G.S. from Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condo was built in 1985 and condo bylaws prohibit any external changes. In the process of finishing my basement, I want to change two set side-by-side small windows, each about 30″x20″, to one large about 60″x40″, which equals to 4 existing windows. My contractor told me that according to a current building code, I need to do this as a mean of egress. Trustees do not allow me to make changes, but I was told that building code supersedes condo docs. Who is correct here? Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
G.S., I am not an attorney so I cannot offer you a legal answer here. For a proper legal opinion, you should consult a qualified local attorney. I will say that since the documents forbid you from making changes, perhaps the easiest solution is to simply replace the 2 existing windows with like kind. I am guessing that solution would avoid the building code conflict. However, if that solution does not solve the problem, you will most certainly need a legal opinion to sway the Board. Regardless of state, building codes set the standard for construction and remodeling projects. Your contractor is right to point out where the code isn’t going to be met in any repair or replacement. It is up to your Board to determine how it will adopt to the code requirements. They cannot simply hide behind the original documents in lieu of adopting current code. That being said, if replacing the windows with like kind has no effect on code because the windows are simply being replaced versus resized, they may be able to hold you to the original window specifications. All the best!