Basement egress costs

qdognjMarch 8, 2007

I need to have an egress that meets code to have the privlege of finishing my basement..My 1st quote for a Bilco cut into existing poured concrete foundation,with precast steps bolted to foundation with a 36" door at entry to basement--$5200

For a "walkout" egress with a 6' double door entry--$10,700

Any opinions of what type of egress is better? and what about the prices? Live in Philly area

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Which is "better" is all up to you.

Don't know about your specific situation, but here in Wash DC/N. VA I had a concrete cutting service that specializes in egress windows do ours for under $4000 total. Included some digging, cutting poured foundation wall, framing, Andersen double hung window + window well. I could have gone with the Scapewell, but went with the Bilco well w/ ladder instead.

I would suggest finding a local Bilco or Scapewell distributor that keep them in stock (meaning they sell a lot). Call and ask for a couple names of contractors that work with them often and go from there.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 4:32PM
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Bilco egress system in Huntington, NY ran $5500.00. Poured concrete foundation, Andersen Double hung window, ladder system, etc.. Price point for a metropolitan area seems in line. Calling a few more contractors can't hurt.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 6:44PM
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We are in Arlington and have our basement well underway in terms of the remodel. We are not pulling permits but we are doing it to code (as much as possible, as the ceiling is 2 inches too short).

Why go with the Bilco? If I buy a casement window and the contractor installs it and we install an appropriate well, what is the point/reason of having the more substantial Bilco/Scapewell system.

I can get the well dug for about $300 and the contractor can cut the wall as part of our deal so all I need to purchase is the appropriate window.

Can you help?

Andrew in DC/VA

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 10:54AM
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andrew, you bring up a great point about "real" costs..I have 2 basement windows,however, both have utility lines directly outside them,so having a larger "kickout" window wouldn't work..To meet true code, a scapewell or Bilco type egresses are the only alternatives..We just can't cut the window a bit, and slap a ladder on it,though i'd rather do that :)
I have the same quote for a scapewell or bilco,though adding an interior door on the bilco adds 600 beans +-
It is hard to swallow 5k for the privelege of spending 20-25k to finish the basement...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 12:24PM
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For comparisons, I did most of my own egress window for my basement project. It was alot of hard labor and the cost was still ~$1000.

$350 for contractor to cut the hole.
$200 casement window
$300 Retaining blocks for custom well + delivery
$100 Misc (gravel, drainage pipe, window buck.)

probably 40+ h of my labor.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 4:11PM
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Andrew in DC/VA,

I'm also in Arlington. I ran into zoning setback issues, since our window is out front. Arlington has a 25' setback requirement, which is allowed to be reduced to 21' for this sort of thing, but no further. Our house actually is about 23.5' setback (not 25') according to the "up to date" survey. The projection of the window well reduces the setback even further. Given the depth of our window well (about 6'), the scapewell stair-step style would extend too far forward (going below the 21' allowed), but the Bilco (w/ ladder) got in under the 21' minimum. It still providing the minimum 9 s.f "floor" (3'x3') of the window well that is required.

As for other ways to build the window well, I suppose you could build your own, but keep in mind the 3x3 minimum "floor area" required when you do. When you factor in the time to do the job, it just seems easier to get a Bilco or other in there and backfill, as opposed to spending time building a brick well or something. (You can find a distributor and buy direct - there's one down in Springfield or Manassas.)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 7:24PM
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This forum is so helpful. So the guys who did my french drain, B-Dry, will do the window well. The contractor doing the basement will cut the wall. I need to buy the window which is the x-factor but I think B-Dry will charge me about $300 for digging the well and the contractor will include it in the price of the job.

It appears that the well will not be deep enough to require the ladder but if so, I will attach something at a later date. I think we have the setback on this window but we will probably lose a bush or two that we planted in the fall.

The sense I get is that doing this the way I am doing is ok...since I already have the B-Dry/french drain company willing to put in the well and drain for a reasonable price and the contractor willing to cut the wall and install the window as part of our original deal.

Object as necessary and Homebound let me know if you want to drive by some time....we are in North Arlington off of George Mason. Did you pull permits for finishing your basement?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 1:45PM
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Andrew in DC/VA,

Looks like you've got a plan that works. Yes, I did pull permits for the basement (which is not yet finished).

And thanks for the offer to drive by and see the project - I'd be interested to trade an idea or two. I'm in S. Arlington off G. Mason. You can reach me at

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 8:51AM
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I'm doing a walkout with french doors, anything I need to know about putting in drainage at the bottom of the concrete stairs. Seems like a natural collection point for water, don't know what code is or what would be involved in doing that but I'm figuring there's got to be some sort of drain.

In addition, if anyone knows of any contractors that can do the excavation, concrete, and entry installation as well as a supplier for concrete precast stairs, it'd be appreciated. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 10:27AM
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Do you guys have working smoke detectors in the house? Do you put your kids in car seats? Do you carry life insurance? Then why all the fuss about an emergency escape from a hole in the ground where you want you family to be? Remember you are not buying a better view, you are buying an escape route to save your life and the life of your friends and family. You can help keep the cost at a minimum by doing many of the things suggested. Here are a few more. 1) Call around to landscapers to come and dig the hole. They are not so busy right now and might make a deal. 2) Same with concrete contractors for the cutting. 3) rent the tool to cut it your self, Make sure your saw allows for a water hook up to keep dust to a minimum. 4) Look at many well products to make the right decision for your house. 5) install a casement rather than a slider or double hung. Hole needs to be much smaller.
I hope this helps

Here is a link that might be useful: info

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 2:13AM
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Weighing in way after the question, but it is a frequent issue everywhere. One major point is that the window must have a clear opening of 5.7 sf (which is why Mark's suggestion of a casement is a good one). And the sill must be no higher than 44" at the MOST above the floor. Checl with your local building office. They are actually very helpful.

Regarding the construction, you could simply pour the full foundation and attach steps or a ladder (see the code for the allowable variables). The Bilco setups just work wella nd are more convenient, in quicker, etc. All is a small price to not die.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 11:33PM
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Dh is a firefighter, and has said that basement fires are dangerous and hard to fight - the fire tends to heat up quickly, and there are often HVAC units, water heaters, paint, solvents and chemicals stored there. And it's dangerous for them to enter the house on the main floor, potentially right above the fire.

My parents' basement bedrooms are not code-compliant because the windows are a little too high, but I feel OK sleeping there because the beds are underneath the windows and it's pretty easy to get out (we've tried). Maybe it would be difficult for a very small child though.

Whatever you get, be sure to test it out and be sure that it is easy to climb out, even if you're flustered or in a hurry.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 3:00PM
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We have been reviewing egress options for our basement also. We do not have room to put in larger window wells on the walls where there are windows due to setback issues. Instead we will be adding a door and stairs at the back of the house with the door entering a room that will be used as a bedroom. The VERY rough quote we got for this was in the 10K ballpark due to needing a drain at the bottom and the concrete work. This is in the Seattle area. That seems to line up with the OP's quote of 10.7K.

It is frustrating to me overall because our house is the only house on our street that does not have direct egress to the outside from the basement. I cannot understand why the original owner (who we bought from and who built the house himself) did not add a door, especially because they used the basement a lot.

One thing to add to the above post is that I was told that egress requirements are not just so you can get out, but also so that a firefighter can get in with all the gear on his back. That cleared things up for me a lot because IMO the requirements make for pretty large openings for your average person to get out.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:17PM
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I don't understand why direct-to-exterior basement egress isn't mandatory on all new homes.

I built a custom home last year for someone who intends to use the basement for office and bedroom space. Yet the windows are only 2'x2' set high in the nearly 10' high basement. A death trap as far as I'm concerned. Not a matter of budget either; they spent $35K on kitchen cabinetry alone. In my own homes, I always put a walkout or two.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:58AM
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"the requirements make for pretty large openings for your average person to get out."

The requirements are not for average people or firefighters but for large people. Someone around 300 pounds, more or less, has to be able to get through that window.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 1:52PM
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I rented a circular saw with masonry blade from Home Depot for $100 a day. Cut an opening of 5 x 3 (this was a large window) and it took out the concrete inside an hour. It's one way to go if you're a DIYer and want to cut remodeling costs.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 4:55PM
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