Egress windows: 2023 requirements to keep your family safe

When you need to escape from a fire or other disaster, finding an easy exit or egress is essential. Most of the time you probably only think about doors as egress, but in an emergency, windows are essential egress as well.

During consultation appointments, Ecoline Windows often finds that window companies have not properly informed homeowners about current egress window regulations, and as a result, have installed windows that don’t meet the BC fire code standard. This error is not only unlawful — it can also be deadly.

BC egress window requirements

Each bedroom must have at least one outside window or exterior door, except in some cases where a suite is outfitted with sprinklers. Egress windows or doors must be easily opened from the inside, without special knowledge or tools.

  • Egress window size: The National Building Code of Canada states that egress windows must provide an unobstructed opening with areas not less than 0.35 square metres (3.77 square feet), with no dimension less than 380 mm (15 in.). To ensure the unobstructed opening meets these criteria, you should measure between the sashes, jambs, sills, and opening mechanisms.
  • Clearing in front of window: Where the egress window opens into a window well, a clearance of minimum 760 mm (30 inches) must be provided in front of the window to allow a person to escape. Many typical basement awning windows do not comply with current building codes. Windows must not be more than 1.5 metres above the floor. Many basement windows are higher than this, so adding a built-in bench or step will allow for easy access.

Converting standard basement windows into egress windows

In many cases when basement windows are converted into bedroom basement windows to accommodate kids’ reading nook or playroom, concrete wall cutting is required in order to enlarge the existing window opening.

In such cases, many window replacement companies recommend hiring a contractor that will enlarge the window opening to the proper window size. Your window replacement company will provide accurate dimensions based on local building codes.

This work usually requires a permit from your municipality, so make sure to clarify with your company whether your window installation requires any additional approvals. As the homeowner, you are usually required to obtain a cut-out permit.

After the opening is enlarged, the new window can then be installed.

Rebates and grants in British Columbia to help you save on egress windows installation in 2023

To help defray the cost of energy efficient upgrades (including windows) British Columbians have access to a number of rebates and grants.

  • The Canada Greener Homes grant helps Canadian homeowners improve their home’s energy efficiency, while also saving money. Alongside rebates for solar panel installation and heater upgrades, Canadians can receive up to $5,600 for windows and doors.
  • In British Columbia, the CleanBC Income Rebates can be combined with the Canada Greener Homes grant for even more savings. The CleanBC rebate helps low income individuals and families, offering rebates on windows and doors of up to $9,500. If your household income is below $147,943, you may qualify for this rebate.
  • The British Columbia Energy Efficiency Rebate Program offers up to $10,000 in rebates for residential renovation projects, including to $2,000 in rebates for replacement windows and doors. To be eligible, you must have a BC Hydro or FortisBC account, and the home must be a year-round, residential dwelling. Products must be listed on the Natural Resource Canada certified fenestration products list, and the installation contractor must have a valid BC business license. Ecoline Windows meets all product and installation requirements, and they’ll even submit the initial application and installation invoice after completion for you.

Upgrade your home’s safety, energy efficiency and comfort, by consulting the experts at Ecoline Windows and replacing windows and doors.

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