Installing Basement Egress Windows
LESLIE: John in Maryland, you’re listening to The Money Pit on WJFK. What can we do for you in your house?
JOHN: Hi. Well, we have a basement room we would like to turn into a bedroom, but we understand one of the requirements is that we must have an egress window in there, which currently all we have are these skinny little windows that are up very high from the floor. So our problem is we haven’t been able to find a source for windows that would be the same width – which is 29 ½ inches – and whatever the minimum height would be to meet the requirement, which we think would be about 43 inches. We’d like something that would be inward opening and yet allow you to escape.
LESLIE: The ones I’ve seen are double-hung windows and then the well itself is retro-fitted or premade as an egress system. I know there’s one company – Wellcraft – and they offer one that almost looks like a climbing out system. And I’ve even seen another one that looked like stacked up cinder blocks but it was, you know, premade so that when you open that window, you have a step to climb out.
TOM: Yeah, what you’re going to have to do is, basically, cut open that wall and reframe that block wall to be wide enough to take the new window. And you’re going to need a specially designed window well for that. So Wellcraft is one. There’s another one called SCAPEWELL. And they’re basically designed for this very purpose. They give you the device that you need to hold the soil back so that you can install a properly sized window. And they’re very deep and they’re structured so that they have almost like a step effect. So you can even put some plants on the step so you see a little bit of green out of that bedroom window.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it helps to open more light up into that basement room as well, so you’re not only giving safety but you’re giving, actually, the presence of outside to something that’s underground.
TOM: Yeah, not too long ago, Leslie and I were in Madison, Wisconsin building a Habitat for Humanity house and they actually had one of those installed there.
LESLIE: Yeah, because they had two bedrooms below grade, so both of those bedrooms had these egress windows. Another company is Boman Kemp. So those are three resources you could just start searching around online and find out vendors in your area.
TOM: Alright, John? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.