Many Californians try to DIY window installation to save on labor and avoid getting ripped off by an unscrupulous contractor. Although you might be allowed to apply for your permit and skip professional window replacement services in San Diego, San Jose, Chula Vista, National City, or any other community altogether, it does not mean you should do it.
One of the reasons why you are probably not right for the job is your lack of understanding and appreciation for egress windows. If all that you know about them is that they serve as a built-in escape route in case of an emergency, then you should not even attempt to commence construction. Egress windows are more complicated than that, and most DIYers learn this the hard way.
Size Is Not Everything
A good egress window is big enough for an average firefighter or police officer in uniform to pass through. Its size matters. While this notion is true, misinterpreting the height and width requirements set in place by the local fire code is dangerous.
What the authorities describe when they finalize the dimensions of an egress window is the net-clear opening, not the frame dimensions. In other words, a big unit can still not qualify for this application if it does not provide sufficient passage space.
The best windows for egress are casement units, but they are the only acceptable kind. Double-hung and sliding windows can also be used provided that they are large enough to make up for their limited net-clear opening.
Basements Do Not Always Need an Egress Window
Egress windows are required in almost every room. The only places where they might be not be needed are those used just for storage. An unfinished basement is a good example.
If you below-ground space is finished, though, it does not automatically need an egress window. This non-requirement is true if you have no bed in it.
But then again, nobody is going to fault you for installing one to err on the side of caution. If someone in your family hangs out in it, it should have a convenient exit.
Older Houses Are Not Exempted from the Rules
Some decades-old properties lack enough egress windows because the building regulations were different when they were constructed. However, the age of your house is not an excuse for it not to have code-compliant windows.
If you are tackling a window replacement, some of your wall openings might need to be re-sized to accommodate bigger new units for egress and ingress.
Skylights Can Be Used for Egress
Most homeowners do not try to use the roof to get out when they must leave the house, but it is not an entirely bad idea. Skylights can pass as egress windows in upstairs rooms as long as they are no higher than 44 inches from the floor and open fully.
The Golden State requires window contractors to obtain a license to ply their trade. This fact alone is an indication that you should try to be the hero. Leave the job to a qualified crew to comply with the fire code and help ensure your family’s safety during life-and-death situations.