Building codes require a basement bedroom has a window for fire escape purposes. At a minimum the bottom of the window must be no more than 44 inches from the floor and that the actual opening be a minimum of 20 inches wide and 24 inches high. Larger is better, not only to make escape easier but also to allow firefighters packing tools and breathing equipment to enter the area quickly.
If you’re considering a basement renovation as a way to expand your living space, don’t be surprised if your building-codes office has something to say about it, especially if a new bedroom is part of your plan. Without an egress window in case of fire, regulations simply won’t allow a basement bedroom. Because this ruling is fairly recent in many parts of the country, most existing basements were not built with egress windows. It’s a conundrum that could keep you cramped for space, with all the space you need right under your feet. Thankfully, you needn’t be restricted by the basement your house was built with.
You can solve the problem by cutting a large opening in a basement wall and adding a window that meets code requirements for egress. You’ll find contractors willing to do this work, often for between $2,000 and $3,000, or you might consider doing it yourself. About $500 and two days of work for two people will usually finish the job. While this is clearly a down-and-dirty project, there’s nothing particularly complicated about it, and the savings can be substantial.
What will you get for your investment? The added light let in by the new, deep window can eliminate the dark and dank atmosphere so common to earlier basement finishes. The sensory difference can be remarkable. In basements, more than anywhere else, light is a critical design element.
Of course, the primary benefit of a deep window is egress, an easily accessible opening through which you can escape or a firefighter can enter in the event of a basement fire. Basement fires are common, so this is really more than a code issue. And of course, what’s good for you will be good for the next owner as well. With an extra legal bedroom, you could recover 10 to 20 times your window installation costs when you eventually sell your home.
The condition of window frames tells a story about the condition of a home. People who take care of windows are likely to take care of the rest of a house. Being able to push a finger into a wooden frame means the wood is probably rotten. Condensation between the panes of double glazed windows indicates that the windows are faulty.
Double glazing is a process in which two panes of glass for a window have space between them. That space traps air between the panes and acts as an insulation layer. A drying agent that ensures no moisture is present is added before sealing the window. The windows must be airtight. Condensation between the panes indicates a leak. That problem cannot be repaired. The window must be replaced.
Nearly 60% of home heat loss occurs through single paned windows. Double glazing stops substantial heat loss. The cost of the double glazed windows often pays for itself in savings on heating and cooling bills. A ten to 12% savings is likely.
Double glazing is eco-friendly. Homes are responsible for almost 28% of carbon dioxide emissions. Replacing single pane windows reduces those emissions and combats energy loss. The windows also reduce internal condensation and noise pollution. This type of window provides added security to a home. Intruders enter through doors and windows. Double glazed windows are hard to break and have a locking system.