Window wells , are they worth it?

ekoreillyDecember 1, 2006

I am wondering, are those large window wells worth putting in after the fact (on presxiting homes). I like the way they look on the inside and like the idea of a easier escape (actually might not be good when kids are older) but I worry that they could cause leak problems, drainage problems because as it stands now, might basement is extremely dry. Oh, we have a block wall foundation and yes there is a very good drainage piping and such around the perimeter of the house.

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I had 2 Scapewells installed in our basement addition, with full egress size windows, and love it. It brings a huge amount of light into the basement, and since the well has steps, I can use it to ocassionally go into the back yard.

The Scapewell does not have a bottom, it's just filled with gravel and drains into the perimeter drain.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scapewell

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 9:26AM
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You left out a few things,
COST $$$
Did it get out into an existing wall? My concern is disturbance of foundation wall, drains and structure. My basement is dry as can be, worried that if they screw around with the drainage and such it could lead to water problems.

Also, I checked out your link, did you get a window well cover? I think I would.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 2:41PM
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Quotes vary greatly so if you want to see if it's "worth it" you'll have to get local quotes. Here in Northern VA/DC you can get a scapewell & egress window installed anywhere from 3k to 8k. Best to shop carefully for something like this.

Tomorrow we're having one installed (on the lower end of the range I mentioned) into a 10" thick poured concrete wall. I did most of the excavation, but there's still a bit more that the company will have to do. We chose a Bowman-Kemp window well since our set-back was insufficient for the Scapewell at the depth we needed. It still provides the required 3'x3' floor room for egress and firefighter entry, but by way of a ladder instead of the Scapewell's steps.)

Oh, and we're having it put into an existing hopper window location, so we'll use the same lintel - no widening in our case as we're going with an Anderson double hung window that's large enough to meet code.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 4:44PM
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As homebound says, you won't know the cost til you get a quote.

We had it put in a new addition, so I'm not sure about the possibilites of foundation damage during installation.

The window well itself is made of plastic, so it doesn't leak, and the plastic well cover deflects 99% of the rain onto the ground while still allowing light in, and it's easy to pop off if you want to climb out. And we used a casement window so it's easy to get in and out.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 9:21AM
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Considering this very thing as I construct a basement storm shelter addition that faces East and has outside wall facing North. Light has never been good on North side of house & Tree border on South Side & North side limit light in Winter.
My space isn't living space, it is below ground protection from Storms & already have a back stair way, thinking of just cutting hole in floor to allow egress to 1st floor through closet trap door.
Have checked into Bilco Scapewels & stair covers + Bowman -Kemp products don't really like either of them. Looked at getting set of outside stairs too, not fond of messing up my beautiful masonry exterior with a set of Trap doors on the side or the rear..only the metal ones will fit the stairwells they construct , because of the Landing requirements for Codes. Glad I am not making this living quarters,with all this egress & IRC 2003 how do you protect the thieves from getting in? They have made it EZ for them as well as Firefighters to get in !! There are more thieves out here then firefighters...decisions, decisions anyone used one of the window well covers from Lustercraft? Think their patented one looks a lot better then the ones I have seen thus far especially for masonry applications.
Anyone have any more suggestions?

Here is a link that might be useful: Lustercraft

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 6:22AM
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Drainage should not be a problem if done correctly. You just need to connect the well to the perimeter drain system, usually a gravel spillway is sufficient. Its unclear if you already have the window or not. I agree they are definately nice and let in a lot of light. I couldn't justify the cost of the prefab wells, so I made my own using retaining wall blocks. It cost about $200 in the end, about the same as a galvanized metal one, but looks light years better.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 11:54AM
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If you have the option, and it's not being required by code: DON'T DO IT! In our case, it was required by code, and we've been living a three-year nightmare. I strongly recommend that you seek references in the neighborhood, and choose your contractor carefully. Our basement was "bone dry" prior to the job, and after several attempts to get it right by various contractors, almost $10,000 later, we now have seemingly-permanent leakage problems.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 7:52AM
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Heck I decided that a stairway (parallel to the basement) was more practical then an egress window , plus I will put metal framed door with steel 36 " door there. Drain put beneath stair way & Sump pump trap /french tile already installed in basement; no leaks & I am installing Thickset 90 Glassblock in my rear wall last course of block for light. & Glass Block in sides for more light in basement and also a Glassblock window with Ventilation window in center so I will have some ventilation down there if I need it. Not going the excessive size window well route..

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 2:00AM
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homebound, threedoghouse, woodinvirginia,
Are you satisfied with the work that was done? If so, would you mind forwarding me the name of your contractors?


    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 12:27PM
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I'm very please with our window and would recommend our contractor's work highly. I don't want to advertise them here, but send me an email (just my "junk address", but I'll look for you) and I'll give you their details. markpolitics1@yahoo. (need to add the .com, of course)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 10:14PM
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We added a scapewell and a 5x4 foot window last year before our basement remodel, and it turned our basement from a dark dreary place to a light filled daylight space, we LOVE it! Our contractor would not put it in unless we purchased the cover also, so really not much water can get in there. THe cover actually is a bonus since it lets light through but blocks direct line of vision from our neighbor's deck into our basement, and vice versa.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:26PM
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