The Evolution of Egress Windows

Picture of Egress Window in Basement

Most of us as homeowners take for granted the building codes that dictate the design and determine what is included in our homes. Something as mundane as windows has several regulations that require how and where they are installed. The history of these requirements are very interesting.

Did you know that what is typically called egress windows are a fairly new requirement for homes and other structures? The regulations, codes, and even language used to determine what qualifies as an egress window has evolved over a relatively short history.

Egress Window Codes Are Less Than 100 Hundred Years Old

According to expert Don Hester, a licensed home inspector in the state of Washington, the specific requirement for a window that allows a quick exit first popped up in the Uniform Building Code (UBC) in 1964. Aside from his formal training and education as a home inspector, Don spends countless hours poring over the history of building codes, regulations, requirements, and standard practices.

The original UBC differentiated between a simple dwelling and a dwelling unit. Essentially, a dwelling is any structure built for living purposes. So, congratulations, if you are reading this article, you live in a dwelling. Exciting, right? A dwelling unit, however, includes the language of sleeping, cooking, and eating as well.

The Original Size of Exit Windows Were Deemed Too Small

One section of the 1964 UBC includes regulations regarding windows for the use of exiting the structure being built. Windows were required to provide an openable escape area of at least five square feet. In 1976, that area was enlarged to 5.7 square feet to allow for more room in case of first responders needing to enter a structure through the window and required them to be openable by hand without the use of tools.

In the year 2000, the first edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) was published. The IRC included the language of basements when it comes to providing for an emergency exit from the space. This most recent code reference is what dictates how egress windows are installed today. Interestingly, the language of egress windows continues to be the most prevalent terminology even though the term is only present in the 1976 UBC.

There are no records, however, that show the number of lives saved because of the codes, regulations, and requirements regarding egress windows over the years. When you need to install, repair, or replace egress windows in your home, an experienced installer like Tom’s Basement Waterproofing can provide the right windows for you.

Call Tom’s Basement Waterproofing at (586) 776-7270 or use our online contact form to request more information on the many benefits of egress windows.