If you have a basement, finishing it into useable, livable space is an attractive and obvious option. The key to a successful basement project is to improve the quality of life in your home, while preparing for future contingencies. And, as every avid DIYer knows, it’s important to make sure significant home improvement projects, from electrical to plumbing to structural enhancements, are in keeping with local and national building codes.
Why Do Your Basement?
A National Association of the Remodeling Industry 2012 survey found 36 percent of homeowners planned to stay in their homes for 11 to 20 years. A study by American Express reports that 72 percent of homeowners have at least one home improvement project on their to-do list for 2013. Many of those include building out a basement bedroom for recent grads returning to live at home (The New York Times reported that in 2012, 36 percent of Millennials 18-31 were living in their parents’ homes). Others have always wanted a home theater, “man cave,” work studio, or multipurpose room for a growing family. Regardless of your need, versatile finished basements can be the ideal location for a distinctive and highly functional room.
Basement Fire Safety Code
This may not be your first thought when you’re deciding between a billiard room or a home theater, but according to the International Residential Code both newly finished and remodeled basements must have a basement fire escape or egress system that meets requirements for escape routes in case of an emergency. The good news is that while adding a basement egress is an advanced DIY project requiring special skills and tools, it’s well within the reach of most experienced DIYers, and the results can dramatically improve subterranean comfort and safety.
Fire can spread rapidly through a home, leaving as little as two minutes to safely escape. Egress systems must be easy to use, so even young children or seniors can escape quickly when safety is at risk. Window well escape products, such as Wellcraft® Egress Systems manufactured by The Tapco Group, can be added quickly and affordably, opening up a wide range of possibilities. These code compliant systems feature a window well with integrated stepladder, and a lightweight well cover that can support 350+ lbs., preventing injuries from children and animals falling into the well. In case of an emergency, however, even young children can quickly remove the well cover from the inside and exit safely.
Typical egress well installations average 4 to 5-feet wide by 5 to 7-feet in depth.
In addition to providing enhanced safety, these window wells also brighten basements with clean design and sunlight, making them lively and comfortable spaces. Unlike metal wells, UV-protected polyurethane egress wells and ladders won’t dent, rot, rust, warp or otherwise compromise safety because they never need painting and will last for as long as you own your home.
A Wellcraft Egress System turns a basement into a refreshing, sunlit living space while providing a fast, easy escape route that meets building code requirements.