Egress Code in Toronto

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With house prices in Toronto and the Greater Toronto area on the rise, more and more people are looking to add basement apartments to generate rental income and offset large mortgage payments or other expenses. When adding a basement unit, or simply renovating a basement for your own personal use, it is important to ensure that the projects meets the egress code in Toronto. Every space, especially if there is a sleeping room, needs to have two means of egress to get out in the event of an emergency like a fire. When it comes to basements, the easiest way to achieve this second means is through a special window that complies with the building code.   

What are Toronto Egress Window Requirements?

In order for a window to pass Egress in Toronto: 
  • 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 550 mm (1’ 10 2/3”) 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.

Egress Windows are Emergency Exits

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 Ontario Building Code

Municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area generally revert to the Ontario Building Code. The Ontario Building Code requires that every floor level containing a bedroom in a suite includes at least one window that can easily be opened from the inside. 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 550 mm (1’ 10 2/3”) 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.

Diagram of a window that passes egress in Toronot

With an unobstructed clear opening of 0.357 square meters and the smallest clear opening height being 380 mm, Window A would pass Toronto Egress. It is important to note that, since the height is so small, the width must be rather large to meet the area requirements.  

Diagram of a window that passes egress in Toronto

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 egress. 

Diagram of a window that does not pass egress in Toronto

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 Toronto. 

Egress Window Well Requirements in Toronto

Egress code in Toronto requires window wells to meet certain conditions. The well must provide 550 mm of clearance after the window in order to be compliant. Also, the window itself can be no more than 1 m above the floor of the basement. This "floor", however, can include the surface of a bench or built in step below the window. The following diagrams provide visual depictions of these requirements.

a diagram of an egress window well and in-swinging window that meets egress code in Toronto

This is a side cross sectional diagram showing an in-swinging egress window opening into an egress window well. In this instance, the well must protrude at least 550 mm from the house to meet egress code in Toronto.

a diagram of an egress window well and out-swinging window that meets egress code in Toronto

This is a side cross sectional diagram showing an out-swinging egress window and its accompanying egress window well. In this instance, the well must protrude 550 mm from the end of the fully open window to meet egress code in Toronto. 

In Short

At the end of the day, if you are developing your basement in Toronto, whether as a rental unit or for personal use, you will to ensure that there are two means of egress. Generally the easiest way to do this is by installing 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. If you would like to get your hands on a code-compliant egress window, let us ship one straight to your door. 

Our windows come in several types and sizes and have been specifically designed to meet egress in Toronto. If you need a specific size or a specific colour, we can have a custom window made just for you. 

An Egress Window in a window well in Toronto

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