Basement Egress Windows

Basement Egress Windows

We often get asked what the exact requirements are for basement egress windows. When estimating basement remodeling projects,  we always recommend incorporating an egress window into the design.  Although it’s only required by code when creating a new lower level bedroom, more people are leaning towards installing one based strictly on safety concerns.

What is an Egress Window?Basement-egress-window-installer

An basement egress window is a means of entry/exit from the a lower level of your home or business. It is large enough ( as defined by local building codes ) to allow a fire fighter in all their gear entry or exit through this window.  In most cases, an egress window is paired with a Egress Well with an attached or incorporated ladder for quick and easy escape.

Where Does the Egress window go.

By code, an egress window is required in any bedroom/sleeping area of the basement. Technically, if you are only using the space for entertainment or an office,  you do not need the egress window.

What size does the Basement Egress Window need to be?

These are by and large the standard requirements as set forth in the National Building Code. There may be additional items per your local municipality.

  • Minimum width of 20 inches
  • Minimum height of 24 inches
  • Minimum NCP ( net clear opening which is the actual opening a person must crawl ) of 5.7 square feet
  • Maximum sill height of 44 inches
  • Window-well floor space with minimum dimensions of 36″x 36″ with a minimum floor space of 9sf.
  • The window-well needs a permanent ladder or steps if the window well depth is greater than 44 inches.
  • The window has to be able to be operated from inside without tools. Any obstructions like grates or bars are not allowed. The window or other opening must be operational from the inside without keys or tools.
  • The ladder needs to be 12″ wide and must project no less than 3″ from the window well.


Basement Egress Window Types:

Many different window types will meet strict egress code requirements. However, some are able to do it much more efficiently than others.  When you’re choosing your egress window keep in mind a few of the below pros and cons.

  • Double-hung windows: When fully open, greater than 1/2 of the window’s overall square footage is still

    Basement Egress Window – Casement

    blocked by glass. In order to satisfy code requirements this means that the double-hung window would need to be nearly 57″ in total height.

  • Casement windows: A casement window is a side-hinged window.  This is the ideal window for egress application because it takes up the least amount of wall space.
  • Awning windows: An Awning window operates from a hinge at the top. This type is not a good fit for an egress window. Stay away.
  • Gliding windows: If there is enough space in your basement, these horizontal sliding windows are a good fit. They let in plenty of natural light and are easy to operate. However, much like double hung windows, the size can be a problem. One of these would need to be 4 feet height and 4 feet tall to meet code.


Basement Egress window construction is not typically a homeowner project. Heavy equipment is often needed to complete the excavation and then a specialized concrete saw to cut the foundation opening. These, combined with structural issues to consider, makes it a project you should call a professional for.

Need a quote? Have other remodeling that needs to be done? Call HomeWorks at 574-318-9675 or go contact us.










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HomeWorks Construction
1511 N Pulaski St.
South Bend, IN 46613
Phone: 574.318.WORK (9675)