If you are an architect or engineer, the following will make perfect sense to you: the 2012 International Code requirements are currently being instated. For the rest of us, what that means is that permit requirements may be changing for your renovation. Notice that I say “may”. That is because which edition of the code is being used varies depending on where you live. Your city may be using the 2006 requirements while the next town over may be using the 2009 edition, and the county (in a nearby unincorporated area) may be using the newest version. Confused yet?
Let’s simplify a bit. If you are replacing windows and doors, or adding a skylight in your home, there are certain requirements that have to be met in order to qualify for a building permit. Those will vary depending on which edition of the code your location is using, but let me give you some basics that won’t change much.
First, if you are replacing windows in a bedroom, they must meet minimum egress requirements. That means that, when a window is opened, it must meet a certain size, specifically a minimum of 24” in height (regardless of width), and an overall 5.7 square feet of clear opening, without removing a sash. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the math, just make sure your contractor addresses egress requirements for any bedroom windows. These requirements may impact whether you can replace an existing casement window with a double hung, for instance.
Another requirement to be aware of is safety glazing – in other words, when you must use tempered glass or other materials that meet specific safety standards. This includes any door with full view glass (such as a storm door or patio door), or any opening near certain locations, such as a swimming pool or bathtub, or any window that is below a minimum height above the floor. Again, these requirements may vary from version to version of the code being used, so make sure you address the current codes with your contractor. Better still, contact your local building department to get a copy of all code requirements that will apply to your project, and share it with your contractor so that you are assured that the products you are being quoted are appropriate for your needs, and make sure any contract meets existing codes. The last thing you want is for your project to fail final inspection because of an oversight!
These are only a couple of the codes that could apply to your home improvement project, so, the better you can educate yourself before beginning a renovation, the more smoothly it will go!
Happy remodeling – Rae the Renovator