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Are Basements Required To Have Windows?

Are Basements Required To Have Windows?

Everyone prefers to live in a place with good ventilation and access to fresh air.

Basements, like bedrooms and living rooms, can and should be habitable spaces.

Many people are unsure whether they can install a window in their basement. 

Basements are required to have some sort of window. If any large chunk of the completed basement area is being used as a room, or if you’re designing another livable space that does not yet have an egress window, you need to install one for safety reasons. 

Here in this article, we will take you through the process of why windows are important for the basements and why you should install one.

What Exactly Is An Egress Window?

The word “egress” implies to exit or leave. When in a crisis, egress windows help in providing an escape.

The window must be sufficient for an adult person to pass through to get away.

The International Residential Code dictates the diameter and length of this window installed in the basement (IRC).

As a component of their building regulation, some states and territories may also have extra egress window specifications.

What Distinguishes An Egress Window From a Typical Basement Window?

Most basements that are completed have at least one window for air circulation, however, these are frequently too tiny and too tall to allow for an emergency exit.

Egress windows are crafted in a manner for inhabitants to easily leave, or for emergency crews to enter.

Egress Window

What Are The Requirements Of a Basement Having An Egress Window?

According to the IRC, every space capable of supporting life, including a complete basement, should have egress windows or doors for emergency escape.

The requirements that are listed down by IRC are given below:

  • The window should have a minimum opening of 5.7 square feet. So that an adult can easily pass from it during an escape.
  • A minimum entrance width of 20 inches and a minimum height of 24 inches is required.
  • The entrance must be accessible from the inside, free of enclosures that necessitate codes or tools to enter.

It is deemed necessary that the windows or doors should follow the requirements laid forward by the IRC.

The window well must permit the complete opening in case of any urgent exit and emergency entering. The necessities include:

  • A least diagonal space of 9 square feet for the window well.
  • Minimum 3 feet lateral spacing for the window.

The other requirements one should follow when installing an egress window are:

  • The egress window should have a depth of 44 inches and have a ladder or steps that are functional when the windows are open. 
  • The ladder should have a width of 12 inches and protrude at least 3 inches.

Why Is Having An Egress Window Necessary?

Egress windows are deemed a requirement of the International Residential Code (IRC) as a means of secure exit and evacuation means for adults and children.

Furthermore, windows significantly raise natural sunlight in the cellar, which effectively eliminates the “deep pit” feeling and makes the room feel very much like the main areas of the household.

What Is The Number Of Windows Required In a Basement?

A basement is embedded in the ground and requires at least one egress window, as well as one in each basement room if there are any.

Although walkout basements always have adequate egress, an egress window is still required for proper ventilation and sunlight.

What Are The Advantages Of Having An Egress Window?

When it comes to installing an egress window, it can be hard but when it comes to the advantages we all put up with the discomfort for some time. 

They boost the value of a property and make it a safer place for everybody who resides there. 

And, because the requirements necessitate huge windows, on the whole, they let in more bright sunlight and provide more air circulation.

Here we are going to discuss the reasons why the egress windows should be your top priority.

The Pros:

  • Safety and protection: Yearly, many people die of fires around the world. Many disasters could be avoided if there was a path for them to escape. The egress windows provide a safe way to escape when you are faced with a similar emergency. So installing an egress window can be your savior in times of need.
  • Value of your property: When egress windows are added to the basement, it can increase the value of your property by many folds. We all know that these windows can be on the expensive side.

    On the other hand, they also ensure your safety and provide you with a path to exit at times of emergencies. Adding egress windows will enable the residents to have a bedroom in the basement as well which will increase their living space leading to the increased value of your property.
  • Added Comfort: The addition of egress windows will give your dark and dull basement more natural sunlight and will improve its overall appeal. A window of 5.7 square feet can also provide plenty of air circulation to even the most stuffy basement.
Egress Window

What Are The Disadvantages Of Having An Egress Window?

Aside from financial constraints, there really is no possible explanation not to set up egress windows.

The potential reward in terms of investment and return is so significant that cost arguments often crumble instantly. 

The only “drawback” we notice is the requirement to set up egress windows in compliance with existing building regulations and to ensure proper placement 

The Cons:

  • Understand Local Building Regulations: Most building standards demand a 5.7 sq ft entrance and a window no higher than 44 inches off the ground.

    However, please remember that regulations differ from location to location, so ensure you and your consultant are aware of the actual necessities for your township.

    If the home inspection uncovers that your egress window misses the mark in any way, you’ll have to start over.
  • Basement Egress Windows and Humidity: Humidity concerns can be a trouble when it comes to the basement window, particularly if your basement has a background of moisture penetration.

    To prevent all of this, ensure your window well is dug to the appropriate depth underneath the window and take other precautions, such as placing basement drainage channels and ensuring your sewer system depletes away from the building.
  • Inconvenience: Having to install an egress window in the basement is a huge task no matter how you slice it. Be ready to deal with the discomforts that come with such a complex project.

Conclusion to Basements Needing Windows

Egress windows are necessary for your basement in the case of an emergency exit.

It is better to have these windows installed or regret at the time for any critical situation.

These are good for the ventilation of your home and natural sunlight.

All of these factors give your basement a comfortable and ideal place to spend your time in.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.