What is “egress” anyway? It’s from the Latin egressus “to go out from.” In other words – an Exit.

Today’s Building Codes require basements to have “egress” (an exit) but there are options available when building a new home. Each option has different characteristics and advantages.

One option is the  Basement Egress Window, the most recent entry into the market. It is designed for exit (not entry) and located a “regulated” distance from the floor for emergency exit. It generally has a sliding glass window to provide a “regulated” opening, and has a ladder (or steps) in an exterior well to get outside.  

Basement Egress Window

Basement Egress Window

Advantages include Flexibility (designed for below-grade use); Room Partitioning (including bedrooms) can be accomplished with multiple windows; Natural Daylight with a large window surface; Reasonable Cost – less that an exterior stairwell system; and perhaps Security because it is more hidden from view from the outside than a door and less appealing to a possible intruder.

Fine Line Homes, a Homebuilder in Harrisburg PA. provides a Basement Egress window in every home that has a basement and it is an included feature in its High Performance Home Package. They are popular and provide extra possibilites for the basement. Because egress windows are built into the foundation, it is best to plan ahead and have them installed with the original construction. 

Other options for basement egress include a Bilco Unit – a prefabricated concrete stairwell with a metal or vinyl swing door on grade. If lot grade allows for an exit door “on grade,” it is the simplest and most direct access. 

Remember, if you plan to partition the basement into separate rooms, you need to provide egress for each room. That can be accomplished with a egress window for each partitioned area/room.

Have any basement ideas or suggestions?

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