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Window Replacement Requirements

Do Window Replacments Require a Building Permit?

If any of the following conditions apply, a building permit is required to replace a window:

  • Window framing is altered - By definition, the window frame consists of the header, king stud, cripple stud, sill, and associated supports.
  • Existing flashing is altered - Such as when removing the nailing fin of an existing window.
  • Exterior wall finish is removed - For example, when removing stucco to remove a window.


Municipal Code 24.02.120-1-97

Windows on Historic Buildings

Whether or not a building permit is required, a Historic Preservation Permit is always needed to replace a window on a building that is listed on the City’s Historic Resources Inventory or that is located in one of the City Landmark Districts. Contact the Permit Center for information. Furthermore, requirements for energy, light, ventilation and egress must be accommodated as possible within the scope of work.

Requirements for All Window Replacements

Whether or not a building permit is required, the replacement window must conform to current construction standards, including:

Window Design

Even if the existing framing is not altered, the design of the replacement window must comply with current requirements for new construction as much as possible. When replacing a window that has become, for example, a noncomplying single-hung style, a new style must be chosen that is in compliance.

Window Size

The replacement window must meet size regulations that apply to new construction. This includes the egress size required for emergency exit. If installed in an existing frame, then the replacement window must meet the dimension standards as much as possible. Current sizing is summarized below:

  • All habitable rooms - Must have exterior windows with an area that totals a minimum of 8% of the room’s floor area of the room for light and totals a minimum of 4% of the floor area for ventilation.
  • All sleeping rooms and basements - Must meet these specifications:
    • Minimum 5.7 square feet opening*
    • Minimum height of 24 inches
    • Minimum width of 20 inches
    • Maximum height to bottom of clear opening of 44 inches

* In order to meet the required 5.7 square-foot opening, either the width or height or both must exceed the minimum dimensions shown. If bottom of clear opening is less than 44 inches above outdoor adjacent grade, then a minimum 5 square feet is acceptable.

Safety Glass

New glazing in existing openings must be safety glass if the opening is in a hazardous location as defined in current standards for new construction.

A pdf handout version of this information is available on our Building Handouts and Forms page.