Why Windows Require Building Permits

building permits for windows

Construction data included in building permits reveals that both window retrofits and new installations are more popular than ever. Homeowners who are getting these new windows, however, often have a question: Why is a building permit required in the first place for the usually simple process of installing new windows? 

County building departments actually do have valid reasons for ensuring that replacement windows are subject to the permit process. Here’s why certain specifics about window installations often appear in building permit data:


Not all windows are created equal nor installed in similar places in a residence. Many building codes require windows in certain locations to have tempered glass rather than standard glass (i.e., windows immediately next to a door, windows that extend all the way to the floor, and windows in or near a bathtub or shower). 

Tempered glass is more resilient than standard glass; plus, it shatters into small pieces rather than splintering into more hazardous sharp splinters. Thus, tempered is considered safer in these locations and must be stipulated in building permit data.


Egress means that windows installed in bedrooms need to be openable and large enough for an adult-sized person to climb out in the event of a fire or other emergency. 

However, some existing homes may have been built before the egress safety standard became common. In that case, upgrading windows in bedrooms of these homes may require also enlarging the opening and/or other changes to accommodate today’s standards. To verify compliance, this alteration must appear in the building permit.

Style Matters

It’s not just finicky neighbors who want all houses to blend into the neighborhood. In many locales, the building department does, too. To that end, building permit data may require details about the replacement window style to ensure it doesn’t clash with other houses. For example, installing cheap, bare aluminum window frames might be prohibited by the building code in a neighborhood with traditional homes that have more subtle, classic frame styles.

For more information about construction data included in building permits for windows (and why), contact Construction Monitor.

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