Buyer's Edge -5 Top Things You Should Know About Egress Windows Before You Start a Basement Renovation

Many homebuyers in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland working with the exclusive buyer's agents at Buyer’s Edge often anticipate that they may have to do some renovations on their new home after they buy it. Sometimes a new home may only require a few minor changes like new paint colors, window treatments or refinishing wood floors.  Other properties may require large-scale projects like complete kitchen and bathroom renovations. One of the most popular upgrades is a basement renovation.  There’re a lot of things to consider when calculating the costs and benefits of doing such a renovation.  One important safety issue that we remind our buyer clients when taking on a basement project is not to forget about putting in an egress window.

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Top 5 Things to Know About Egress Windows in the Basement

 1.  What is an egress window and why do I need one?

Basement egress windows are designed to be large enough and low enough to allow residents to exit the basement easily in case of an emergency.

 2.  Does code require all basements to have an egress window?

NO, not necessarily for a basement without a bedroom.  But as far as we know, all code departments require two means of egress from any basement bedroom - one of which may be a proper egress window. 

 3.  What’s the cost of adding an egress window to a basement renovation?

Installation costs can vary widely depending on if you need to dig into the ground and how deep you need to go. The egress windows themselves come in many different options. They start at around $500. With labor costs and materials an egress window installed in a basement will run you at least $1500.

4.  What is the size requirement of an egress window in the basement?

In our area there is a requirement that the glazing related to the window be 8% of the size of the square footage of the room. So in the case shown in the video below, the room was 155sf and the window then needed to be 12.4 sf (155 x .08).  This may vary per jurisdiction - check with your local code enforcement office. In this case each side was basically 2' x 3' and able to open all the way. From the window sill to the finished basement floor must be a maximum of 44”.

 5. What are the requirements for the size of the egress window well?

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Nice Built In Stairs

The window well must be large and low enough to be able to crawl out after exiting the home from the window. If the sides of the window well aren’t low enough then ladders or steps must be built in to allow occupants to get out of the window well easily.  A drain also must be installed to permit water to drain to the daylight or to drain into an approved sump pump. 

Need to know more? Take a look at the Buyer's Edge Video on egress windows with Marshall HendersonSteve Mercer and