Whether you buy or build a home with an unfinished basement, you tuck away the knowledge that one day you could finish the space off in order to add to your home's overall square footage. That piece of information, however, is only partly true. If you don't have an egress window, you will need to excavate one.  

What makes a window an egress window?

Windows come in all shapes and sizes. Some open to let in a breeze, and some are strictly for appearance. An egress window is a window that opens and is large enough for a person to escape if there is a fire or other emergency. 

Does your basement need an egress window?

Being able to escape is especially important in a basement. Without an egress window leading directly to the outside, the only means of escape is to attempt to head back up the basement stairs, which could be blocked. 

Why do you need an egress window in a basement bedroom?

Having an egress window in the basement is a wise choice. When you are referring to basement bedrooms, however, it is the law. While every county has different regulations, over 90 percent of the United States adheres to the International Code Council's recommendation that an egress window is excavated for every bedroom located in a basement. 

Is it better to excavate for an egress window when you are building or later?

If you are building a new home, talk to your builder and your excavation contractor about digging an opening for a basement egress window at the same time they dig the basement and the rest of the foundation. Even if you do not plan on using your basement space until years in the future, having the excavation done now is easier and more economical.

How do you excavate for an egress window when remodeling a home?

If you are remodeling an existing home and need to install an egress window in your basement, it is still possible. Your contractor simply needs to excavate along the side of your home in order to reveal the area of your foundation wall that needs to be removed. They will then either build a window well with concrete blocks or use a pre-fabricated unit to hold back the dirt. A large window specially designed to be easy to operate in an emergency is placed in the opening. 

Performing the excavation work during the remodeling process is more time-consuming and expensive, but it is possible to install an egress window. 

Knowing what an egress window is, why you need one, and how to excavate \one is important for your safety.