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Egress Windows

Basement egress windows are used in hundreds of homes throughout the country as emergency exits that are now mandated by law. As a project, installing an egress window typically involves much more than simply a replacement window. They often require multiple steps that can be expensive to implement.

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Egress Window Basics

Building code regulations require that all homeowners that renovate thier basement and use it as a livable space must include an egress or emergency exit. Often, this is a door, but perhaps just as often this is a window - often a casement of horizontal slider. Basement egress windows must be easy to open and must allow a person to escape in the event of an emergency. The window has to be big enough for a person to get through quickly and easily.

Understanding The Codes and Requirements

There are certain criteria that must be met when using a basement as a habitable space in your home. Older properties didn't use to require basement egress windows, but anyone renovating a home basement will need to put an egress in place in order to meet the requirements set out.

According to the International Residential Code, any residence must have these windows in place if the basement is used as habitable space. Most cities and counties are exceptionally strict once the basement is used as a bedroom. This code also stipulates that homeowners must include a window well in addition to the window itself.

Project Costs

Egress window costs range from $1500 to $4000 for the entire project - the actual window is just one small part of what is typically involved with this process.

Entry Level Project: $1,500 to $2,500 Total

-- Mid Range Project: $1,500 to $2,500 fully installed --

-- High End Project: $2,500 to $4,000 fully installed --


Installation is very expensive for basements that do not have an egress already in place. Because not all properties have these windows already in place, many homes need to have a portion of the basement wall cut to make space for the opening. Wood framed walls are relatively easy to work with and often involve cheaper installation. For those basements with a concrete wall, the price can skyrocket as the installers must cut a hole through the concrete to make space for the window.

Safety Benefits

Safety is the biggest benefit that basement egress windows have to offer. Should there be an emergency in the home, a code compliant egress window can accommodate a person and offer them an easy exit.

Increased Light And Ventilation

In addition to the safety aspect, these basement windows also help brighten the room by allowing more natural light in. This is especially helpful because many basements lack sufficient lighting. In addition, a casement or slider window allows an added ventilation option to a basement and can make the space feel less stuffy.

Value Added To Your Home

Basement remodels offer excellent ROI because the space does not have to be added onto the home, which is typically quite expensive per square foot. A basement almost always already exists and renovating the space can be done in a cost effective way. Adding a playroom, game room, bar, man cave, lounge room, home theater etc. can be a big draw for potential buyers.


As with anything you buy these days, there are advantages and disadvantages. The one downside to having basement egress windows is that they make it easier for intruders to access your property. Because these windows are close to the ground and made to fit an adult person, criminals can target the property thinking it is easier to break in here as opposed to a more heavily trafficked room such as the living room window. The risk can be reduced through securit or, alarm systems and good quality locks, which should stop intruders in their tracks. For additional window pricing estimates, see our calculator page.

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