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We all take it for granted that each bedroom will have a window. Few understand the reasons and requirements for windows in bedrooms. Natural light and ventilation, mandatory in current building standards, is easily accommodated with a window. Equally as important, a bedroom must have a second means of escape in the event of an emergency. This standard is most often met with the installation of a window. Specific dimensions of the window opening exist to not only ensure that the occupant can escape, but also to allow a firefighter with his equipment on to enter.

Some older homes were built before there were any egress window requirements. Many more homes were built when the egress window net free opening size was much smaller. Yet even newer homes often lack proper egress windows. Some interior spaces were changed into family rooms or offices (which didn’t require egress windows) then later converted into bedrooms (which now do require them).

The following is a summary of current bedroom egress window requirements:

  • Must be a minimum of 20″ wide and 24″ high.
  • Must have at least 5.7 sq.ft. (821 minimum clear opening.
  • Window sill must be no higher than 44″ from the finished floor.
  • Security bars, if present, must have approved quick release hardware and not require any tools or keys to operate them.

Minimum sizes to meet the bedroom egress requirement of common window styles in this region:

  • Horizontal sliding windows must be at least 48″ square in overall rough opening dimension to provide a 20.5″x42″ net opening.
  • Single hung (vertical sliding) windows must be at least 37″x57″ in overall rough dimension to provide a 34″x24.5″ net opening.
  • Casement (crank style) windows must be at least 29″x42″ in overall rough dimension to provide a 22.5″x36.5″ net opening.

A good Arizona home inspector will point out non-compliant egress window situations. Explaining this information to a buyer can be challenging. Think of it this way; if you buy a classic car you do so knowing it does not have airbags. It would be unreasonable to expect the seller to install airbags in the classic car. Similarly, if upgrades are desired, it would normally be the responsibility of the buyer to make any changes.

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