Basement Egress Windows – Understanding Code

Basement Egress Windows

Turning your basement into a living space is like building an extension to your home. This extra living space is ripe with possibilities. You can turn it into just about anything you can imagine.

Understanding Building Code

When converting a basement into a living space, it is important to take building codes into consideration. Although code differs from one state to another, a majority of the communities in the US have adopted the International Code Council (ICC) standards to govern building regulations. This nonprofit organization is known for publishing codes and requirements that guide the construction and design of residential dwellings.

One of the many requirements that building codes have for basements that are used as living spaces is to ensure that they have emergency openings for rescue or escape. Basement egress windows play the double role of letting light into the space and acting as emergency openings.

Requirements for Windows

You will find a wide variety of basement egress windows available in store and through online suppliers. However, as you make your choice, it is important to keep the requirements for egress windows at the forefront.

  • Requirements for orientation

Egress windows act as emergency exits for escape from the house. They therefore should open to the outside. They should also be designed to open easily. They should not be designed to use tools or keys to open. This ensures that they do not cause an obstruction in case of an emergency.

  • Requirements for openings

The window opening should be large enough for an adult to crawl out of in case of an emergency. The opening into which the basement egress windows are installed should be no less than 20” wide and 24” high. The windows should provide a clearance of at least 5.7 feet once installed.

  • Requirements for window sills

Window sills should be no higher than 44” from the floor.

It is important to determine the actual requirements of the building codes in your area before you begin searching for windows for your basement. This will ensure that you won’t be spending more money on replacing them after an inspection.

There are various manufacturers and suppliers online. A great way to source windows for your basement is by choosing a local supplier that understands the building codes and requirements in your area. Ensure that you are provided with a warranty. You should also ensure that you have professionals install the window for the best results.