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  #1  
Old 06-01-2006, 08:11 PM
zhencai zhencai is offline
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Bay area, CA
State: California
Professional Status: Certified Residential Appraiser
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Default Security bar release

Anyone knows the windows security bar release requirement? Or where can I find it? A property is in a not-very-safe area and has windows bars on all the windows. Owner has bar releases in the 3 bedrooms not not in living and family room. Is it OK? Lender is questioning on this. Thanks for any advice.
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  #2  
Old 06-01-2006, 08:13 PM
Randolph Kinney Randolph Kinney is offline
 
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Location: SoCal
State: California
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You can do a google search for the exact law. California only requires release mechanisms on bedroom windows.
  #3  
Old 06-01-2006, 08:25 PM
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Smokey Bear Smokey Bear is offline
 
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Location: The "OC" in Republican Land (Oh no!)
State: California
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Default

I had to ask my local fireman, here's a good link for California. http://www.fire.ca.gov/php/education...urity_bars.pdf,

http://www.bpcnet.com/cgi-bin/hilite..._WINDOW_S.html

and http://www.sanjoseca.gov/building/PD...curityBars.pdf

Don't forget to check security doors - they CANNOT be double cylinder, only single cylinder (meaning keyed on the outside, and turn knob on the inside). I take a picture of the inside of all security doors for my records, as well as quick releases, or lack thereof. If they don't have a quick release I mention it on page 1 as a health and safety hazard in all caps, and appraise it subject to removal or correction.
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  #4  
Old 06-01-2006, 08:33 PM
Denis DeSaix Denis DeSaix is online now
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Northern California
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In California, a bedroom has to have (at a minimum) two exit paths, one of which leads directly to the outside (this is one reason why a house cannot "technically" have a bedroom in the middle of the improvement surrounded by other rooms). The doorway is one exit. A window is typically the second exit. The "window" needs to be
1. Of a certain dimension so a normal person (Ok, even a little "bigger" than normal person like me!) can crawl out.
2. The window needs to be
A. Unobstructed.
B. If obstructed by security bars, then those security bars need to have a safety release mechanism that requires "no special instruction or knowledge" to operate from the inside; such as
  • A pull chain.
  • A kick or push-plate.
  • A simple lever device.
The release system cannot be "key operated" with a special key (on a lock).

A bedroom can have a door, and two windows (assume all windows are leading to the outside): One has security bars with no safety release system, the other security bars with safety release system. Therefore, this bedroom has two qualified exists (doorway and window with safety release system).

Same bedroom, both windows have security bars without safety release mechanisms; thats a fire code violation.

Same bedroom, one window with security bars & no safety release, the other window without any security bars/obstructions. This bedroom has two unobstructed exits, and is fine (even though one of the windows has security bars without releases, there is another window to use as an escape).

Remember, the critical issues are:
A. Bedrooms.
B. Two unobstructed fire exits.
C. A window with safety bars can be considered as a fire exit if there is a safety release system that isn't key operated, padlocked, require some code or secret handshake/training/information or special tool to operate.

Finally, I never "condition" my reports that these items must be fixed; if the bedroom has a window with security bars, I simply note if there is a safety release mechanism present or not and take a photo of it. I leave it to the lender to decide what to do from there. I recommend that when you find a bedroom with security bars, you photo the window, indicate its location on the sketch, and be very clear in your report if a safety release mechanism exists, and if there is another window (or, second door going to the outside) available for use as an exit from the bedroom.

Good luck.
  #5  
Old 06-01-2006, 08:47 PM
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Couch Potato Couch Potato is offline
 
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State: North Carolina
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Question Why is this your problem?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zhencai
Anyone knows the windows security bar release requirement? Or where can I find it? A property is in a not-very-safe area and has windows bars on all the windows. Owner has bar releases in the 3 bedrooms not not in living and family room. Is it OK? Lender is questioning on this. Thanks for any advice.
You accurately reported what was present, correct? You arrived at an opinion of value and described the property for the lender. The rest is their decision. If they want further research, go ahead and do it if you want, but I would expect to be compensated for such work. You, of course, can run your business as you see fit, but I am opposed to working for nothing.
  #6  
Old 06-01-2006, 09:52 PM
zhencai zhencai is offline
 
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Location: Bay area, CA
State: California
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Default

Thanks a lot! You guys are great!
  #7  
Old 06-02-2006, 08:13 AM
George Hatch's Avatar
George Hatch George Hatch is offline
 
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Location: Carlsbad, California
State: California
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Default

The Uniform Building Code includes requirements for interior releases on bedroom windows.

This is one of the few things I always condition for - this is a safety hazard that can literally mean the difference between life and death. Every winter it seems like there's an average of one story a week of a family dying because they are unable to get out of their homes during a fire. Sometimes the firefighters are standing right there and are unable to get to the victims in time. I don't want anything to do with that and I'm not going to subject my client to the liability for that. If the client is dumb enough to waive the stip that's their decision. Besides, it's a realtively easy and cheap fix.
  #8  
Old 06-02-2006, 08:59 AM
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Nancy Heiss Nancy Heiss is offline
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Orange County CA
State: California
Professional Status: Certified Residential Appraiser
Posts: 370
Default OREA Answer

I had the same question just a few weeks ago. I called OREA and they told me a security bar release policy was determined by each city. I called the City of Pomona who in turn referred me to the Fire Department.

BTW, the guy at OREA thought I was a real idiot. I had also asked him if there was one particular website that would list all the zoning codes since each city seems to make up their own. He spent quite a bit of time on the phone with me, even getting off my original questions and talking about cost estimating information. He steered me towards several different websites.

I still keep waiting for some sort of "you're an idiot" letter to show up from OREA....
  #9  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:14 AM
Brad Ellis Brad Ellis is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
State: California
Professional Status: Certified Residential Appraiser
Posts: 2,551
Default

zhencai,

Some areas cover this by law and others do not.

The reason for disclosure is based on health/safety concerns. If a lender fails to stip for quick release latches or other quick escape avenues, they could possibly be held liable if someone got hurt.

Normally, these latches are required by lenders in all non-public rooms- i.e.- sleeping areas. If a fire starts when you are asleep and it blocks your other way out, it could really hurt! Of course, living/family rooms and kitchens could find someone sleeping there, but normal use is to use those areas while awake; hence the selection by some lenders of installing such latchs only on bedrooms.

Take a photo and disclose this in your report. Your lender will then tell you what they need- normally they wwill advise the borrower, seller, RE broker or mortgage broker of the need to install them and then you will usually be called back for a final inspectin.

Do not forget photos!

Brad
  #10  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:22 AM
Randolph Kinney Randolph Kinney is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: SoCal
State: California
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Hatch
The Uniform Building Code includes requirements for interior releases on bedroom windows.

This is one of the few things I always condition for - this is a safety hazard that can literally mean the difference between life and death. Every winter it seems like there's an average of one story a week of a family dying because they are unable to get out of their homes during a fire. Sometimes the firefighters are standing right there and are unable to get to the victims in time. I don't want anything to do with that and I'm not going to subject my client to the liability for that. If the client is dumb enough to waive the stip that's their decision. Besides, it's a realtively easy and cheap fix.
I have had 442 inspection mandated by the underwriter after calling it out in my appraisal report. Usually, the bars are removed from the windows and I photograph the window without security bars and send in the 442.

I am sure some of these buyers have the security bars put back after closing without release mechanisms.

Here is a PDF on the subject:

http://www.fire.ca.gov/Education/pdf/security_bars.pdf

It is a requirement by California law for the seller to disclose information about security bars.

http://www.dre.ca.gov/disclosures.htm
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