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    Walkout Basement

    Walkout Basement

    New postby DHoffman on Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:43 pm

    I am trying to get a rental license for my sister-in-laws property (formally Grandma's house). The Inspector said our egress window does not conform. Thing is the Studio type apartment in the basement has 3 egress windows and a door that walks right out to the back yard. Except for the bathroom and laundry/utility, everything is only separated by doorways. The window in what has been used as a sleeping area is not less than 44 inches above the floor, and I understand that is what he has a problem with; but since all the rooms are open to each other why would he not be considering the other two windows or the door to the outside? Also, have you ever heard of them forcing you to put a door on a sleeping area? Any thoughts are appreciated.
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    Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:02 pm

    Re: Walkout Basement

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Mon Aug 24, 2009 7:49 pm

    The window should be 44 inches or less above the floor to the bottom of the opening when the window is opened, that is what the inspector is referring to.

    The window should also be not less than 20 inches wide when opened and not less than 24 inches high when opened ... AND ... the opening must not be less than 5.0 square feet in size - which means a minimum width by minimum height window is not large enough. The windows width, height and opening size may matter when you address the problem, so I recommend checking those sizes while you are addressing the window.

    A window in another room, other than the sleeping room, does not count for the EERO (Emergency Escape and Rescue Opening) for the sleeping room as EVERY sleeping room is required to have its own EERO.

    Simply put, that means the windows and doors in the other rooms do not count.

    Regarding the door, there is no requirement in the IRC (International Residential Code) for doors at bedrooms (sleeping rooms), however, there is no definition for sleeping rooms in the code either, thus the local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) has final say.

    Keep in mind, though, that it would be hard to call it a bedroom with no door as a bedroom (sleeping room) should have privacy - which the door would provide. Quite likely, if you do not have a door you cannot call that a bedroom, and if you do not call that a bedroom then you cannot rent it out or use it as having a bedroom.

    Keep in mind that you will need smoke detectors in that room also.

    One very important thing to consider is this: ANY "safety" related or suspect issue which is present, whether or not the inspector addressed it with code (and whether or not code even applies), could leave your sister-in-law and her family is a very precarious position should ANYTHING happen to the occupants of that basement apartment. You would not want the occupants survivors to take over ownership of your sister-in-law's house through a legal action arising from something happening - whatever that may be.

    You WANT to meet and EXCEED the minimum code requirements, you WANT to be able to show and prove that you went beyond code in providing a safe place to rent out. Courts may look at "code required minimums" but juries tend to look at what you "should have done" and that it is now "your fault" that someone was injured or died.

    I understand that it may not be convenient or inexpensive to lower the window sill (remove the window, dig the earth out around it, install a new properly sized window and a new proper window well for EERO requirements), but NOT DOING SO could lead to disastrous results.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan

    Construction and Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC.
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