Basement Egress Windows
The house I am buying currently has 4 windows in the basement, but none are more than the standard 32x14. Inorder to have living space in the basement, I need to have an egress window. I understand that the window can be no smaller than 24"in one direction and 20" in another and needs to be 5' 7" sq ft of space. I also know the base needs to be 44" from the floor or less. The foundation is block, which I have heard is easier to cut into, so that should be helpful.
The questions I have are:
Does this window need a header if I use the width of an original window?
Can I cut it all the way down and put in a doorway instead?
What issue might I need to attend to doing this?
These would open to the side of my property, on a wall with no first floor windows. If I could go a doorway, the stairs would be placed against the house to not protrude into the house at all. The floor joists run parallel to the wall. There is a center steel beam, and each window is halfway between the beam and the front/back wall
An egress window needs to be IN any sleeping room.
Sleeping room means a space over X sq ft with a door.
If you keep the same width no structure needs to change (what I was told when I did mine by 2 GC's). I put a window into my basement, for the purpose of egress from a sleeping area. One thing I can tell you is to have proper drainage. My window well area extends 2+ feet deeper than the edge of the window and then was filled with large rock and then smaller gravel to provide drainage. I did this after the clay held water and flooded into the room about a week after putting the window in. I also ended up redirecting some downspouts and building in some steps into the stone window well, to make it easier to climb out in an emergency.
SECTION R310 EMERGENCY ESCAPE AND RESCUE OPENINGS
R310.1 Emergency escape and rescue required. Basements, habitable attics and every sleeping room shall have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening. Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, emergency egress and rescue openings shall be required in each sleeping room. Where emergency escape and rescue openings are provided they shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the floor. Where a door opening having a threshold below the adjacent ground elevation serves as an emergency escape and rescue opening and is provided with a bulkhead enclosure, the bulkhead enclosure shall comply with Section R310.3. The net clear opening dimensions required by this section shall be obtained by the normal operation of the emergency escape and rescue opening from the inside. Emergency escape and rescue openings with a finished sill height below the adjacent ground elevation shall be provided with a window well in accordance with Section R310.2. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.
Exception: Basements used only to house mechanical equipment and not exceeding total floor area of 200 square feet (18.58 m2).
R310.1.1 Minimum opening area. All emergency escape and rescue openings shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 square feet (0.530 m2).
Exception: Grade floor openings shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5 square feet (0.465 m2). R310.1.2 Minimum opening height. The minimum net clear opening height shall be 24 inches (610 mm). R310.1.3 Minimum opening width. The minimum net clear opening width shall be 20 inches (508 mm). R310.1.4 Operational constraints. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge.
Make sure the windows installed have the manufacturers sticker on them that state they are certified egress windows. - It eliminates any questions during future inspections. You will probably want it to be a permitted modification since the approval is worth its weight in gold if you go to sell (more legally usable square footage, so a higher square footage, higher selling valuation and more money for buyer to finance if they need it).
Some localities may require a 42" maximum height to the bottom of the clear opening. It is good to check the local requirements before proceeding with construction because a locality has the right to tighten the model code requirements.
When taking out a window and putting in a door in a basement you have to make sure the wall is strong enough as you are now cutting it right apart at the door. Also need to deal with moisture at the bottom of the stairwell outside the door.
Will it have a roof over it? Enclosed?
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