Can You Add An Egress Window To A Basement?

Properties tend to need egress windows to follow strict building codes, although some residential or commercial establishments may not have egress windows in their basements upon purchase. So the question is, can you add an egress window to a basement? We've done the research, and here’s what the experts have to say.

You can add an egress window to a basement. But you'll need to get the right tools and follow the correct steps to install the opening properly. Also, take note that it’s possible to complete this project without professional help. However, the risks of error might be greater than usual if you choose to do it yourself.

Calling for expert help to install an egress window to a basement can promote peace of mind. But if you choose to go this route, you will have to pay extra for labor. Continue reading as we tackle important information about adding egress windows to basements, including a step-by-step installation guide.

incorporating an egress window to a basement construction. glass panel for an egress window. Can You Add An Egress Window To A Basement

How To Install An Egress Window In A Basement

Egress window installations require the right tools and steps. Moreover, it’s a project that might not be possible to finish in a day. Completing this assignment can take 2 days to 3 weeks depending on the challenges faced during the project.

An Egress Window In A Basement

In this section, we'll talk about the tools needed for the project and the steps to follow for optimal results.

What You’ll Need

  • Masking tape
  • Concrete saw or circular saw
  • Diamond blade
  • 4-lb hammer
  • Brick chisel
  • Caulk
  • Drill
  • Masonry bit
  • Screws
  • Egress window kit

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Mark the window outline with masking tape.
  2. Use a concrete saw with a diamond blade or a circular saw to drill a pilot hole.
  3. Use a level at the pilot hole and mark the extensions from the center for the window to have a proper alignment.
  4. Cut the wall with a circular saw. The result should be a hole with a ½-inch depth. Do a second pass with the circular saw to complete the cut.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 at the exterior side of the basement. Both sides should be aligned.
  6. Break the blocks with a 4-lb. hammer. Work your way from the top to the bottom.
  7. Smoothen the opening’s frame with a brick chisel.
  8. Fill the open cores of the blocks with concrete.
  9. Install the window sill before building the rest of the egress window’s frame.
  10. Create screw holes with a drill and a masonry bit. Add appropriately sized screws to anchor the frame to the concrete blocks.
  11. Seal the frame with exterior caulk.
  12. Install the rest of the window and wall finishes.
  13. Apply more caulk to the window’s edges for a secure seal.
  14. Wait from 30 minutes to a day for the caulk to dry and cure.

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How Hard Is It To Install An Egress Window?

Man replacing the old pebbles in an egress window in the basement of his house during spring maintenance

Egress window installation is possible as a DIY project. For instance, installing an egress window in a wood-frame wall may not require special tools or structural requirements.

But installing an egress window on a masonry wall can be more challenging than average for DIY beginners and is best left to professionals, as it requires excavating around the basement wall’s exterior. Moreover, cutting through the masonry wall needs special equipment.

Still, DIY beginners may attempt to install an egress window in a masonry wall without the help of professionals. However, the job requires tools like a circular saw to cut cinder blocks. And the job can become messy without a proper understanding of how to use these tools.

But it’s still possible to make the job easier than expected by buying and installing a factory-made window well instead of building one from scratch.

Moreover, a window well installation for a connected egress opening should have a cover to prevent rainwater from entering the space. For more information about that topic, read through this post: Water Leaking Into The Basement After Heavy Rain – What To Do?

What Qualifies As An Egress Window?

Air conditioning system assembled on performing preventive maintenance in a window well for basement

Egress windows serve as emergency escapes and rescue openings. These windows aren’t like certain windows that may not need to be up to code. Egress windows need to follow the standards presented by Section 310 of the International Residential Code (IRC).

The following are some of the requirements for legally acceptable egress window setups.

Minimum Size Requirements

  • The net clear opening area needs to be at a minimum of 4 square feet.
  • The net clear height opening needs to be at a minimum of 22 inches.
  • The net clear width opening needs to be at a minimum of 20 inches.

Window Well Size

Egress windows in basements should open to a well that serves as extra protection and an easy escape route during emergencies. The well should have an area of at least 9 square feet. Another option is for it to have minimum dimensions of 36 x 36 inches.

Click here to see this egress window guard on Amazon.

How Much Does It Cost To Add An Egress Window To A Basement?

HomeAdvisor estimates the costs to install an egress window in a basement to be between $2,535 and $5,296. Still, the overall fees can depend on factors like the number, size, and type of egress window installed. Professional labor costs may also increase the fees beyond that average price range.

Below is a quick list of the types of egress windows that you can install in your basement along with each type’s average price range:

  • Casement ($200 to $500): Uses a hand-crank to open the window.
  • Horizontal/sliding ($150 to $700): It has a sliding mechanism built for fairly narrow window wells.
  • Single-hung ($100 to $400): A relatively common option that opens on one side vertically.
  • Double-hung ($250 to $500): Slides at its top and bottom.
  • In-swing: ($350 to $700): Ideal for reasonably old basements with small window frames thanks to its design that opens inward.

Does An Egress Window Add Value To A Home?

Adding an egress window can add extra value to a home. Research indicates that above-grade bedrooms with egress windows can increase the property’s value by about $8,000 to $10,000 in certain real estate markets.

For instance, American homes have an average price of about $119 square feet in 2019. Adding an egress window to the home can increase the dwelling's resale value by about $7140 to $9,996.

Does A Basement Need Two Exits?

A basement may or may not need two exits, depending on the setup. A basement that doesn’t have living quarters, such as a storage or home office, doesn’t need two exits, as explained by International Code Council (ICC) expert, Marc Nard.

However, Section 1026 of ICC’s 2006 International Residential Code for One- and Two-Story Dwellings states that basements with sleeping quarters need to have at least one rescue opening and an exterior emergency escape. Also, these exits should directly lead to a court, yard, or public way.

For more information about the legal standards of basements, check out this other post: Are Basement Apartments Cold? Are They Cooler In Summer?

In Closing

Prepare for an egress window installation in your basement by gathering the necessary equipment. Then, make sure to follow the correct procedure and be patient with each step to avoid making costly mistakes. Otherwise, call for professional services from the start to gain peace of mind.

If done properly, you should enjoy satisfying results in installing your basement egress window.

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