If you are planning a window replacement project, you may wonder if you need to pull a building permit from your city or town. In most cases, yes, you do need a building permit unless you plan to just swap out the sashes (the movable parts). Once you alter the opening itself, or replace the whole window (including frame), you have to obtain a permit.
There are reasons why your city or town wants you to do this:
- Protection: As a safety precaution, building codes require tempered glass in any windows near doors, floors, or in tubs or showers. Tempered glass is stronger than standard glass and will shatter rather than break into sharp shards.
- Egress: Egress simply means entry and exit. Windows in bedrooms have to meet egress requirements for height and width so you can get out of the window in an emergency, or fire fighters can get in with their bulky equipment. If your bedroom windows fail to meet today’s egress codes, your contractor will have to enlarge the opening before adding new windows.
- Style: Cities also perform a planning review of replacement windows to ensure the style is consistent with the home. As an example, most cities prohibit unsightly mill-finish aluminum, which is a good thing. If your home features multipane windows, your city may require you to maintain that traditional appearance to preserve the neighborhood aesthetics. If you live in a historic district, there may be a certain type of window you can use to maintain historical status.
- Framing modifications: When you plan on altering the opening, inspectors will check to ensure the framing modifications are structurally sound. In addition, they will inspect waterproofing and flashing details to prevent leaks.
If your contractor asks whether or not you want a permit for your window replacement job, consider this a red flag. Any reputable window company knows most cities require a building permit and will secure the proper ones before beginning any project. It’s never up to the homeowner or the contractor to decide whether to pull a permit or not.
Obtaining a permit shows that your contractor has followed all codes regarding energy efficiency, egress, smoke detector/carbon dioxide, tempered glass, etc. and has performed the work properly. In addition, this action prevents any future complications if you decide to sell your home.
If you have specific questions regarding permits, contact your local building department.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead-Based Paint Renovation Rule (RRP), created in 2010, says that if a contractor replaces even one window in a home that was constructed before 1978, a lead test must be done to see if there is any lead paint found on previously- painted surfaces near and around the window.
If the test comes back positive for lead, you will have to hire an EPA-certified firm to perform the repairs and renovations. That firm will have to follow guidelines for cleanup and containment, which will increase cost and extend duration of the project.
Contact Rescom Exteriors for Expert Window Replacement Services
Here at Rescom, we use quality Bristol windows for our home improvement projects and will always pull the proper permits. To learn more, contact us at 774-321-6750.