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Q.While trimming out a room during a remodeling job, the homeowner asked me to build a window seat. Does the window above the seat now have to be fitted with tempered safety glass?

A.Lynn Underwood, an engineer, licensed contractor, and building code official in Norfolk, Va., responds: The IRC contains a long list of hazardous locations where approved safety glazing — in the form of approved rigid plastic or laminated, tempered, heat-strengthened, or wired glass — has to be used. According to Section R308.4.7 of the 2006 IRC, the area above a window seat would be considered one of these hazardous locations for a window if all of the following conditions are true:

the exposed area of an individual pane is larger than 9 square feet;

the bottom edge of the glass is less than 18 inches above the floor;

the top edge of the glass is more than 36 inches above the floor;

there is at least one walking surface within 36 inches — horizontally — of the glass.

Because a window seat is typically used not as a walking surface but for sitting on, a window adjacent to a window seat probably wouldn’t meet these criteria. But the intent of the building code is to minimize the potential for falling into the glass under a variety of situational conditions (such as when surfaces are wet or slippery, for example). So in some jurisdictions, where the model building code has been amended to reflect local conditions and custom, it’s possible that some inspectors would require safety glass above certain window seats.

When in doubt, always check with your local building official for the final word.