Egress Window Building Codes For Northern Virginia
Egress window code based on the 2015 International Residential Building Code. The code that is followed in Northern Virginia Counties is version 2015 Virginia Uniform State Building Code (USBC), so there have been changes from the original codes when Fairfax County first implemented requiring basements to have an egress window. From the beginning and egress window sill shall not be more than 44 inches from the floor. At Fairfax Contractor we will always cut the window at 43 inches. The reason for this is that some building inspectors consider the vinyl frame of the actual egress as the sill, though this is incorrect, there have been failed inspections because of this issue. We now cut our egress Windows at 43 inches from the floor, so we don’t run into this problem. The area of the window needs to be 5.7 sq. ft. Now if you are using a double-hung window for your egress window, you really need a large window and it must be at least 34 inches wide. The normal size of a hopper window in a basement is typically 32 inches wide by 19 inches tall. So if you’re going to install a double-hung window for egress, you need to include the cost of reconstructing the header to achieve this 34-inch wide opening requirement. If you install a casement window the requirement becomes a net 20 inches clear opening. With this in mind, then it is no longer necessary to rebuild the header of the window, to accommodate a larger window. If your egress window is at grade, then the code changes to a minimum requirement of 5.7 sq. ft. of net opening and is often referred to as a clear opening. The UBC 2012 and states that emergency escape Windows shall be operational from inside a basement room without the use of a key or other types of special tools. One other note is the fact that the window used must meet the minimum requirement U-value of .32 or less. Fairfax Contractor currently utilizes a thermal vinyl replacement window that is custom built to meet this requirement. If our clients want to use a special brand window, it must be checked to see that the energy efficiency rating on that window complies with the current building codes. If your egress window is below grade. You will have to build a window well with a minimum 3’ x 3’ landing, which equates to the code of 9 sq. ft. This will require a building permit, if the finish depth, of your window, well is more than 2 feet. In Fairfax County, we can use either the Fairfax County Retaining Wall Detail or employ a licensed civil engineer to draw up custom plans for the retaining wall section of the egress window. To obtain the permit to actually construct the window well, the plans must be stamped by a Virginia state licensed engineer, and the county's engineer will review the details of the retaining wall plans. Window wells that are deeper than 44 inches will require an escape ladder and it can be constructed of steel or pressure-treated lumber. For these escape ladders to meet current building codes, the rungs of the latter must not exceed 12 inches in height. One must also note that an egress window needs to have a clearance after the window well of 36 inches, and this includes decks or other structures, so this needs to be taken into consideration when building an egress window. We typically build all egress windows with CMU cinder block, though there are kits, which are prefabricated. If you elect to utilize a prefabricated egress window well, you should be advised that we have witnessed these units fail with catastrophic results. Though they are allowed in Fairfax County the manufacturer's specifications must be included in the submission of the plans for permitting purposes. Grates, bars, metal screens, Plexiglas covers are permitted to be installed over an egress window well. But common sense must be given. So these covers are not too heavy, so a small child can easily remove the cover to escape a disaster. These requirements are in the 2012 IRC ( International Residential Building Code), and they clearly state that all bedrooms or sleeping rooms must be equipped with an egress window, and there are no exceptions for the age of the home. It must be noted that an egress window installed in a bedroom will suffice for the entire basement excluding additional bedrooms. This being said, you get the double advantage of an increase in the value of your home because you have an extra bedroom and you now meet the requirement for an egress window to make your basement code compliant. If you have additional bedrooms in your basement, each will require an egress window. So in closing, if you live in Northern Virginia let’s review some common scenarios and you may have a at your current home. This guide she’ll help you to determine if you should search out a contractor to install a code-compliant egress window. Let’s review some basement layouts and see what the requirements are. The 1st situation is a basement that has an Egress walkout but has no bedroom in the basement. You will not need to install an egress window. Example 2: You have purchased a home and plan to put a bedroom in the basement and want to remodel. You must at a minimum install an egress window in the sleeping room or bedroom to make this a legal basement. Example 3: You have more than 1 bedroom. You will need to install at minimum, an egress window in each bedroom for it to be considered legal sleeping quarters. Example 4: Your home has no egress walkout, no bedroom, and you want to remodel the basement. You will need to have an egress window installed. Listed below are a few examples of what most Northern Virginia counties are looking for when remodeling your basement and installing an egress window.