Egress Code in British Columbia
What are British Columbia Egress Requirements?
- The window must be openable from the inside without the use of tools or special knowledge.
- It must provide an unobstructed opening with a minimum area of 0.35 sq. m. (3.77 sq. ft.) with no dimension less than 380 mm (1’3”).
- There must be a 760 mm (2’ 6”) space of clearing in front of the window.
- Where a window sash swings towards a window well, it must not do so in a way that would restrict escape in an emergency.
What are Egress Windows?
Egress means to go out. Egress windows, then, are windows you can use to leave your home. While they may seem like a regulatory burden, these windows furnish occupants with natural light, provide a source of natural ventilation, and can become a lifesaver in an emergency.
If there is a fire in your home, for example, a single stairwell may become unusable, leaving family members and tenants without a clear path to safety.
For bedrooms and floors with doors that lead directly outside, these windows are not strictly necessary. This is because there are clear escape routes that can be taken in the case of an emergency. In basements, however, egress windows are essential and, if there is a bedroom, required by law.
The British Columbia Building Code
Section 18.104.22.168 of the British Columbia Building Code 2018 requires "Except where the suite is sprinklered, each bedroom or combination bedroom shall have at least one outside window or exterior door openable from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge and without
the removal of sashes or hardware."
This window must provide an unobstructed open space greater than 0.35 sq. m. (3.77 sq. ft.) with no dimension less than 380 mm (15"). The window must also be able to maintain the required opening without the need for additional support.
Where this window opens into a window well, that well must have a clearance of at least 760 mm (2’ 6”) and, if the window swings towards the well, it must not restrict the opening of the window in such a way that it would obstruct the ability to escape in the event of an emergency.
With an unobstructed clear opening of 0.357 square meters and the smallest clear opening height being 380 mm, Window A would pass British Columbia Egress. It is important to note that, since the height is so small, the width must be rather large to meet the area requirements.
This window has the smallest square dimensions that will meet the area requirements. 592 mm x 592 mm leaves the window with exactly the 3.5 square meter clear opening required to pass British Columbia egress.
This window meets the requirements for smallest dimension (380 mm), however it does not meet the minimum requirements for area. This window would not pass egress in British Columbia.
Egress Window Well Requirements in British Columbia
In order the meet egress code in British Columbia, an egress window that is below ground level must open into a well that meets certain requirements.
The well must extend 760 mm beyond the fully open window (for an out-swinging window) or beyond the wall (for an in-swinging window). The bottom of the window must also be no more than 1 m above the ground. This "ground", however, can be a bench or step that is put in place to meet this limit.
This is a side cross-sectional view of a basement with egress window and adjacent window well. As this egress window is in-swinging, the window well must extend at least 550 mm from the wall. Also, the base of the window can be no more than 1 m above the ground (or other built in step).
This is a side cross sectional view of a basement with an out-swinging egress window and its window well. To meet egress in British Columbia, this well must extend 760 mm past the fully open window. The base of the window can be no more than 1 m above the ground (or built in step).
To put it all simply, if you are developing your basement in British Columbia you will need an egress window that has a wide clearance and be easily opened.
The Great Egress Company provides a curated collection of windows that meet egress requirements. The easiest way to get your hands on a code-compliant egress window is to let us ship one straight to your door. Have a look for yourself.
Our windows come in several types and sizes that will pass egress in British Columbia.