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Buyers inspector "bedroom windows don't meet code." Does my rebuttal work?

Buyers inspector "bedroom windows don't meet code." Does my rebuttal work?

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  #1  
Old 03-02-14, 12:46 PM
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Buyers inspector "bedroom windows don't meet code." Does my rebuttal work?

This question is related to complying with R310.1, egress windows.

I own a Duplex built in 1944, single level, 2 bedrooms on each side of the duplex. I live on one side, tenants the other. Original windows were "grandfathered." They were wood-framed, single-hung windows. All the windows are original, except the bedroom windows.

I bought the duplex in 1997, and the bedroom windows were aluminum and noted as such in my VA home appraisal. I also knew they were "updated", yet dated, as there are many homes of the exact 1944 build in town. They were not listed as a problem in the appraisal, while other minor unrelated problems were noted. (Note) Both bedroom aluminum windows on each side of the duplex are exactly the same.

Fast forward to 2011. I decide to change out (DIY) these aluminum, single pane, horizontal slider, (drafty) windows, with the same size, quality vinyl, double pane, horizontal sliders in both bedrooms on both sides of the duplex. I did not get a permit because I figured it was a maintenance job. No interior work was needed. I only needed to replace a few ceder shakes and trim to change them out. The interior walls and trim around the aluminum windows was finished when the original 1944 windows were changed to aluminum. Whenever that was.

Fast forward to last week 2014. I'm selling the house and the buyers inspector says he doesn't think my windows meet code. I have the required window opening size in 2 of the bedrooms, but the sills are 45 1/2" inches above the floor and more than the required 44" maximum . The other 2 bedroom windows have openings too small, and sills too high.

I have not talked to the city yet. I want to make whatever I have too, right. I am hoping for the best outcome cost and time wise. I can get my old neighbors to attest to when these aluminum windows were installed. I can show the city my original appraisal noting these aluminum windows, including pictures. I can show them the same aluminum windows that are in the detached garage permitted and built in 1961. As a last resort, change out 1 window in each of the bedrooms. I hopefully won't have to change out both of the windows in each of the 4 bedrooms (8 total).

Any and all help in finding the best, legal, and most practical solution is appreciated.

Thank you all for your time.
 

Last edited by Misdemeanor; 03-02-14 at 02:22 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-02-14, 12:59 PM
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Even with a permit I doubt the city would require you to reframe the opening of the windows to meet current code. Homes are sold all the time that do not meet current codes on everything as they are grandfathered in as you mentioned.

So the buyers inspector says they don't meet code. He/they has no authority to make you do anything. Have the buyers contacted you at all? If not, I would wait to see if anything comes to this and then deal with it then. If they want the windows enlarged you can either discount your price and they can have it done. Or you can do it and your price should reflect that. Last option is to do nothing and sell it "As is".
 
  #3  
Old 03-02-14, 01:22 PM
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The buyers pulled their offer without written explanation beyond, "Buyers Inspection of the Property is disapproved and the Agreement is terminated." It is the realtor that explained what the buyers inspector said.
It was the original 1944 windows that were "grandfathered". I don't know that the aluminum, let alone the newer vinyl, are grandfathered?
I wonder too if I need to disclose this "code violation" on my "Sellers Disclosure Form?"
I am a FSBO. Yes, I can install new and raise the price, if that is what has to be done.
Thank you for the reply.
 
  #4  
Old 03-02-14, 01:33 PM
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I also can't say with certainty what your area requires. Around here, no one would batt an eye at the existing windows, since as you pointed out, they are grandfathered in. They may note it on an inspection but it's a non-issue. Some prospective buyers may decide not to buy based on that, and I guess you can't blame them. It was a stupid design in the first place. But not everyone will care.

Most places will also allow you to install a replacement window (retrofit) into the existing window frame. But *IF* you would decide to tear out the old existing window frame down to the rough opening, you must now bring the window up to current codes- size, height requirements from floor for egress windows, the whole 9 yards.

So I guess the question is... which route did YOU take, and what does your municipality require?
 
  #5  
Old 03-02-14, 02:10 PM
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Thank you. But I think their is a misunderstanding here. The original 1944 windows were grandfathered. Since then, yet sometime prior to my purchase of the home in 1997, those 1944 windows were replaced with a different size aluminum framed windows. In 2011, I replaced the aluminum windows with like-for-like vinyl.
 
  #6  
Old 03-02-14, 02:21 PM
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No misunderstanding. If the windows were torn out- by you in 2011- the question is... were the windows torn out down to the rough opening or not. If they were, I bet the city has the authority to say that they should have been resized at that point in time, regardless of what was done in the past or by whom. No one will care what was done in the past before you owned it. They will want to know what improvements YOU made and whether or not they were up to code. That's part of the reason permits are obtained. The fact that they are still the same size they have always been may not have anything to do with it.

That is how it would work in some municipalities around here. Like I said, it's anyone's guess what the rules are there. You will have to ask.
 
  #7  
Old 03-02-14, 02:25 PM
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The aluminum framed windows were simply removed from their existing rough openings and replaced with vinyl in the same rough openings.
 
  #8  
Old 03-02-14, 02:43 PM
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I understand that.

The fact that they are still the same size they have always been may not have anything to do with it.
I know it doesn't make sense but I'm telling you that's the way the code is interpreted- at least around here. You can't expect government policies to be logical. There is no point getting upset when you don't know what the rules are in your area. (like I said, you need to ASK. Code enforcement varies from place to place) I'm just telling you what I have run into being in and around the window business for the past 22+ years... and this is it:

Most places will also allow you to install a replacement window (retrofit) into the existing window frame. But *IF* you would decide to tear out the old existing window frame down to the rough opening, you must now bring the window up to current codes- size, height requirements from floor for egress windows, the whole 9 yards.
 
  #9  
Old 03-02-14, 04:58 PM
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XSleeper, I see now what you are saying, and I agree. Thank you for laying it out like you did. That said, going forward to get a permit to change out one window in each bedroom to code (4 windows total), do you think in the end they'll make me update both windows per bedroom (8 total) because none of them, when changed, were changed out to code? Is their a best way to approach the permit inspector on a path forward for the best, economical outcome?
 
  #10  
Old 03-02-14, 05:19 PM
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Perhaps you can get the buyers back if you offer make the windows legal egress. Otherwise I suspect they pulled the offer and used the windows to get out of the deal.
 
  #11  
Old 03-02-14, 05:43 PM
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A pre-purchase inspection is done for the buyer and possibly for a lender to determine the livable square footage to determine the "market value" and the maximum loan amount.

The 44" sounds like common number required for an area to be included in the livable area. In some areas it is 42" to allow children out. Also, the CLEAR opening may not be enough to allow fire fighters in to fight a fire. These things commonly occur in bedrooms below grade where egress windows usually have certification sticker on them when new. - It is a tough spec to meet when sticking new windows that look the same, but at not into an old framed rough opening. No doubt they could be grandfathered under the building code, but lenders want some modern standards when setting a maximum loan value.

Dick
 
  #12  
Old 03-02-14, 05:54 PM
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do you think in the end they'll make me update both windows per bedroom
No, code only requires one window be egress per bedroom. The only reason to do both would be symmetry or aesthetics. If you get a real jackwhacker that wants to punish you for not getting a permit years ago, then yeah, maybe he would make you do all 8. But I would play it by ear. One per bedroom is all that's required, then the others become a mute point.

Is their a best way to approach the permit inspector on a path forward for the best, economical outcome?
I would just explain the situation as you have done above. Building departments deal with this all the time so they will know just what to tell you. If the girls on the phone or behind the desk seem to be unhelpful, ask to speak to an actual inspector.

IMO, you want to know two things. 1). What are you REQUIRED to do, by code, if anything. 2). in the event that you aren't "required" to make any changes, but you still want to- to meet R310.1 so that potential buyers aren't scared away- what permits and inspections are needed?
 
  #13  
Old 03-02-14, 08:16 PM
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Thank you all for weighing in for me here. I'll find out soon enough when I get the permit and explain as I have above. If they make me replace to code both windows per bedroom, I will ask about just abandoning 1 in each by walling them off.
As a side note to continued bad luck, my heat pump compressor went out today. I'll pray in bed tonight.
 
  #14  
Old 03-03-14, 09:17 AM
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To add a point of detail with respect to the rough opening points and comments. Upon reflecting back on this job, and inspecting my work I can report the following...
The new vinyl windows were attached with screws through the sides of the existing window frames, and into the sides of the same window openings the aluminum windows came out of. I only needed to replace a few exterior cedar shakes and exterior trim to change them out.
I was hoping this would be called a retrofit but it is not. Not that that would make a difference.
 

Last edited by Misdemeanor; 03-03-14 at 12:04 PM.
  #15  
Old 03-27-14, 10:08 AM
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install a built in bench in front of your windows. or a step?
 
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