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Interior Bedroom Must Have an Opening to the Outside


Question: Mustn't all bedrooms have windows that lead to the outside? I'm interested in this one particular home, but the master bedroom's only window opens to another bedroom that was recently added on. Is there anything I should be concerned about structurally or otherwise? I don't want to wait until I'm in escrow and then find out there is a problem.

Answer: Yes, there most certainly is reason to be concerned. To begin with, the Unified Building Code states that every bedroom is required to have at least one window opening to the exterior of the dwelling, not an adjoining room. The purpose of this requirement is threefold:

* A bedroom must have a direct source of outside light, provided by a window that is at least 10% as large as the floor area of the room.

* A bedroom must have a direct source of outside ventilation, consisting of an opening window at least 5% as large as the floor area.

* Every bedroom must have a means of fire escape, directly to the exterior of the building, by way of a door or window that opens. Fire escapes to adjoining rooms are not acceptable. In the advent of a fire, that second room could conceivably be filled with smoke or engulfed in flames at the moment when escape becomes imperative. The only permitted means of escape is to the outside.

It is without question that the added bedroom on the home you're considering violates all three requirements. This indicates that the work was performed by someone lacking adequate construction knowledge. It also indicates that the work was performed without proper permits and was apparently never inspected by the proper authorities before receiving a certificate of occupancy.

This should be regarded as a "red flag" condition, warranting further investigation. When a few violations are readily apparent, others may likely materialize under closer scrutiny.

I would consider checking for unrevealed faults in the foundation, roof and electrical wiring; all items that if improperly installed could pose serious safety hazards.

There are many questions that should be asked of the owners before you even consider going to escrow.

Finally, if you have not already had the property professionally evaluated, I strongly recommend that you engage the services of an experienced, certified home inspector.

Tubs Linked to Voltage Must Have GFI Guards

Q: Please help me resolve a debate I'm having with a local electrician and a home inspector. I have a small business installing bathtub whirlpool systems. For added safety, I use plastic pipe to prevent electrical connections between the tub and pump equipment.

On several occasions, the electrician and the inspector have faulted my installations for lack of ground fault protection. I've explained to them that plastic piping cannot conduct electricity from the pump to the tub, but they insist that GFI protection is required. How can I convince them that these systems are safe without adding a GFI outlet?

A: Sorry to let you down, but the gold medal goes to the electrician and the home inspector. Ground fault interrupter circuits are designed to prevent injury or death from electric shock by shutting off the power when a short circuit occurs. Common sense demands this type of protection where bathtubs are connected to electrical equipment.

The use of plastic pipe to prevent electrical contact between a tub and pump seems practical at first glance, but you've overlooked a crucial consideration: The water itself can conduct electricity, unless you expect your customers to use distilled bathwater.

Dissolved minerals render water highly conductive, just like the liquid in your car's battery. If the pump should ever develop a leak, 110 volts could light up the water, with electrifying consequences to the unsuspecting bather.

The logical and practical solution is to install a simple GFI outlet in the power line to the pump. The additional cost for materials is about $10. By including this added protection for your customers, you will not only resolve your conflict with the electrician and the home inspector, but you'll also be in legal compliance with the National Electric Code.


If you have questions or comments, contact Barry Stone through his Web site at Distributed by Access Media Group.

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