Tom Shafer

Windows in Apartments and Condos. Are they OK?

October 19, 2016

When moving into an apartment or condo, you probably look at the amenities: pool, exercise room, counter tops, appliances. But ignore the windows. Windows may be more important than you realize because they control the dwelling's comfort and safety.

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Surprisingly, apartment and condo windows can be as good as those in expensive homes. Here's why:

Window building requirements

Window contractors for large projects, such as apartment or condo buildings, must often adhere to requirements that are many times more exacting than those associated with single homes.

In order to get funding, most multi-family projects have to meet local and even national building codes. Consider window glazing: Energy Star requirements for windows vary by geographical location. Energy Star in the South Central zone requires a minimum "u value" of .30 and a solar heat gain coefficient equal to or less than .25.

Theoretically, new home construction should meet the same criteria, but local codes can supersede national and Energy Star codes. I have seen many times, windows meeting a minimum .33 u value installed in homes.

The same can be said for tempered glass. Tempered glass has been heated and quenched rapidly. The result is that when broken, it dissolves into tiny pieces. Non-tempered glass breaks into sharp shards, dangerous or even lethal to people.

Tempered glass is required within certain distances from the floor, over bath tubs, on porches, and certain distances from doors. In multi-family buildings, there is strict compliance. So much so that I have seen glass or sash changed on many apartment and condo windows to satisfy regulations.

In singly-family residences, bathtub codes are not always enforced. Rarely is there enforcement of window codes with regard to door and porch proximity.

Apartment and condo window advantages

Glazing and tempering are  two examples of multi-family window installations sometimes being of better quality than windows in single-family residences. Congratulate yourself if you live in a condo or apartment.

Ask your window contractor about the quality of the windows in your home and find out whether or not you should consider upgrading your windows over time.


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