I own a house in Texas (USA), built in 1885. I am renovating, enclosing the second floor back porch; it's essentially an addition, with a bathroom, a storage closet, and a hallway. The area will be about 6 feet deep; the hall is a short tee, with the closet on the right and the bathroom on the left. I'm doing the work myself (though I did have my plans and the building inspected by an engineer); I have a fair amount of experience in construction and planning, but not a lot with building code (I grew up outside of town, where "building", "permit", and "inspection" are unrelated words).

My house has many tall windows, 84 inches tall, all double hung. Three of these windows faced the porch, so I am moving them (frame, trim, and all) to the (new) outside wall. One window goes in the bathroom, one in the closet, and the third in the hallway. I realize it's a bit odd to put a window in a closet, but it fits the symmetry of the house. Installed, the windows will be about 2 inches above the floor, essentially floor to ceiling. The bathroom window and hall window will each have a fixed pane on bottom, and a sliding sash on top; the closet will be double hung, able to open from top or bottom.

I am going to add a reinforced railing in front of the hallway window, to prevent over-excited children from leaping to their doom; otherwise, what safety measures do I need to put in place for the windows to meet building code? This includes type and thickness of glass, how and what parts of the window can open, railings or other guards, and anything else I may not have thought of.

  • Here's an interesting article: opinexperts.com/newsroom/2013/02/06/… Sounds like your 24" sill height is adequate. I'd consider fixing the bottom sashes to make them stationary if children are regularly present. Do so with a removeable latch.
    – isherwood
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 16:12
  • @isherwood - it's actually 2 inches above the floor, not two feet. Edited to make that clearer.
    – ArmanX
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 16:23
  • Ah. I misread. The Protecting Infants section mentions limiting devices such as I mentioned. You'd probably also need tempered bottom sashes.
    – isherwood
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


Windows above 72 inches from exterior grade are required to have a sill at least 24 inches off the floor to meet 2012 IRC requirements, which should be what you're required to comply with (IRC at least, it might not be 2012 but AFAIK it's been 24 inches for years). If you can limit the windows from opening more than 4 inches, or use a "Window Opening Control Device" that limits it to 4 inches, but releases with more pressure (no more than 15 pounds, however), then they are OK below the 24 inches. Here is a link to the code.

If you prevent the bottom sash from opening at all, and the top of the bottom sash is no less than 24 inches from the floor, then it meets the requirement. Your closet window needs to meet this requirement as well (meaning, allowing it to open freely from two inches above the floor is not OK). Or, you can install guards (I'm guessing that the guards would have to prevent a 4" sphere from passing as well).

Recommendations from my own experience would be to replace the glass with tempered if you are able (I'm surprised it's not required), just in case a window breaks there will be less of a chance to get cut. And, if you're expecting to have rambunctious kids (or dogs or whatever) in the house, I would install guards even if the windows don't open. Just in case.

  • Whew! Making the closet window the same as the others is really quite easy; I'm glad there's no other issues. I'll probably put a guard over all of the lower windows, too, just in case. Thanks!
    – ArmanX
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 22:16

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