Emergency Escape: The Basic Requirements for Egress Windows

More homeowners are turning their basements into living spaces to maximize space and increase their resale value. However, there are strict guidelines around basement-level living spaces and the most basic one would be the presence of egress windows.

In the event of an emergency, these windows serve as a means of escape for you and your family and an entry point for rescue personnel. Renovation Xperts LLC, one of the top interior renovation companies in the state, lists the basic guidelines for egress windows below.

Minimum Dimensions 

Listed below are the basic requirements for the dimensions of egress windows:

  • The opening width of an egress window has to be at least 20 inches.

  • Its opening height has to be at least 24 inches.

  • The bottom of its opening can’t be more than 44 inches away from the floor.

Choose a window that meets more than the bare minimum. An egress window that only meets the minimum requirements will have an opening of 3.33 square feet; the minimum for net openings is 5.7 square feet.

Window Wells and Ladders 

Like a roof repair project, transforming your basement into a living space will require a lot of work. In addition to egress windows, you’d also need to install a window well. And if it’s more than 44 inches deep, you’ll also need to install a ladder or steps.

The requirements for the window well and ladder are as follows:

  • The window well shouldn’t hamper the opening of the egress window.

  • The window well should have a minimum area of 9 square feet.

  • The space between the egress window and the back of the well should be at least 36 inches.

  • The distance between the rungs of the ladder shouldn’t be more than 18 inches.

Note that the requirements for egress windows may vary, depending on the building codes in your area. As such, it’s best to consult a basement remodeler about the local building code.

Renovation Xperts LLC is a family-owned home improvement and kitchen remodeling company with more than 30 years’ experience. To get a free evaluation, call (202) 315-0744 or fill out this form. We serve homeowners in DC.