Does your home have a basement? How are you using it? If you’re just using it for storage, or for your laundry room, that’s fine. (It’s your house, use it how you want!) But if your basement doesn’t have an egress window, you’re not maximizing its full potential.
Acculevel has been repairing foundations and waterproofing basements since our start in 1996. Our mission is to help homeowners preserve and protect their greatest investment; we believe everyone deserves a healthy and safe place to live. Since Andy Beery founded the company, we’ve helped over 30,000 homeowners in our service area gain stability and peace of mind.
In this article, we’re going to explain how you can maximize your basement’s potential, add to your home’s resale value, and increase safety for you and your family. All it takes is an egress window.
What Makes a Basement Window an Egress Window?
An egress window is a window installed in your basement that also functions as an exit in case of an emergency. The window should be large enough for an adult person to pass through. It should also be no more than 44” off the basement floor; this height is low enough to allow a child to easily reach.
If your basement is below ground, there should be a window well around the egress window. This well should be designed to include steps or a ladder up the side, to help residents reach the surface.
This is a close-up of the window well; you can see the indents that create the “steps.”
For safety purposes, there needs to be a top on the window well. This keeps people from accidentally falling into the well and hurting themselves. In many cases, it’s a solid piece of fiberglass that keeps rain, snow, leaves, and other debris from getting into the well. This “lid” should not lock; the type Acculevel installs seals with industrial grade velcro to prevent the top from blowing away, while still allowing a child to push it up and exit.
Maximize Your Basement’s Potential
If your basement isn’t finished or partitioned into individual rooms, installing a single egress window promptly adds square footage to your home.
FYI: depending on regulations in your area, the square footage may be annotated as “below ground” square footage instead of included in the overall square footage.
How you use that added square footage is mostly up to you, but it can easily become your own gym or workshop. I say “mostly,” because the regulations change if you decide to finish part of the basement.
An Egress Window Can Add Value to Your Home
If you decide to finish your basement and separate it into rooms with doors, you may need more than one egress window.
For example, you can build a beautiful bedroom suite in your basement, but it won’t count as a bedroom- unless you install an egress window. In order to “count” as a bedroom, it must have two points of exit. The door out of the room is one- a window needs to be the other.
This is an example of an installed egress window, as viewed from outside the home.
An Egress Window is a Necessary Safety Feature
Ignoring all the real estate and home value benefits, an egress window provides a rarely tangible peace of mind. You can be confident that if the worst happens and your home catches fire, anyone in the basement has a reliable way to exit the house.
Of course, you’ll want to practice fire safety drills– especially with younger children. Make sure everyone is going to meet at the same place when they ‘escape,’ so you can account for everyone.
Does Your Basement Need an Egress Window?
If so, you’ll want to find a reputable local contractor that is insured and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Keep in mind that not all foundation repair companies offer this service; you may also have to check with window installers or general contractors.
Not sure how to find a quality contractor? We have some suggestions on who to ask for references, what resources are available, and what you should look for in a quality business.
We also have a detailed list of questions you should ask a contractor. The article includes Acculevel’s responses to these questions, as well as explanations for why we recommend these questions. You can also download a blank questionnaire for your use- free of charge.
If you live in Indiana or the surrounding area, contact Acculevel. We are a proud member of the BBB and provide free written estimates. Our knowledgeable and experienced project managers will offer you a whole-home solution to maximize your home’s potential and greatest quality of life.