Egress Windows…They’re Safe…They’er Code!
“Basements by nature are usually dark spaces with small windows. It’s always been one of my goals to brighten-up my clients basements to the best of my ability!”
I usually start by adding an egress window if the basement does not already have one. Egress simply mean “the action of going out or leaving a place” and this has never been more profound than when it comes to basement finishing projects! Codes officials love this subject!
Egress can be controversial subject in that some area’s code departments require at least one egress exit out of your basement as part of the building permit inspection checklist, others don’t.
So how do you know if you need an egress exit in your neck of the woods? It’s simple to find out, just ask. Call the permit office and ask the head cheese in charge. I work in 6 different regions around my office and they all have a slightly different “take” on egress windows and doors…most want them installed in order to pass your building inspection. If I’m not sure if it’s required I’m calling and I’m asking.
This really isn’t a bad thing, it’s really a very good requirement! Why you ask? Well i’m glad you asked! Because…not only does an egress window create tremendous amounts of daylight down in your basement, it also gives you and your family a way out of the basement in case of a fire on the first floor that could trap you down in the basement!
Everybody should have an egress exit in their finished basement if at all possible. You can install a door as well, but windows are a lot easier to install and traditionally less expensive to install.
What will an Egress Window cost?
Depending on where you live, an egress window project will cost approximately $3,000.00 to $4,500.00 to install that’s labor and materials, if your subbing it out to an outside contractor. Do it yourself and your looking at $2,000.00 or so.
There are many different styles, sizes and manufacturers of basement egress window “systems”. Usually you will be purchasing an egress window kit which will include the window, egress window well, and an egress window well cover.
We use the Bowman Kemp 4′ x 4′ window unit with all of the supporting parts and hardware for a complete installation.
What will an Egress Door cost?
Again depending on where you live, a covered steel entry hood egress door will run you approximately $4,000.00 to $5,500.00 to have installed by an outside contractor that would include the door and the labor to dig the hole , cut the wall and install the door.
This requires digging the hole, cutting a hole in the basement wall and installing the exterior steel entry door, then setting the prefabbed concrete steps in the hole and bolting them to the house and finally install the “steel hood” structure to cover the steps.
A regular glass and steel insulated door installation with retaining walls structure to hold back the earth on each side with drainage system and concrete steps will run you approx. $ 5,000.00 to $7,500.00 or more! This is a beast of a project and is best subbed-out to an outside contractor who specializes in this type of work.
This type of egress door is prone to leaks at the door level due heavy rains that can flood the stairwell. A proper drainage system must be installed in front of the door at the base of the steps to assure a dry basement after installation!
Years ago you only needed an egress exit in your basement if you were putting in a bedroom, and that window had to be installed in the bedroom it’self. Now the current BOCA(Building Officials and Code Administrators International) code requires an egress window not only inside of a bedroom in the basement, but in the basement regardless of whether or not there is a bedroom. In other words if your finishing your basement…you got a have an egress exit…PERIOD!
Well that’s about it for egress exits, you should heavily consider installing one whether or not your pulling building permits or not. It’s in your family’s best interest to have that exit out of your basement in case of a fire.
If your interested in how this construction project unfolds, I shot some footage a few years ago of my guys installing an egress window check the video out below.
Good luck with your basement door projects. I’m always here if you have any questions about your basement project!