Egress window

A mock home I inspected for Egress windows did not meet code. Sizes were 17 inches tall and 24 inches wide and under 44 inches from the floor, with one window 21 inches tall 31 inches wide but 51 inches from the floor. How do you write this one up? As a licensed builder for the state of Michigan I do know that sometimes homes are grandfathered in the code. Would this be the case here? If so, would I only report that the window that is 51 inches off the floor should have a permanent ladder attached to the wall so the room would meet code and could be considered a bedroom? Also I am using the Michigan code book 2009 which is IRC, is this the newest code book? Thanks for your time.

In some jurisdiction’s if you have 2 exits (2 stairways) then an egress window is not needed. The window is for the bedroom natural light. State of Wisconsin says
Basements and ground floors used for sleeping should be provided with at least 2 exits. The exits should be located as far apart as practical. The exits may not be accessed from the same ramp or stairway the second exit from a basement or ground floor used for sleeping shall be one of the following types: 1. A door to the exterior of the dwelling. 2. A stairway or ramp that leads to the floor above. 3. A stairway that leads to a garage provided the garage has an exit door other than the overhead door. 4. An egress window that complies with local codes is located in each bedroom.

My bolded above: write it up as a potential safety hazard and refer it out to a qualified professional for corrections as needed for safe ingress AND egress. (Fireman need to get in with their air packs on to help other to get out.)

My underlined above: The 2015 book is available here:,4601,7-154-72600_72602_72731_72862-365036--,00.html

Thanks for the Reply Guys. I’ve watched The Egress video and I thought they might talk more about the sizes of the one story and two story windows but the video seemed to concentrate more on the basement Egress. A little disappointed. I also talked to a Family Realtor and they said window issues rarely come up in the Summary Report, Interesting. I also asked how the Realtor determines if a room in the Basement could be used as a bedroom and they said, if there is a good size window in the room or a door leading to the outside from the basement. So there you have it.

Most state have adopted the 2015 IRC, however you are not a code official so you should only state that the windows do not meet current code. Possibly recommend that they hire a licensed contractor. That’s all that needs to be said.

A majority of the homes I inspect are 50+ years ago.

Windows not meeting the 44" minimum are pretty common, and there is no rule to make anyone lower them, The city will even give you a permit to replace windows without lowering them.

I still put the fact the windows aren’t 44" in the report, of course, and I point it out to the client. I suggest a ladder/stairs, but I doubt anyone does much about it.

As a home inspector, I suggest that you get the concept of grandfathering out of your head and never consider or mention it. Grandfathering does not apply to home inspections. The concept of grandfathering is for code enforcement, we aren’t doing code enforcement. Nobody is forced to rectify a safety issue that we report. We are simply advising the client of issues that they should know about so that they may make informed decisions. Safety standards continually advance and today’s new house won’t meet tomorrow’s updated standards. Some new standards are easy to retrofit (e.g., GFCI), some may be more difficult (e.g., egress windows, AFCI, etc.). I report these things as deficient by current standards, explain why they exist in the current standard, so the buyer can make informed decisions. The right answer will vary from client to client. Some may simply let it be, some may simply select a different room to be the child’s bedroom, others may want to retrofit… I will talk about options and implications, but don’t try to steer the client to “my solution”, because my situation and priorities will invariably be different from theirs.

Don’t worry about grandfathering and shut down agents if they try to minimize what you are presenting with discussion of grandfathering.

Thanks again Guys, Great Suggestions. As a realtor said about a home inspector who they did hand out his cards to clients but no longer do, we called him Kill Deal, every single one he inspected we lost the sale. Don’t want to be that Guy!