What is an Egress Window and Why is it So Important?
Anyone who watches home improvement programming has heard the phrase “egress window” but not many people know what is involved to install one or why it is so important. What is an egress window exactly? How much does an egress window installation cost? Why do I need it? These are very valid questions home owners should ask when considering any type of construction and design services.
If you are considering renovating your basement to bring it into this decade or you want to finish your basement to add more livable square footage, as well as add value to your property, you should strongly consider adding an egress window for safety. Many local governments also have egress requirements where obtaining permits may be necessary. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself on the process and hire a general contractor like Go Pro Construction that has a extensive experience in this type of construction, in addition to their knowledge of local codes and laws. It is also important to take into consideration all the costs associated with installing egress windows when planning your remodeling or renovation budget. It is also a good idea to set aside a contingency fund, because if your work is structural, unforeseen expenses may also come up.
What is an Egress Window?
More often than not, egress windows are located within a home’s basement. They basically serve as a basement escape window in case of a house fire or some other type of emergency situation where an evacuation of the home is necessary. Egress window codes differ by geographical location, so you definitely want to check what the specific code requirements are for your city/county in order to determine what the exact definition of an “egress window” is in your municipality.
Egress windows not only provide you with piece of mind, just in case the unthinkable happens, but it also serves to provide you with large amounts of natural light every day in a space may have been previously darker than the other floors of your home or had no windows at all. Natural light always adds benefit to any space, but in the case of a basement it also adds value.
What are My Options?
You have probably seen different types of egress windows, whether in your neighborhood or on television. Each type has its own “look” so we highly recommend that you think about the placement of these windows and whether or not their location could potentially change the overall look of your home and share any concerns about “curb appeal,” for example, with your general contractor to ensure that you will be happy with the final product once everything is installed.
Whether your home’s overall outside aesthetics are very important to you or not, there are a few options within the marketplace. You can buy egress window kits or window wells that are decorative and many “big box” retailers sell a few options.
Many window wells are steel, but there are other options on the market that are pre-fabricated as a less expensive option. These “off the shelf” products serve their purpose exactly as they should. If safety is your main focus and your budget is a close second, these options are budget-friendly and functional, and therefore may be a good fit for your project.
If your home’s overall appearance is just as important to you as safety and you are willing increase your budget to have the addition of egress windows to your home fit in with your personal style, there are custom options available for you.
For clients who are aesthetically motivated, we always study their home. Is there a lot of brick? Wood? Stack stone? Blue stone? Pavers? When clients care about the look just as much as the function, it is absolutely necessary to take into account the materials used in that house, as well as what is present or lacking within the entire neighborhood. These observations allow us to better guide our clients to make decision on finishes that we know will complement the look of the home (and the whole neighborhood) while adding a key safety feature.
What Does it Take to Install an Egress Window?
Egress window installation is a complicated process that involves skilled professionals and tradespeople. Structural work, like cutting into a house’s foundation; or high-level plumbing work like installing French drains for proper water drainage; or skilled masonry work like building a wall – all to code – and that is all if there are no structural or plumbing issues that are discovered and also need to be address along the way. These type of projects are usually far outside of most people’s DIY skills and comfort level. To ensure it is done right and to code, this is a job best left to reputable general contractor.
Steps and Topics to Consider When Installing an Egress Window
Here are the general steps that need to be taken in order to properly and safely install egress windows at a residence:
- Contact your electrical and gas companies and ask them to come out and mark your property’s electrical and gas lines (as applicable)
- Secure all locally required permits
- Excavate dirt in order to dig a trench along the area where the egress window will be installed
- Excavation and plumbing professionals need to ensure egress window drainage flows away from the house, using French drains
- Take advantage of the fact that during this process, your foundation will be exposed, so it is the best time to check for waterproofing or any other potential foundation issues. If any are found, tackle them head-on and find out what your contractors are doing to resolve them.
- Cut foundation for windows
- Add header for windows
- Install windows
- Frame out windows on the exteriors
- Add rocks, or similar material, to bottom of the window well
- Install river rock, or similar material, in window well and mortar
- Backfill dirt to the window well
- Regrade the outdoor area affected by the egress window installation for water drainage
- Reseed or re-sod your yard, if necessary
- Frame out windows on the interior
What Does it Cost to Install Basement Egress Windows?
The costs associated with installing egress windows can vary dramatically based on location, availability of supplies, labor costs, the number of windows being installed, the amount of excavation necessary, the amount of structural work (are we enlarging windows or creating a window in a space where there wasn’t an opening before), and the types of materials and finishes a homeowner chooses for aesthetics. We have had clients pay $7,000 and clients that have paid $40,000.
“Big ticket” items include the scale of excavation, structural work, enlarging windows, and any custom work with custom materials to fit a non-standard space or a specific design aesthetic
Whatever your project entails, your contactor is your partner throughout it all. We are the experts to advise you on the best course of action to meet your goals – whether its just about safety and function or safety and aesthetics or making an investment in your property that will demand a higher sales price when you go to market.