Did you know that the size of a window opening is based on getting firefighters or other emergency escape and rescuers into or out of a house, with their equipment?
In California egress is now often referred to as “Emergency Escape and Rescue Openings”, in cases of a fire or other hazards. And it is most applicable to bedrooms and basement areas. The building codes require a minimum of 20“ wide by 24“ high and a minimum of 5.7 ft.² for emergency and escape rescue openings.
For our Westgate house, the City wouldn’t allow us to have the bedroom egress at the front of the house because of the light well. We would have had to add a stair or a ladder to get out of the light well, and the planning department wouldn’t approve it. This was fine with our clients because safety was important to them, and having the opening at the front of the house didn’t make them feel secure. The required egress was installed on the side of the house.
Egress has a lot of impact on home remodels, especially if the windows are changed along the way (with or without complying to code), and it’s an historic building like the Westgate house.