How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

When were emergency egress windows first required by code?

Saturday, January 1, 2022

The requirement for a means of emergency exit from a bedroom or basement directly to the outside of a home was first required around the 1960’s or so. Here’s how it was stated in the 1973 South Florida Building Code.

We say “around the 1960s” because there were literally dozens of regional building codes around the U.S. in that era, and they each separately adopted their own version of a required opening for an occupant to get directly out of a house in a fire—and also for a fireman to get inside for rescue. The International Residential Code (IRC), which consolidated multiple older codes and now covers most of the country, had the current standard in place when it was first issued in 2000. You can read about it at What is an egress window? 

    Also, the clause in the 1973 SFBC allowing a house with “two doors providing separate means of escape” from the home, as an alternative to an egress window in each bedroom, is long-gone. But many jurisdictions allow older homes that do not have egress windows to replace their windows without complying with the emergency egress specs if compliance would require enlarging the opening in the wall.

    We most often see a violation of this code/safety mandate when a homeowner encloses a carport or screen porch to create more conditioned living area inside the home and, in the process, either eliminates an existi egress window altogether or eliminates its required direct access to the exterior.

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  To learn more about doors and windows, see these other blog posts:

• Why are window security bars dangerous? 

What causes sweating (condensation) on the inside of windows in the winter? 

Is every exterior door of a house required to have a landing outside? 

 What are the small slots at the bottom of the outside of my window? 

Why does condensation form on the outside of some windows and not others in the morning? 

How can I tell if a window or glass door is safety glass? 

What are the code requirements for safety tempered glass for doors?• 

Should a front door swing in or out? 


How many exit doors are required for a house?

 How many exit doors are required for a mobile/manufactured home? 

Are openable windows required to have window screens? Will windows with no screens pass a home inspection? 

Can a bedroom door open into the garage?

What are the building code requirements for a door from the garage to the house?

What is "low-E" window glass? 

What does ANSI 297.1 on glass mean?

Why is a double cylinder deadbolt lock on an exterior door a safety hazard? 

How can I check my garage door to make sure it is safe?  

What is an egress window?

How do you determine if a door is left-handed or right-handed?

What are the common problems you find inspecting windows?

What is causing a foggy haze on my windows? 

What do those numbers on the manufacturer's stickers in new windows mean?

What does a home inspector check on an electric garage door? 

• What is the tempered label on glass at windows and sliding glass doors called?

Why is pressure washing double pane windows an expensive mistake? 

How can I tell if a window or sliding glass door is double or triple pane (insulated) glass?

• Do I need to have two exterior exit doors in my house? 

• When is safety glass required for windows at stairs and stair landings?

   Visit our DOORS AND WINDOWS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.    

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