DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

Basement Egress Requirement

2005 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  747
Hi All,

Hopefully someone out there can help answer my question. I am in the process of looking for a townhouse in south east Pennsylvania. A lot of the homes I have looked at have finished basements, but none have been walk-outs or have egress windows. As an example, one house built in the late 80s had the basement finished in 2006, would the owners have been required to put in a form of egress to be up to code? If I buy, am I going to be responsible to add an egress window at some point? If anyone out there can help to explain basement egress requirements to me that would be fantastic. Thanks in advance for your input.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Really need to be asking these questions down at your local building dept.
Requirements differ from area to area.
Highly unlikly there going to make you go back and add one now unless all this work was done without permits.
...but none have been walk-outs or have egress windows.
Have any of these had bedrooms downstairs?
None have had bedrooms in the basement.
If there's a closit down there they may now concider it a bedroom.
None have had bedrooms in the basement.
iirc... an egress windows (20x24 min?) was only required in bedroom spaces until a few years ago. Now, any finished basement must have at least one.
Our city considers that as long as you do not plan on using it as a sleeping area, you can get away without having to put one in. The majority of the places in my town, that are built before the whole Egress window thing took off, are grandfathered in, with even quite a few that did do sleeping areas under the radar, with no permits, but everything up to code (mechanical's, electrical, plumbing).

I know of one in particular that was just recently remodeled in the past three years, no permits, up to code, no egress, due to considered not really there, because the city does not know. Even if someone did go to our city, they would just say as long as the work was properly done, they do not care about it being finished.
I'll just refer to the part about whether you will be "responsible to add an egress window" at some point. As an owner, you're to some extent responsible for the safety of the people in your home, and if you knowingly exposed them to some risk, well yes, you'd bear some responsibility of something actually went wrong.

That's not what you mean, I think. You're asking, will the city force you to make expensive changes to your house? Well, building departments don't have the resources to run around just looking for problems. What prompts a notice of violation is generally one of several events - a new building permit for work in the code-violating area, a complaint (a neighbor who dislikes you tells the city you've just added a bedroom to your basement), a fire or an insurance claim caused by the out-of-code part of the home. On its own, the city won't show up and ask you to fix your basement. If they did, you'd also have the option simply to "unfinish" the basement.

If the work was permitted and to code at the time it was done, it's still legal. 2006 is pretty recent, of course.
See less See more
It depends on your municipality. Some can require several windows depending on square footage. Others may not. They also look at what its going to be used for. Example apartment would require more escape then just a hangout room in your house.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.