basement windows?

kathyanddaveApril 23, 2007

I have a question for everyone about windows in a finished basement. Our house is a 70's ranch and has the typical 20'x 24' "basement windows". The bottom of the windows are at ground level, so they aren't egress windows and no window wells. We would like to put a bedroom down there, but DH is adament about not cutting into foundation so larger windows are out of the question. We have checked and these windows are not up to code to even have a finished basement even though it was finished when we bought it. So unless we want to cut into our foundation and enlarge the windows pulling a permit is out of the question. Has anyone else run into this problem and if so how did you handle it. It seems like a waste of space to not use the finished basement, but there is no way I could talk DH into enlarging the windows. Fire isn't really an issue for our family we could all fit easily out of the window, but I suppose a very large person would have trouble.

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People put the bedroom in and don't tell anyone. You either do it correctly or not. It's your house.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 11:28PM
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You won't get into trouble until you have a problem and the insurance company finds out you don't have a egress window.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 11:04AM
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don't plan to move. The inspector will write it up in a heartbeat. But nothing's from stopping you technically.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 12:23PM
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I would continue to lobby for the proper window. I did mine myself, except for actually cutting the hole, and it cost ~$1000. One benefit of a bigger window (3'x4') is it dramatically increases the natural light in the room and really improves the feel of the room.

I personally wouldn't ask a friend or family member to sleep in a room without the legal minimum for fire safety standards. Tragedies usually result from several mistakes or failures occurring along the way (not a single event)and I don't want to first mistake to be foregoeing the safety standards.

good luck

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 3:14PM
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Thanks for all the replys, I guess I'll just have to keep bugging DH about new egress windows, maybe he'll get tired of me asking and just give in :)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:14AM
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I used to think "do it, it's your home", but no longer on critical issues. As an inspector once said, "You may not need it, but the next guy may."

Egress window dimensions allow a properly equipped firefighter the clearance to get inside. So if you can imagine someone unconscious for some reason, think it through a bit more.

I had a friend just lose his house in a flash due to dryer lint catching fire, and he cleans his duct every year. Go figure.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:32PM
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I think I need to clarify something, my house is a raised ranch, with the steps coming down the middle. On one side of the steps is the finished basement which we are thinking of making a bedroom, but the other side is a one car garage, and there is a garage door, and a regular walk out door on that side. So while the bedroom wouldn't be up to code,(only one small basement window) there is still easy access for a fireman to enter the basement itself in case of a fire. I don't know if this will change anyones answers because what it still breaks down to is that its not up to code, but I just thought I'd throw it into the discussion

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 1:27PM
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I also wouldn't do it if it couldn't be done to code. It may come back to haunt you later on. Ours is a new home, but we paid extra for the oversize windows (and a window well for each.)
Show it to you husband. The windows make it feel like a ground floor.


You can't really tell, but there is a lot of natural light in the room now.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 8:03PM
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Wow your basement looks great. It doesn't have a "basement" feel to it at all, I guess I'll just keep bugging him, thanks :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 12:35PM
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Having a garage across from the room would only make me want the window more. The garage is a common starting place for a fire. That is why there are special codes that deal with garages, such as a solid self-closing fire-rated door between the garage and living space. The are also additional fire related requirements for walls between garages and living spaces.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 9:51AM
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Why won't your DH let the basement walls be cut into? Maybe if you speak to an engineer and learn how to do it correctly your DH's concerns will be gone. (I'm assuming his concern is related to something like that, and not a "because I say so" or money thing)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 10:43PM
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The problem is in most areas the code changed in 2003. The previous code was you needed an egress from a basement bedroom. But if it was a normal finished living area it wasn't needed. In 2003 it changed that an egress is needed for any finished living space. Some people can say when they sell the house that the basement was finished before 2003 and it was up to code then.
To present a room in the basement as a bedroom it needs an egress.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 4:47PM
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If your still going back and forth with DH i came across a great window well that meets egress requirements and lets in a ton of natural light. It also will dramatically increase the look and feel of your landscape on the outside, as opposed to those steel window wells you usually see. I'm looking it to putting them in my home.

Here is a link that might be useful: RockWell WIndow Wells

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 1:42PM
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