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Working from home often means making better use of living space such as finishing the basement or attic. Ensuring there are safe exits from these spaces is a vital part of home safety and often required by local code requirements. By installing a basement egress window, you may also add value to your home provided the installation meets the local housing standards.

Basements and every sleeping room should have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening that opens to the exterior of the home. This standard exists because many emergencies happen during the night and spread quickly, cutting off the normal paths of exit through the home.

Check with your local code requirements for regulations in your area. In general, basement egress windows according to the IRC 2018 (International Residential Code) should have a minimum opening area of the window at 5.7 square feet. The minimum egress window opening height should be 24″ high. The minimum basement egress window opening should be 20″ wide. The sill height of the emergency escape and rescue opening should not be more than 44 inches above the floor. If the window has a sill height below ground level, a window well should be installed to hold back the surrounding soil. The window well should have a horizontal area of at least 9 square feet, with a minimum horizontal projection and width of 36 inches (with the exception of a ladder encroachment into the required dimension). If a basement egress window is located under a porch or deck, the porch or deck should allow the window to be fully opened and the escape path should be at least 3 feet high and there are other requirements that go along with these basics.

Creating a home emergency escape plan is only one step in preparing the occupants. The second step is practice. Talk about your plan on a regular basis and practice the plan. Walk through each room, talk about the various escape routes, and where will everyone meet once they are safely outside. Build safety, build value, and make your home inspector happy by doing the job in a professional manner!

Evergreen Property Inspectors provides home inspections in the St. Louis area. Contact us to request an appointment.