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Old 09-11-2008, 07:01 PM   #1
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Keeping Egress Window Code Compliant


Hi, I'm in the process of having an egress window installed in my basement. We will be enlarging an existing window to accomplish this. I currently have 42" above grade on the outside of the house. Inside, however, in order to bring the window down to the required 44" from the finished floor, the window opening will have to be 4" below grade. So here are my questions:
1- Can I have an inward swinging egress window?
2- Since I'll be 4 inches below grade (but have plenty of clearance per standards), will the resulting window be compliant? (Like, does the exit space from the interior have to be equal to the amount of exit space on the exterior? - (if not, would installing a 6" aluminum base or something like that below the actual window opening work?)
3- If not, any solutions that don't involve re-grading the entire yard?
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4- And finally, Is an exterior window-well required when the window is only so slightly below grade?

Thanks so much, again.

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Old 09-11-2008, 07:55 PM   #2
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Keeping Egress Window Code Compliant


The inspector (and the codes) set the sill height as a requirement for egress or exit based on the height above the finished floor.

I have even heard of people not putting in carpeting until after an inspection.

It is a big thing when it comes to letting kids get out.

If you are concerned with the difference/acceptability of inswinging as opposed to outswinging, just check the codes. Since you are checking verify the height to the sill because there are some local differences.

When you go to sell, if your room does not have a legal egress, you may lose a lot of liveable area and get a lower appraisal value and blow a deal because of financing.

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Old 09-11-2008, 10:00 PM   #3
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Keeping Egress Window Code Compliant


1) The International Residential Code doesn't make specific mention of whether or not the window can swing in. Egress windows are typically double hung, sliding, or casement (outward swinging). Although I don't care for it, if the normal operation of the window involves it swinging inward, I don't think I could prohibit it. Judgement call for sure.

Why would you want it to swing inward? I'd be opposed to it because in an emergency or panic situation, an outward swinging window would be easier to get out of. That being said, I don't think I could stop someone from doing it.

2) Your egress opening can be located deep below grade. Several feet is not necessarily uncommon. If the distance from the bottom of the egress well is in excess of 44" below grade, a code compliant egress ladder must be installed on the side of the well.

4) A well is not specifically required, but you must have at least 6" of clearance between the ground and the siding, windows, and trim features of the home. You could do something with landscape blocks and gravel if you like.

When egressing the window, you must have a clear 36x36x36" space immediately outside the opening. The window can swing into that space and the ladder can encroach.
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