If you are building a new home or renovating your current one, you may be wondering if you need to install egress windows.
This is a more common question than ever before. Increasing numbers of municipalities are requiring egress windows in new residential construction. This leaves many homeowners unsure about how to be in compliance with building codes.
It also creates questions about how homeowners can implement egress windows when necessary without disrupting their architectural designs. Because they are a new topic for many homeowners, they often seem more perplexing than they really are. Some homeowners ask why and whether they really need them at all.
It is definitely in your best interest to have the best egress windows in your home. That makes it extremely beneficial that you know what egress windows are, how they work, and why you should have them. It also pays to know how easily they can fit into the existing architectural plans for your construction or renovation.
If you are looking for a simple intro to egress windows and explanation for why you need them in your home, we have you covered. Adding egress windows is simple and there is no need to upend your design choices. However, the benefits you gain from taking the time to learn about and install egress windows can improve your property investment — and your family’s safety.
What Are Egress Windows?
Put simply, egress windows are escape routes designed for use during emergencies. They are necessary in municipalities that require them in their building codes. Building codes typically dictate that they must be in every room in a residence where people might sleep. This includes finished basements and attics.
Egress windows are typically identical with normal windows in terms of material, casement, sliding, etc. They simply need to meet minimum size specifications so that they can be easily and safely used as emergency exits. This lets them serve as alternative routes of escape in case normal exits are unsafe or blocked.
Egress windows are designed to be convenient exit points in emergencies like fires, medical situations, and home invasions. New residential construction requires them to give escape options in any bedrooms and rooms that may even occasionally be used for sleeping. Windows can be in most shapes and styles as long as they meet minimum size regulations. Minimum size requirements are different in each locale, but, generally, your windows need to have 5.7 square feet of net clear opening area. Windows that are at-grade floor or below grade are exceptions since they usually only need 5 square feet.
Windows also need 24 inches of net clear height opening with a net clear width opening of at least 20 inches. You can technically use either windows or doors to meet egress regulations. However, when using windows, your windowsills cannot be more than 44 inches above your finished floor to enable easy access.
Why Do I Need Egress Windows for My Home?
Egress windows are vital in many emergency situations. When life-threatening situations arise, they give you and your family a way out of dangerous circumstances. You do not need one in every room, but the more you have the better off you are. You should place them in every bedroom and guest room so everyone in your family has an emergency exit.
Egress windows are increasingly required by regulations, so you may have to install them the next time you update your existing windows. Check the requirements in your local area to see what regulations apply to your situation. You can ask your local building code enforcement office. If you do not do this before any home construction or renovation projects, you can create far more construction (and potentially legal) costs in the future.
The most important reason to install the best egress windows in your home is to improve your and your family’s safety. Preparing your home in case of emergencies is just as important as preparing yourselves. Safe building design is an essential aspect of protecting the lives and health of everyone who stays in your home.
Without emergency routes, occupants could be unable to quickly and safely exit your home in a life-threatening scenario. This reason is usually what convinces most homeowners to install the best windows they find. Even if you hope you never need to use them, having them is a form of insurance against disaster.
How to Integrate and Install Egress Windows
Installations are a little different in each area because local regulations might require more or less opening space, diameter, etc. However, the majority of relevant building codes are based on the International Residential Code even though there is no requirement to follow it. Usually, the IRC is seen as a minimum standard. Some municipalities require more space for them than the IRC does. So, the first place to start with seeing whether your windows will work for egress use is whether they meet the minimum standards of the IRC. Every room in your home should be equipped with a window that meets IRC recommendations. While you will not know for sure whether your windows meet the proper requirements until checking your local code, the IRC is a safe rule of thumb for most.
Discuss installation with your contractor, architect, and interior designer. These professionals have all worked with them before and can help you easily integrate them into your architectural vision. Plus, they can help you make sure you install windows that meet location, size, and spatial requirements. Contractors, home renovators, and other home repair or construction professionals should be familiar with local residential codes and follow them to the letter.Paragraph
Once you have figured out your size, location, and spatial specifications, all you need to do is pick out the windows you like. Ensure you pick the best egress window to serve as egresses so that your windows will operate safely and efficiently for many years to come.