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Egress Window Requirements Explained

As homeowners begin shopping for replacement windows, one thing they may discover (especially if they live in a home built previously to 1988) is that they may have windows that fall under Egress Window Requirements.


So what is the purpose of egress window requirements, anyway?rbw-winterset-indianola-house-fire

Egress window requirements are in place to help reduce the risk of someone getting trapped in a bedroom while their home is on fire, and being trapped an unable to escape. The spirit of the code is to make sure that a someone who was sleeping in a bedroom can get out in the event of a fire.

So egress window requirements only apply to bedrooms. I believe the reasoning behind this is that if you are awake and working in the kitchen, for example, you will be able to react quickly and will have multiple exits in which to escape. Whereas if you are in a bedroom and are woken up by a fire, you’re only hope may be an egress window. And if that bedroom window is so small or high up that you cannot use it to escape….well you get the idea.


The code behind egress window requirements

There are minimum standards set forth in California Building Code that detail what the minimum requirements for an egress window are.

Cities have the ability to make the code more stringent, but they must follow the minimum requirements set by the state.

It has been my experience that most local cities just stick with the state guidelines. But nevertheless, you need to have a conversation with your city’s building and safety department to make sure you are in compliance.

If you are adding on a structure, completely rebuilding a structure (for instance, a rebuild after a fire) or building a completely new home, then you will absolutely have to comply with egress window requirements.

However if you are retrofitting new replacement windows into an existing opening, then some cities will “grandfather” you in to the code that existed when your home was built, and not require you to change the opening to meet egress window requirements as long as you are replacing the window with one that operates the same way as the old one.

The bottom line, call us today 818.330.6664 and find out your code! This simple step can save you a fortune, as the city can make you pull out a brand-new window and install an egress window if you are not in compliance with code.


In dwelling units, where the opening of an operable window is located more than 72” above the finished grade or surface below, the lowest part of the clear opening of the window shall be a minimum 24” above the finished floor of the room in which the window is located. Operable sections of windows shall not permit openings that allow passage of a 4 inch diameter where such opening are located within 24” of the finished floor. Where such window openings do not comply, window fall prevention devices and window guards that comply with ASTM F 2090, shall be provided.

Egress Window Requirements

Basically, there are four dimensions that the window will need to comply with in order to meet egress window requirements.Egress-300x213

  • Minimum net clear openable area of 5.7 square feet.
  • Minimum net clear openable height of 24″
  • Minimum net clear openable width of 20″
  • Finished sill height not more than 44″ above the floor

Keep in mind that ALL of these conditions must be met. For example, a window with an openable height of 24″ and an openable

width of 20″ will not meet egress window requirements, as it does not met the net area of 5.7 square feet requirement.

To calculate square footage, just follow this simple formula: (width in inches x height in inches / 144). This will give you square footage.

So in our example, 20*24 / 144 = 3.33 square feet. That’s not good!

It’s easy to be compliant with egress. Just know the code, call us, and make sure you do the job right the first time!