Minimum height for window

Is there a minimum height for second story window? At the home I just inspected they were single hung, only 18" off the floor. The buyer has a 3 year old, if they are left open, a screen wouldn’t hold the kid in. I called it out to bring it to the buyer’s attention, but what does code say?


I do know that it is required that a window not be TOO high in bedrooms so that people can escape in case of a fire. I think I remember something about the window needing to be higher than 18 inches though.

There is a new provision that says any window with a sill above 72" shall have its interior sill at 24" or greater from finished floor.
or something like that, but I don’t think anyone has started using it yet.


The code here in Ontario says the window must have a guard if the window is less than 1’7" off the floor. The code also says a guard may be safety glass of the laminated or tempered type or “wired safety glass”. If a guard is used the rail must be a minimum of 42" from the floor and comply with the 4" rule and of course not be climbable.

Thanks Larry.

Most of the problem with windows is they need to meet egress code if they’re in a bedroom. With today’s construction practices once you have built the wall, installed the 2x10 header under the top plates, rough out the opening for an egress window and install it, it is usually 18-20 inches from the finished floor. I would have to check my code book but in this instance life safety code would take presidence over residential code.

Next time you drive around a new sub division look at the windows, you’ll see most houses built today the windows are all the same size, this is so all the window in the house meet egress code and the MFG just mass produces them so they are now a stock item and cheaper for the builder.

This poses a problem when remodeling an older home, in most older homes the second floor windows are usually the same width but smaller in height than the first floor windows. If you where to build a full dormer on a 50 year old cape you would need to install egress windows on the second floor for the bedrooms to meet code. This would make all the second floor window larger and unproportionate to the first floor windows and closer to the floor, which by the way is unsafe for small children. The best way to solve this problem is to install casement windows on the second floor that have special egress hardware which allows them to open a full 90 degrees thus meeting code.

WICKED Good Info from our N.H. Bro! :mrgreen:
I have family in Laconia so I know the language!

Ohio Residential Code is still the IRC 2003.

There is NO height restrictions on window sills under the IRC 2003… Ohio’s current code.


What you cited is not a code violation nor any problem in Ohio whatsoever…


I don’t utilize codes on my home inspections, as I inspect in many cities with many code variations.

If I come upon a safety issue, (such as your situation with the window height above a floor or installed in a stairway) I simply recommend installing safety rails in front of said window to prevent anyone from falling through or out the window. There is absolutely nothing wrong with recommending.

It’s great to have knowledge of all Codes, but stay away from reporting Codes.

Are you a code inspector?? I am - but if the home is already built, has an occupancy permit, and is being lived in - its passed code.

On a pre-owned home what you see, is what you get. Folks we used to do it this way, but today we do it a different way for safety sake. You are just doing your clients a good turn by mentioning that with small children, they might want to take safety precautions - or not.

Its not broken, its not a defect, its not something the seller is gonna change, its just some good advice.

Just to set the record straight. I don’t do code inspections, I wanted to know if there was a code for my own knowlege. If there were a code, I would have said, “Current building standards blah blah blah”. I did call it out because I feel its a safety hazard.


i believe there is a sq ft egress code for bedroom windows. most window companies (like pella or marvin) have reps that know the codes & will tell you quickly. under 18" (or is it 24") requires tempered (or is it safety) glass. there’s also a max sill height (42"?)

This may help:

It would help more if clearly written. What is “The maximum height difference between the finished grade, either above or below the window sill is 44”." supposed to mean?

Jim King

IRC R308 Glazing

You might want to review IRC R308.4-Hazardess Locations.

If you are looking for a safety line, look at R308.4.7.

Peter, thank you and I like your use of a very important word here in northern NE, Wicked!!!
If you ever get this way look me up and we can go to the Naswa at Wiers Beach, I’ll buy you a cold beer and we can have a wicked good time!

I’m thinking window well.

Do you mean to say, the 2003 IRC does not have emergency fire egress window sill height limitations with regard to bedroom and or sleeping areas?

2003 IRC

**1026.2 Minimum size. **Emergency escape and rescue openings
shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 square feet
(0.53 m2).
**Exception: **The minimum net clear opening for emergency
escape and rescue grade-floor openings shall be 5 square
feet (0.46 m2).

**1026.2.1 Minimum dimensions. **The minimum net clear
opening height dimension shall be 24 inches (610 mm). The
minimum net clear opening width dimension shall be 20
inches (508 mm). The net clear opening dimensions shall be
the result of normal operation of the opening.

**1026.3 Maximum height from floor. **Emergency escape and
rescue openings shall have the bottom of the clear opening not
greater than 44 inches (1118 mm) measured from the floor.

Above = window sill is below grade, climbable distance from sill to grade is 44" max

Below = window sill is above grade, climbable distance from grade over sill is 44" max