There is a misconception in the Real Estate profession that a bedroom requires a window and a closet to be called a bedroom. SIMPLY NOT TRUE!!

Few of us consider a bedroom window to be a life-saving exit and they are not considered a common exit route. Most of us consider the exterior doors as the familiar route to exit in case of a fire. Albeit any window can surely be used as an egress to exit the home in any life-threatening or emergency situation.

A bedroom in Ontario does not require an egress window in the actual bedroom.

Let’s delve into this misunderstood real estate misconception and demystify the myth.


The Ontario Building Code regulates Ontario. This will probably come to as a 2017-300x208surprise to many and a sense of relief to many others contemplating adding a bedroom in the basement. Contrary to popular belief in Ontario, The Ontario Building Code does not require an egress window to the actual bedroom. Only one means of egress window or door is required per level. THOSE ARE THE FACTS

Egress from Bedroom OBC

(1). Except where a door on the same level as a bedroom provides direct access to the exterior, every floor level containing a bedroom in a suite shall be provided with at least one outside window.

egress1When listing a home, that contains an exterior door or patio door in the basement leading to a walk-out, that is the egress access for that level for all basement bedrooms. The individual bedrooms do not require a separate egress window. The exterior and or patio door provides the exterior egress for that floor level. THOSE ARE THE FACTS.

When listing a home that contains a window in the basement family room, that meets the OBC minimum size standards, can be considered the egress access for that level for all basement bedrooms. The individual bedrooms do not require a separate egress window. The family room window provides the egress for the bedroom basement floor level. THOSE ARE THE FACTS!


An egress window shall be openable from the inside without the use of tools, keys or specialized knowledge of the opening mechanism. The egress window shall not be covered with bars, locks or devices and features that obstruct direct access to the exterior. Unobstructed direct access from the egress window must be provided at all times.

In the diagram, window A meets the minimum dimension of not less than 380 mm. However, the size of the egress window does not meet the minimum standard of 0.35 square meter and would not be considered an acceptable egress under the Ontario Building Code. Window B and C satisfy the minimum requirements under the OBC.

WIndow Size


OBC (1) (b)
The egress window shall provide an unobstructed open portion having a minimum area of 0.35 square meters (542.50 in2 or 3.767 ft2) with no dimension less than 380 mm (14.96 inches).

OBC (2)
Except for basement areas, the window required in Sentence (1) shall have a maximum sill height of 1 000 mm (39.37 inches) above the floor.


Where window opens into a window well, a clearance of not less than 550 mm (21.65basement-window-coverings-outside inches) shall be provided in front of the window.

Where the sash of a window referred to in a Sentence (5) swings towards the window well, the operation of the sash shall not reduce the clearance in a manner that would restrict escape in an emergency.

Where a protective enclosure is installed over the window well referred to in Sentence (5), such enclosure shall be operable from the inside without the use of keys, tools, or specialized knowledge of the opening mechanism.


Now for the closet. After time spent researching the requirement for a closet in a bedroom, it is determined that a closet is irrelevant to define a bedroom. LET ME EXPLAIN! A closet can be added to any room by merely adding a wardrobe. Old homes, homes with a lofted bedroom, or homes with bedrooms were closets have been removed are reasons that a closet may not exist. Let’s think about this. Let’s say you have an open concept bedroom on the second floor, in a home or apartment, the type that overlooks the rest of the unit. Let’s say the bedroom does not have a closet. Would you advertise and market the apartment or home as no bedroom unit? Some realtors may think so, but that would be incorrect.

The good way for a Seller’s representative to protect the interest of their Seller client is to document in the MLS that no closet exists in the bedroom. The added benefit is the Buyer’s representative will have the opportunity to share this fact with their client and the prospective Buyer for whom a closet is essential will be informed up front and will not feel cheated if they show up to view the property only to find that there is no closet. It would also be prudent for the Buyer’s representative to add a representation clause in the Agreement Of Purchase And Sale to the fact that there is no closet in the bedroom


So there you have it…the often misunderstood Real Estate myth demystified. If in doubt, when undertaking a basement renovation that will involve a window, or whether an existing bedroom window meets the required safety standard requirements set out in the OBC, it’s always a prudent practice to discuss the matter with your municipal authorities as local and municipal requirements may differ.

SOURCES – National Building Code of Canada, Ontario Building Code, sherlockhomesinspections.ca, and Clayton Seymour, Building Inspector for Temiskaming Shores.

NOTES – National Building Code of Canada (NBCC), on which the Ontario Building Code (OBC) was formulated differ somewhat. Window size for egress is the same for both Codes. The significant difference is that a means of egress is required for each bedroom with the NBCC and only one means of egress per level is required with the OBC. The sill height, except for basement windows, for the NBCC from the floor to be no more than 1,500 mm (59 inches), while the OBC requires the sill height from the floor to be no more than 1,000 mm (39 inches)


The above Real Estate information on topic of discussion was provided by Marc Martin, Your Real Estate Guru! Marc created marcrealestateguru.blog site because of a need to provide a trustworthy, authoritative and a leading blogging home to “Keeping Real Estate…Real.” Its various insightful blogs will benefit Sellers, Buyers, Realtors and anyone interested in Real Estate. Genuineness, truthfulness and straightforwardness are the building footings for every article. Marc can be reached by email at marctherealestateguru@gmail.com or by phone/text at (705) 676-7799.

Marc has helped people move in and out of many homes in the Temiskaming Shores area and strives for perfection in every transaction. “I do more because you are worth more, and being a protector of my client’s interest is the single most crucial factor in my business!”

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