When you think of basement windows the first thing that comes to mind is probably either a row of translucent blocks or a small, foot-high pane of glass at ceiling level. In either case, their purpose is to let natural light into the basement, not to look outside. They are definitely not a means of escape in case of fire or another emergency. For that you need an egress window.

What are Egress Windows?

Generally speaking, an egress window is a window that opens wide enough and is close enough to the floor to provide an exit in case of emergency. Building codes often require one in every bedroom, although specific regulations vary by city and state. That includes if you are adding a bedroom as part of finishing or remodeling your basement.

Because their position and function is different than a normal window, however, when egress windows are discussed it is usually the type of below-grade structures that are needed in basements, where normally any kind of window would open into, well, dirt.

From the outside, many egress windows look like a deep, lined window well, although different styles are available. Some come equipped with transparent covers to prevent leaves or other debris from congregating in front of the window.

The hole for the window must be deep enough that it is at a reasonable height to exit through. The liner must be deep enough to facilitate an exit as well. The interior window must open enough to escape through. Otherwise it can be modified to fit the design of the room.

Advantages of Egress Windows


One of the biggest advantages of an egress window is obviously why some cities require them in the first place: safety.

The ability to exit a house safely in case of emergency is crucial, and basements often have only one exit: the staircase.

This is especially key for bedrooms, given that that is where one of your family members will be sleeping. It can also be useful for whatever purpose you want your newly finished basement to serve because finishing a basement usually means you intend to spend more time in the basement.

Natural Light

There are many advantages to basement living areas. Natural light, however, is not one of them.

The small windows peeking out just above the surface of the ground outside can provide some. Egress windows, however, are much larger and despite being functionally underground can still offer a wonderful source of natural light.

The amount will obviously vary depending upon the direction the window faces, but the increase in light will help brighten up your basement.

Property Values

Certain places have requirements for what can be considered a bedroom. An egress window is often one of those requirements.

And if you are looking to sell your house, that can make a substantial difference.

First, being able to list as a three bedroom instead of two (or four instead of three or so on) can open up a whole new group of potential buyers who need the additional bedroom space.

Second, it can have a big impact on property values. While it varies greatly by location, some estimates place the average return on investment of an additional bedroom at $30,000-$50,000 dollars.

Interested in Finishing or Remodeling Your Basement? Contact Us Today

Based in Geneseo and serving the Quad-City area, Vermillion Construction is a skilled basement finishing and remodeling contractor. Contact us today and we will set up a call to discuss your remodeling project.