An egress window code is a requirement intended to ensure a person can escape a building through a window in an emergency. Most codes also require the windows to be large enough for a firefighter with his pack on to enter through them. The term "egress" simply means a direct method of leaving a building, and an egress window code requires each bedroom in a home to have a direct exit available in the event of a fire or other emergency.
Egress codes often are regulated locally, so there may be differences in the specific requirements for escape routes. In general, though, an egress window code requires a window for each bedroom in a home, as well as one in the basement, if it contains livable space. If there are individual bedrooms in the basement, a separate egress window is required for each.
According to the code, egress windows should be a minimum of 20 inches wide, at least 24 inches high, and have a minimum net clearing opening of 5.7 square feet for anything except a ground-level bedroom. The clearing opening is lowered to 5 square feet for a ground-floor bedroom because a ladder isn't needed to escape. The sills on egress windows can be no higher than 44 inches from the floor.
For basement egress windows, there are also codes that regulate the sizes of the window wells, which is the area surrounding the window on the home's exterior. The wells must provide 9 square feet of floor space and be a minimum of 36 inches in width and height. A well taller than 44 inches must include steps or a ladder that is permanently attached. The ladders are required to be at least 12 inches wide and not extend more than 3 inches above the window well.
Egress window codes were created to provide a safe means of escape from a building, so anything that could hamper that is prohibited. Bars, screens, and grates on an egress window must be easy to open and remove without the use of tools. Any type of window may be used as an egress, but it must provide an opening of at least 22.5 inches wide and 36.5 inches tall.
Most new homes are built to comply with the code recommendations, though homebuyers may want to perform a quick check with the local codes enforcement department for specific details about local regulations. Older homes that were built prior to the adoption of the code regulations may not meet the code requirements, although in those cases, an egress window code will typically not be enforced unless the home is renovated. Colorado Window Source will do its due diligence to ensure your project will meet all codes. As each jurisdiction polices each area differently we will ensure it follows and passes each of their guidelines.