We recently added an egress window to our basement and couldn’t be happier with the decision. I did quite a bit of research and wanted to share what I’ve learned and why we decided to add this feature to our home!
What is an egress window?
Egress windows are large openings that offer a secondary exit in case of an emergency. Here are a few dimensions that are compliant with the IRC (International Residence Code) that egress windows should comply with.
- The bottom of the window cannot be more than 44 inches from the floor.
- The complete opening of the window must be at least 5.7 square feet.
- The opening height must be at least 24 inches high.
- The opening width must be at least 20 inches wide.
- To allow the minimum required amount of natural light to come into the room, the window must have a glass area that is equal to at least 8% of the room’s floor area.
- To allow the minimum required amount of ventilation, the egress window must have an opening that is equal to at least 4% of the room’s floor area.
- Ladders are required on window wells deeper than 44″ and must be permanently attached. Ladder may encroach into well up to 6″.
- Grates or covers shall be removable without special tools.
Why would I want or need an egress window?
For us, we wanted to add value to our home & we wanted to add natural light to our basement. I think these are the main 2 reasons that you would want to add an egress window so let’s dive into both of these.
Adding Value: Our house was listed as a 4 bedroom house when we bought it. The addition of this egress window instantly allows us to market this additional room as a bedroom… adding an additional $21,000 in value (sharing more about that calculation in the cost section). In addition to needing an egress window, here are a few other requirements that you need to legally define a space as a bedroom.
- Size: a bedroom needs to be at least 70 square feet with at least 7 feet in any direction. It also needs ceilings at least 7′ tall.
- Means of Egress: A bedroom needs at least 2 methods of egress to the outside in case of a fire… one of which needs to be an egress window.
- Temperature Control: A room needs to have a heat source installed in a room. A window will suffice as temperature control for cooling.
Natural light is something that you cannot put a price tag on and can instantly make a space feel more inviting. My husband and I both spend a lot of time in our home gym so adding a window to let in the morning light was something we really felt very excited about.
How much does it cost and what’s the added value to your home?
The price for this entire installation was $5,500. This price included pulling permits, all materials, and labor. As noted below, I will have to do interior trim so that would be an additional cost. Your cost might be different in your area, but as I researched, this seemed to be consistent with nationwide averages. $3,000 seemed to be on the low end while I saw some installations as high as $8,000.
After crunching a few numbers and researching the value of this feature, we’ve added $21,400 to the value of our home!
I’m sure you are all wondering how I came up with this number so here’s the quick math. Adding a legal basement bedroom will typically translate to 50-70% of your above grade equivalent. For our area, the mean price of a home is roughly $122 per square foot. This room is 350 sq ft.
350 sq ft x $61 = $21,350 in added resale value.
With all the research I did, adding an egress window seems to be a feature that will guarantee a complete return on investment – and in some cases much more. How cool is that?
What to expect during the installation.
Let’s get to the installation and what you should expect if you were to decide on adding an egress window.
Here was this space on the day of installation. We have one tiny window that lets a little natural light in but I knew a full-size window would go a long way into making this room more bright and inviting. I will eventually close this little window off as the area above it will be our outdoor dining area and I would love to have french doors from our dining room that open up to it.
Day of installation! We waited about 2 months for our installation date. The company we used was called Concrete Cutters if you are local! I was really happy with the total process – including the extra steps they took to protect our grass by using these large wooden panels.
A lot of people have asked about rain build-up but they assured me the rain will sink into the ground just like it would at ground level. They put a hefty layer of gravel and rock around the insert for drainage which I failed to get a photo of! You will also notice that there is not a lot of dust or debris inside. There were lots of steps taken to make this really efficient!
This is what the egress wall looks like – I had the choice of grey or tan. We will be painting our house Revere Pewter with grey trim so I chose grey to go with our new exterior.
One thing to think about would be if you have any irrigation lines near your spot. The company we used had Diggers Hotline come out beforehand and mark the area to make sure there were no underground pipes that would pose a problem.
After. I may choose to get a fancier cover but I am going to wait and see what the landscaping will be in this area so that will be a “next season” project.
Close up of gravel and steps.
Let there be light! I can’t believe how much light came through the moment they cut open this space. You can see they had to cut through 10″ of concrete so this is definitely not a DIY job. They also added the header you see here to support the window.
Here is the finished window. The company I used does not include finish work on the interior so this will be something I tackle in the coming weeks. Note that the sill area is quite a bit wider than a traditional window.
Hopefully, this information was helpful in deciding if adding an egress window is a good investment in your home. I’ll make sure and update you as I finish off the interior and the rest of our home gym!