Window replacement issue (egress)

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investor997
Posts: 358
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:23 pm

Window replacement issue (egress)

Post by investor997 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:29 pm

I'm running into a window replacement issue concerning egress building code. The code states that bedroom windows must open to a minimum width, height and area for emergency exit purposes. When frame-in-frame vinyl replacements are installed, their openings are smaller than the originals due to the way they're designed and installed and as a result, one of my bedroom windows' minimum opening width won't be wide enough to meet this code. This is true for every common window replacement brand I've checked (Milgard, Simonton, Andersen, Anlin, etc.).

I live in a HOA of attached townhomes. I've had several back-and-forth meetings with the board regarding possible solutions and they've conditionally approved a "new construction" type of installation for this particular window. With this type of install, rather than install the new window frame-in-frame, the original aluminum window frame is removed completely and replaced altogether. The exterior siding trim must be temporarily removed, and the interior drywall might need to be trimmed back slightly, but the end result is a modern window that's a cosmetic match for the others and will have just enough opening area to meet egress code. However, the HOA is telling me I need to sign a legal covenant that will be attached to the title of the property stating that I and any subsequent owner of the property will be held responsible for repairing any leaks and/or damage as a result of the installation. They also want me to reimburse them $500 for attorney fees plus any filing costs with the county before proceeding.

All the other windows at the property can be replaced using the low cost, frame-in-frame method. It's only this one particular window that's causing a problem.

Questions: Am I crazy to agree to this? Would a subsequent buyer balk at this when I decide to sell?

Trivia: There are probably ~50 other units in my development with the same issue. About a half-dozen of them already have replacement windows installed. None of them meet code due to this issue. One of my neighbors had a handyman replace his window after Lowe's refused to do so due to the egress issue. The HOA board claimed ignorance. "Huh? We had no idea..."

megabad
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Re: Window replacement issue (egress)

Post by megabad » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:41 pm

Sounds like you have made the error of asking for permission rather than forgiveness. You didn't get this advice from me, but I would wait a year and then the window would "magically" find itself replaced and I might convenient forget to notify anyone...on accident. Of course, I would only replace a window if it was leaking water, single pane, or wooden anyway.

investor997
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Re: Window replacement issue (egress)

Post by investor997 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:58 pm

megabad wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:41 pm
Sounds like you have made the error of asking for permission rather than forgiveness.
Correct. If I had to do it over again...

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Window replacement issue (egress)

Post by jabberwockOG » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:02 pm

megabad wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:41 pm
Sounds like you have made the error of asking for permission rather than forgiveness. You didn't get this advice from me, but I would wait a year and then the window would "magically" find itself replaced and I might convenient forget to notify anyone...on accident. Of course, I would only replace a window if it was leaking water, single pane, or wooden anyway.
Agree.

2comma
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Re: Window replacement issue (egress)

Post by 2comma » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:12 pm

A quick check shows IRC (first floor window) is:

Clear opening width ≥ 20"
Clear opening height ≥ 24"
Minimum clear opening sq.ft. = 5.0 sq.ft.
Maximum sill height above the floor = 44"

Gee that's a small window you have there. I'd be inclined to just get it done when no ones looking.
If I am stupid I will pay.

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Pajamas
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Re: Window replacement issue (egress)

Post by Pajamas » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:13 am

investor997 wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:29 pm
However, the HOA is telling me I need to sign a legal covenant that will be attached to the title of the property stating that I and any subsequent owner of the property will be held responsible for repairing any leaks and/or damage as a result of the installation.
This is normal in the situation you describe. It most often becomes an issue when someone remodels a kitchen or bathroom and move fixtures or when electrical is replaced. You and future owners would probably also be responsible for damage to other units if any leaks or similar caused problems in the future.
They also want me to reimburse them $500 for attorney fees plus any filing costs with the county before proceeding.
The attorney fees seem a bit unusual. This situation should be more routine than that and the HOA should have forms and a procedure for this already. Perhaps the attorney fees are needed for dealing with the county? Filing fees seem appropriate.
Questions: Am I crazy to agree to this? Would a subsequent buyer balk at this when I decide to sell?

Trivia: There are probably ~50 other units in my development with the same issue. About a half-dozen of them already have replacement windows installed. None of them meet code due to this issue. One of my neighbors had a handyman replace his window after Lowe's refused to do so due to the egress issue. The HOA board claimed ignorance. "Huh? We had no idea..."
This is where it becomes very interesting. It seems appropriate for you to agree to it and it should have been the same for the other six people who have replaced their windows. Any buyer or buyer's attorney would certainly see the legal covenant as a potential issue when doing due diligence and need to ensure that the work was done appropriately and that there is no current damage. If you go this route, make sure to have the window officially inspected to approve the installation if possible and take photos of the work in progress to have a record at the time of sale.

The real issue is that the HOA has not solved this problem on an association-wide scale. The board and managing agent or firm if any should have already dealt with this before and say something like, "oh, here's a company that can supply you with a custom window that meets code" or "here's the form you have to fill out and submit to the HOA to file with the county and you have to pay the filing fees". A universal solution is what I would advocate, not one specific to your unit.

As far as installing windows that don't meet code, that is more likely to interfere with a future sale than a legal covenant attached to the property accepting future responsibility for problems to the common property arising from the window replacement. It could also endanger lives and I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for something like that twenty years after I sold my condo.

rgarling
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Re: Window replacement issue (egress)

Post by rgarling » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:36 am

investor997 wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:29 pm
...
Questions: Am I crazy to agree to this? Would a subsequent buyer balk at this when I decide to sell?
...
Yes and yes. Leave that one window as is.

investor997
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Re: Window replacement issue (egress)

Post by investor997 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:18 am

Pajamas wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:13 am
This is where it becomes very interesting. It seems appropriate for you to agree to it and it should have been the same for the other six people who have replaced their windows. Any buyer or buyer's attorney would certainly see the legal covenant as a potential issue when doing due diligence and need to ensure that the work was done appropriately and that there is no current damage. If you go this route, make sure to have the window officially inspected to approve the installation if possible and take photos of the work in progress to have a record at the time of sale.
Some window installers who quoted me said they'd do the window if and only if I signed a liability waiver with them acknowledging the window will no longer meet egress code. I suspect this is what most others have done. Either that or they did what my neighbor did: he had Lowe's sell him the window but not install it, then after the city signed off on the job for all the other windows he paid a handyman to install the final window "off the books". Unfortunately I'm blessed with an excess of morality so I'm not interested in going this route.
The real issue is that the HOA has not solved this problem on an association-wide scale. The board and managing agent or firm if any should have already dealt with this before and say something like, "oh, here's a company that can supply you with a custom window that meets code" or "here's the form you have to fill out and submit to the HOA to file with the county and you have to pay the filing fees". A universal solution is what I would advocate, not one specific to your unit.
I've tried to lead the HOA down this path by emphasizing the fact that "It's not just me", but thus far they've seemed uninterested. They've been pretty unhelpful, to be honest.

A part of me thinks there's a chance I can get one or more local window installation companies interested in this by forming a partnership with the HOA to develop an approved solution. It could mean a lot of future business for them, and it would validate the installation (in a buyer's mind) as being approved/legit. Besides, the window installers usually provide a pretty strong warranty on parts and labor which is often transferable to the next owner of the property.
As far as installing windows that don't meet code, that is more likely to interfere with a future sale than a legal covenant attached to the property accepting future responsibility for problems to the common property arising from the window replacement. It could also endanger lives and I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for something like that twenty years after I sold my condo.
Exactly.

For now, I'm probably going to leave the one window alone and do all the others, then continue to apply pressure to the HOA until they get it right.

I was also thinking last night, "How come they don't seem so paranoid when it comes to sliding patio door installations"? A new construction window is certainly no more involved than a patio door...

txmu541
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Location: Austin, Texas

Re: Window replacement issue (egress)

Post by txmu541 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:09 pm

Is this a situation where the CCR's state that the window frame is the HOA responsibility (limited common element?)? If so, what would the HOA do if the frame became defective or were leaking?

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