Basement Egress Windows

Basement egress windows provide a way to get out of the basement in case of emergency. Although older building codes did not require egress basement windows, you will need to follow current building code regulations if you are doing any renovations in your basement and will therefore be required to now include an egress as part of your basement remodeling plans. The codes are especially strict if you are planning on putting a bedroom in your basement.

“Egress basment windows aren’t a specific type of window in and of themselves, but rather a specific sized window that will be large enough to allow individuals to exit through in an emergency.”

Basics Of Basement Egress Windows

Egress basement windows also must allow for easy opening so that entry and exit and can be made quickly. Most building regulation codes require an egress in the basement of new homes or basement renovations, assuming the basement space is comprised of finished and habitable rooms. There are even stricter requirement if there will be a bedroom in the basement.

Egress Window Cost

Entry Level: $500 – $800 installed

Mid Range: $800 – $1200 installed

High End: $1200 – $1800 installed

The cost of an egress project will vary depending on the type of window you are installing and the level of difficulty involved in the installation. Casements, sliders and double-hungs are the most common options.

Installation Costs

Where the expense starts adding up is in the installation. This is because most basements are made from cement or concrete and cutting through the walls to install a window can be a huge undertaking. If you have more above-ground space, the upper part of your walls may be made from wood studs and sheetrock, making the installation far easier, and therefore, far less expensive. Unless you are simply replacing the window that was already installed, installing is not an easy DIY project.

Advantages Of Basement Egress Windows

The most obvious advantage to installing a basement egress window is safety. By having an emergency exit that is large enough to allow entry and exit, it makes your family and visitors safer since, if there is a fire, there is an easy and quick form of exit. Firefighters can also enter your home more easily in the event of a fire. Aside from the safety issues, however, egress windows can also make your basement more livable. They can add light, making the space brighter and also increasing its warmth due to the sunlight streaming in. In fact, since they make your basement look and feel more livable, it can add to the overall value of your home, so it is a good investment in your home’s value. Window wells outside of the window can also be used to house plants and flowers, adding to the aesthetic beauty of what you can see from the basement (assuming they don’t block the egress through the window).


The primary disadvantage of a basement egress is that it make your home more vulnerable to intruders. Since the window is by its very design large enough to fit a person through it, an egress makes for an easy target for criminals. It is also located at the ground floor, an easy place for intruders to enter. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you have installed secure locks and latches.

Codes And Requirements

Older building codes typically didn’t require an egress, but stricter requirements are now required. The International Residential Code, which creates minimum regulations governing one and two family residences, requires egress windows if you have a finished and habitable space or if there is a bedroom. The code also requires window wells outside the egress. The technical specifications for egress windows require that the opening be a minimum of 18″ wide by 30″ high. The windows need to offer an unimpeded opening of at least 5.7 sq ft. There are maximums set on the size of the windows as well – these are 54″ wide and 76″ high, and windows cannot exceed a maximum combined measurement of 108″. Basement egress windows must also be installed no more than 44″ above the floor.

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