Side Façade Window

“Can I Cut in a New Window on the Side of My Building?”

Adding a new window to the side of your building can be a risky venture. If you have a corner building and the window is on a public side street, your answer is yes, you can. If you own an interior building and your neighbor’s building does not go all the way back to the alley or full depth of the lot, your answer is most likely no. All the building officials I have worked with say no, unless you get a legal exception from the lot owner next door. If this window is a required egress window for you and your neighbor wants to add onto their building, they should have legal right to cover up your window. This will leave your apartment bedroom unusable. The second reason is that there should be a rated wall between you and all your neighbors. The natural makeup of the many layers of brick provide this rated assembly. Having a window that is not also a rated system will destroy this protection between buildings and lots. There is a rated window that you can purchase, but it is a costly item.

If your building has an existing opening in it with a window and you simply want to change out to new, I have always been able to do so. If it is within a certain distance of a roof next door, you will have to provide a rated window. Your window company should be able to help you determine if the window is required to be rated.

If you own the lot building next door, I recommend you consider the above situations as selling off the next door property might have an attached easement you will need to agree upon. Even if you own the neighboring lot, your local building official might not allow the windows, although I have had good luck depending on the nature of the inside space it is providing. If it goes to a living space, bathroom, or kitchen, it is more likely to be accepted than a required egress window for a bedroom.