When planning a basement remodel, spend time considering the placement and design of egress window wells. There are many laws, rules, and regulations that govern the construction and installation of an egress window. Building code officials strictly implement them.
If you want the inspector to approve your design, you will need to know what they are looking for and how to go about choosing window types that will be accepted. So, here are some tips that will make your egress window project go a little smoother.
First Thing's First: Call the Inspector
Before you do anything, contact your local building inspector's office and ask about code requirements for egress windows in your area. The inspector's office will be pleased to provide you with information on the types of egress window designs that are allowed, how large they must be, and any other requirements.
Even if you have to visit City Hall to get the information, it could save you a ton of time and money in the long run. Having to replace an egress window because it doesn't meet code requirements can turn a relatively simple DIY job into a nightmare.
Call the Utility Companies
Since you will be tearing out a piece of your concrete basement wall to install your new egress window, you should contact local utility companies and have them visit your home to make sure you won't be destroying any cable, electrical, gas, or phone lines. Utility companies encourage it and are happy to come let you know where the lines are buried.
Create a Ladder or Steps
In order to make your egress window easier (and safer) to use in the event of an emergency, consider creating a brick or concrete set of steps to make the window well more accessible to children and short people.
Alternatively, you Should install a metal ladder underneath the egress window and secure it to the concrete wall with anchor bolt fasteners. If you check with the building inspector, you may find some sort of ladder or step system is required in your area. Even it's not, installing a ladder or stairs is always a smart idea.
Protect the Drainage Well
When you install an egress window, dig a drainage footer below the soil at the base of the window. It is always a good idea to install a properly vented drain in the area and tie the drainage footer into the sump pit.
When water drains into the sump pit, the pump will be able to help you better manage water from heavy rains, and you will have far fewer problems with the drainage footer filling up and causing water to stand outside your egress window.
Create a small eave or covering above the egress window well on the outside of your home. If you create a sloped covering, it can help to prevent too much rainwater from entering the window well area. Just be sure to install it high enough so that it does not obstruct the exit the window is intended to provide.