Are you in the process of building a new home? Are you considering upgrades for your residential property? If so, you'll want to ensure that your construction plans meet all local egress window requirements. Failure to do so could result in costly fines and unnecessary headaches.
So, what are these requirements, and how can you make sure your new home meets them? Read on to find out.
What is an Egress Window?
An egress window is designed to allow for easy, effective emergency escape and/or rescue. Building codes in most states, including Florida, require that all new homes be equipped with such options. These egress products must meet specific criteria, such as size and the type of window protection (e.g., impact-resistant glass).
South Florida residents should also be aware that additional regulations may apply in their area, so it's important to double-check local building codes before beginning any construction work.
Using egress windows as a means of escape in an emergency is a smart and responsible decision and can be more cost-effective than other home upgrade options.
Why Does Florida Have Egress Window Requirements for Homes?
Egress window requirements are in place to ensure the safety of future inhabitants. Florida is no stranger to the threat of natural disasters, and building codes have been established to protect both homeowners and their property.
By installing dependable egress options, you can help ensure that your home is ready for whatever Mother Nature throws. So, the next time you're building a new home, be sure to consider products like impact windows and doors that meet current egress window requirements.
What Are the Egress Window Regulations in Florida?
Florida's building code is detailed in what is and is not acceptable for egress windows. Use the following language as a general explainer and double-check the official state codebook for official directives.
1) Required Minimum Opening Area
To qualify as an emergency escape and rescue opening under Florida codes, your egress windows need to have a minimum opening of 5.7 square feet in general, with that reduced to a mere 5 square feet for grade floor windows—that is, windows with a sill less than 3.6ft above or below a level ground floor.
This requirement is reduced by 5% for replacement windows, making the measurements for general windows and grade floor openings 5.42 square feet and 4.75 square feet, respectively.
2) Minimum Opening Height and Width
Escape and rescue openings under Florida building code must open to a height of at least two feet for new installations or 22.8 inches for replacements. On the other hand, the net clear width must be 20 inches or 19 inches for new or replacement installations.
It’s important to take these two codes separately; if you merely meet the minimum height and the minimum width, you’ll end up with an opening area of 3.3 square feet—well short of the requirements for any egress opening. Either height or width (or both) must be larger than their individual minimums to meet the outlined requirements from the state of Florida.
Other Egress Window Requirements to Consider
There are other requirements to keep in mind for installing an egress window than just the product measurements.
For example, under the current Florida building code, an emergency escape window needs to exit into an actual escape route (a public space, back yard, or pathway) with access to a public way or a screened area that exits away from the building.
In other words, you can’t have an egress window that exits into an internal courtyard without external access (a closed-in pool area, for example).
Additionally, to qualify as egress windows, the installed products must be operational from the inside without additional tools, keys, or special knowledge. In plain language, if a normal person couldn’t escape through the window in an emergency without seeing it beforehand, it doesn’t meet the code.
Looking for a copy of Florida's full building code on accessibility? Click here for a web-viewable copy.
Why Impact Products Make Perfect Egress Window Options
If you're in the market for egress windows, you will do well to consider impact windows and doors. These products can only adhere to the above-stated requirements but also provide multiple desirable benefits for South Florida homes.
Impact windows and doors provide the following benefits:
1) Operational Reliability
Impact windows provide reliable longevity in all types of weather conditions. They're also easy to operate and work when you need them most - such as in the case of a fire or other emergency. You can rest assured that every piece of an impact window will reliably work years down the road, unlike the breakdown that normally occurs with traditional windows.
2) Healthier Interior Environments
Unlike cheaper options, impact windows do not gather moisture and cause condensation. Excess condensation can lead to the growth of mold, which can be harmful to your health.
Condensation is also one of the main reasons why traditional windows break down over time. By preventing condensation, impact windows will keep your home healthier and last much longer.
Impact windows relieve asthma sufferers by reducing pollen, dust, and other irritants.
3) Stronger Home Security
In Florida, a burglary occurs about every 5 seconds. Most burglaries happen through windows and doors, which is why impact products greatly increase your home security.
Impact windows and doors are much more difficult to break than traditional products. They're also fitted with stronger locking mechanisms that make them even more resistant to forced entry.
In addition, impact windows can't be removed from the outside, so even if a burglar does manage to break the glass, they won't be able to enter your home.
This is an important consideration for any Florida homeowner.
4) Exterior Noise Reduction
Impact windows provide a significant reduction in exterior noise. This can be a huge benefit if you live in a high-traffic area or near an airport.
The thicker glass and tight seal of impact windows create a barrier that significantly reduces the amount of noise that enters your home.
You'll be able to enjoy peace and quiet in your own home, even if the outside world is anything but quiet.
5) UV Ray Filtering
UV rays not only cause damage to your skin but also to your home's interior.
Impact windows filter out harmful UV rays, protecting both you and your home. This can help to prevent fading of furniture, flooring, and other household items.
6) Lower Utility Bills
Because impact windows provide such a tight seal, they also help keep your home insulated. This leads to lower utility bills as your home's HVAC system won't have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature.
In the summer, you'll be protected from the heat, and in the winter, you'll be protected from the cold. Either way, you'll save money on your energy bills.
7) A More Comfortable Home
Have you ever walked from one end of your home to the other and felt the temperature change? This is a common occurrence in residences with traditional windows. Rooms on the south and west sides of homes get the hottest sun and can end up hotter than other rooms in the home.
Impact windows keep the entire residence at an even temperature, so you'll never have to worry about hot or cold spots again.
8) A Significant Financial Return on Your Investment
If you're planning on selling your home in the future, impact windows can increase its value. Because they provide a wide range of benefits, buyers will pay more for a home with impact products installed.
This means that you'll get a higher return on your investment when it comes time to sell.
Trust a Professional Installer When Planning Egress Window Installations
Alco Windows and Doors provides egress impact windows and installation services to residents throughout South Florida. We sell a wide range of options from the top manufacturers in the business, so you can rest assured that you're getting a high-quality product.
Additionally, our certified hurricane door specialists have the experience and expertise to ensure you receive the highest-quality installation services. Here's what the Alco difference looks like:
- We use superior products during installation for better results, such as marine-grade sealants and tap-con screws when mounting new windows and doors.
- Our installation crews take the time to fill gaps in your home's concrete after removing old windows and doors. This step ensures your new products fit more securely and resist bending and warping.
- We are registered with the Better Business Bureau and hold state contractor licensing to operate in the state of Florida.
- We hold full business insurance to protect our employees and your home and property during installation.
- We offer a guarantee on all of our installation work, so you can know that your hurricane-impact doors will last for many years to come.
Since our beginnings in 2017, we’ve committed ourselves to making South Florida communities stronger. Our friends and neighbors deserve a better path to protecting homes and families.
This mission is why we continually focus on two goals: superior product quality and outstanding customer service.
We believe our communities can be safer and stronger when people confidently understand how best to protect their homes, families, and livelihoods.
Contact us today for a free consultation!