cost benefit is not only foolish, but possibly immoral. It's not an unquestionable good.

Sure, standards exist for a reason and the default should be to adhere to them, particularly if one's not willing or able to think. (I've found myself in that latter spot before occasionally, and I appreciate the standards as such).

But if one's not willing to think, it certainly doesn't give one license or special moral authority to judge.

I'm just sayin'.

Take away: comply with safety standards to every reasonable degree possible--heck exceed them--I know I do, but don't be an automaton to bureaucracy. Bureaucracy exists for its own benefit not yours. Compliance is not a moral virtue per se.

Re: Egress Window?

Apologies for the libertarian anti-authoritarian rant last night.

There are philosophical points and then there's practical reality.

In my experience doing rehab thus far, and as a practical matter, folks ought to do a lot less "thinking for themselves" and a lot more complying with code.

The things I've found that DIY'ers and landlords have done to properties astound the sensibilities. Non-compliant fixes live long and folks who come after you could well be cursing your memory.

Re: Egress Window?

I guess my reaction was that you ignored the fact that there IS egress. It's just that with a standard window it might be a couple square inches shy.

There's a big difference between that and NO egress. One is irresponsible, the other is a de facto non-event. You're implication was of criminal irresponsibility, and anyone would take umbrage at that.

BUT as I got defending the flip answer, it just struck me as going the wrong direction. My life is made worse by tons of non-compliant repairs made by generations of prior owners. None of the compliant repairs were troublesome.

Most of the time, even if code doesn't seem sane or smart, it turns out to be a good long-term idea. Debating the point is sort of like being philosophically penny-wise and pound foolish. What type of a world do I want to live in, one where jake-legs consider code compliance optional or one where the job gets done right or with overkill.

The answer for me is the latter.

So, while your response grinds my fanny still, on the big picture I gotta side strongly with you. My position is not worth defending. It was flip and cynical and inconsistent with my values.



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