Windows on property line

For new construction in new york is it allowed to place windows on a wall that is on the property line facing another building or does the wall need to be 6’ from the property line to have a window in it?

Considering how populous New York is, as well as the limited availability of land, I suspect it is. I’ve never considered it before. I hope all walls can have windows in them, because if they can’t then half the houses here would have to be torn down and rebuilt. The homes in these new subdivisions, some of those homes costing millions of dollars, are so close to each other that one someone heftier than me ($193, 6’4") can’t walk between the two homes. In some of them, instead of going to the neighbor’s door, knocking, and asking to borrow a cup of sugar, one can just open one’s kitchen window, knock on the neighbor’s kitchen window, and get that cup of sugar. I think they do this so that the neighbor’s can “reach out and touch someone” with a little more privacy! :slight_smile:

The issue generally becomes one of “fire safety” or in Canadian code terms “spatial separation”. The amount (%) of openings and distance between buildings becomes an issue when looking at it from a fire safety point of view. So without knowing the NY code - this certainly is not out of line with the requirements of Canadian building codes related to fire safety.


I wonder if that spatial separation could have anything–anything at all, mind you–with why our wildfires are so disastrous here when they get into the neighborhoods.
Now ya got me ta thinkin’, and ya know that ain’t good; could be dangerous.
Somehow I bet the appropriate authorities have already thought about that and have decided that, since a wildfire only hits the same neighborhood once every 30 years or so, the benefits of cramming more people into a neighborhood for 30 years outweighs the costs of a wildfire destroying the neighborhood once every 30 years.
Besides, once a home hits that 30-year mark, everything in it is soooooo outdated, it probably needs to be torn down in some form or fashion and rebuilt.
Fires are real good at tearing down things.
Hey, I think I see how the system works here.
I told ya me thinking could be dangerous.
Darn margaritas :margarit:

In NY around my neck of the woods local zoning is usually more restrictive than state building codes. But if there are walls (with or without windows) very close to property lines then building codes require special fire ratings.

Remember the Great Chicago Fire?

P.S. The RCNYS requires buildings to be at least 3’ from property lines without special fire rated walls … so thats where the 6’ between buildings comes from.

I would imagine the the necessity to provide Fire-rated glass in those occurrences probably would not happen, so It would be prudent to at least provide:


At the very least.

On Commercial Projects with Buildings this close, it would be required to have Sprinkler heads for sidewall protection against your neighbor or your neighbor from yours.

Without the proper protection from this scenario, you are doomed if a fire starts.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Worried about windows?

How about common roofs?

I was there in Philadelphia that day.

It is an event that you will never forget.

jhagarty Worried about windows?

Hi. Joe H.

I am not worried about windows.
It is a source of protection under normal building occurrences that might prove to be an alternate to the mere Code Compliant designs of Modern Home Building.
No matter what protection you have would not protect you from this type of scenario, as you pointed out, I was just thinking and pointing out a method of protection that some might not be aware of.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


P.S. At least in NY for new construction, windows are not permitted in the walls parallel to the property line if there is less than 3’ clear from the wall to the property line. There can be windows on returns along the wall, perpindicular to the property line. The same provisions are in the IRC (Section R302.2).

The required Light and Ventilation can be an issue for some rooms along these outside walls without windows.

JMO & 2-nickels … :wink:

Thanks Robert,
I was hoping you would say that.

I just could not back it up.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Forgot to mention Joe. H. that your link was appreciated and was quite a tragedy.

Thanks./ :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Thanks. That’s what I thought. Although I thought is was 6’ for some reason. New building going up next to my parents (not very happy about that) with their side wall right on the property line. My parents house is about 6’ from the property line. I already see 2 window openings on the first level.

Is there a code that you can find so I can give them?

Thanks, Daren

Robert And All,

As you mentioned, here is that section of the code: (my question is after it)

M. Change IRC subsection R302.2 to read:
R302.2. Openings. Openings shall not be permitted in the exterior wall of a dwelling or accessory building ] with a fire separation distance less than three feet (914 mm). Openings in excess of 25% of the area of the entire wall surface, which shall include bay windows, shall not be permitted ] in the exterior wall of a dwelling or ] an accessory building with a fire separation distance between three ] feet (914 mm and five feet (1524mm ]). The building face of a bay window shall not be considered a separate wall with respect to the computation of the 25% opening limitations. ] This distance shall be measured perpendicular to the line used to determine the fire separation distance.

It says a “fire separation distance less than three feet”. Now that would mean from the next building, wouldn’t it. It does not mention from the property line. So then they can put the window if their wall is on the property line sa long as the nect building is more that the three feet.

Am I reding this right then?

This may sound stupid but what about bedroom egress on these walls?

Not being sarcastic, I guess it would be prudent to have a living room, kitchen, and bathroom with no windows and the bedrooms up front. ha. ha.

I don’t think I would like that scenario to much.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Fire Separation Distance is measured to the property line, not an adjacent building. Here is a definition quote from the RCNYS:

So a 3’ fire separation distance for both properties translates into 6’ between buildings (without special fire rating and no windows).

Local mileage may vary. So If you really have an issue I would recommend visiting the local building department and discussing it with them.

JMO & 2-nickels … :wink: