Clera Windows + Doors Blog

Everything You Need to Know About Egress Windows

It is an unfortunate truth that many builders and window companies do not provide proper information on current egress window regulations, which is not only unlawful but also deadly.

In order to ensure that you are equipped with a full understanding of what egress windows in Toronto are and all the regulations that they come with, we’ve compiled a guide to help give you a basic starting point.

What Are Egress Windows?

While smoke detectors will alert you to any unexpected fires, what happens when you and your family don’t have a clear path out of the house? The base idea behind egress windows in Toronto is that they provide homeowners with additional exits in the instance of an emergency. This is especially true for any basements or upstairs windows, where finding an exit can be a lot more difficult.

It’s possible that if you live in an older, pre-owned home that your bedroom windows are no longer up to regulation requirements. Newer homes might also lack proper egress windows, which can be extremely unsafe. The next section covers what regulation requirements your egress windows in Toronto must meet.

Close up of a basement egress window in Toronto

What Are the Requirements of Egress Windows?

The National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) is what sets the standards for egress windows, determining what regulatory requirements they must meet during manufacturing and installation. These regulations dictate their minimum height, width and net clear opening area requirements, as well as their maximum distance from the floor. They must be at least 24 inches tall, 20 inches wide and have a net clearance of 5.7 square feet. In other words, it needs to be large enough for a person to crawl through.

Types of Egress Windows

There are a variety of common types of egress windows in Toronto that have been used to newly built or remodelled homes that you can have installed too. It does not matter what type of egress window is used, so long as it meets the necessary requirements as dictated by the NBCC. Here are the three most common:

Double Hung Windows

Double hung windows are a common egress window style found in both new and old homes. They consist of two overlapping sashes across the horizontal middle, with the bottom half opening upwards. There are some cases where a double hung window will open from top to bottom, although this is not as common. To meet regulatory requirements, double hung windows must be at least 24 inches tall and 34 inches wide.

Sliding Windows

This style of egress windows that open from side to side, rather than up and down, acting similarly to a sliding door. As egress windows must be able to open at least 20 inches in width, they would need to be a minimum of 40 inches wide. They would also need to be at least 41 inches tall.

Casement Windows

The final style of egress windows is casement windows. These windows open in or out, much like a door on a hinge. They can either be opened by a handle or with a rotating lever. Since the entirety of a casement window can open, they can be smaller and still meet the minimum sizing requirements.

When Should You Get Egress Windows?

There are a couple of instances where you should have egress windows in Toronto installed to not only protect you and your family but to also meet regulatory requirements.

In newer home builds, every room that is used for sleeping must have at least one egress window that is up to code. This can sometimes be tricky to manage, especially if rooms that were not originally intended as bedrooms find themselves transformed into them years after being built. For instance, a family room in a basement does not require an egress window. But if that space eventually becomes your teenaged son’s bedroom, it will then require an egress window by law.

If a room in your home even as a remote possibility of becoming a bedroom, it’s best practice to have an egress window installed from the beginning. If not, you can still have egress windows installed at a later date, but they may require some slight remodelling.

Bedroom with an egress window above the bed

How Do I Convert My Standard Basement Windows to Egress Windows?

Basement egress windows present their own set of challenges. In addition to the specific size requirements we previously mentioned, they also require a window well to surround it. Window wells come with their own set of requirements. This list includes:

  • Enough space for the window to be fully opened
  • 9 square feet of floor space, with minimum dimensions of 36 inches by 36 inches
  • A ladder that is permanently attached to the side of the well if it is deeper than 44 inches
  • The ladder cannot be more than 12 inches wide and project no more than 3 inches from the well’s wall
  • You do not need to install a ladder if the window well is built from timbers or modular concrete blocks

How Much Do Egress Windows Cost?

The cost of egress windows varies greatly. Typically, a homeowner can expect to spend about $2,000 on average. The lowest cost reported was $400 and the highest was $4,900. With all that being said, the biggest variants that will factor into how much an egress window costs will depend on if custom excavation is needed and how many windows are being installed.

To find out more about how much egress windows in Toronto will cost you, contact Clera Windows & Doors today!

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