When it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones from the danger of a home fire, egress windows are a life-saving feature, as essential as a fire alarm system. They must be large, close to the floor, and easy to open in order to function as an escape route and point of entry for rescue personnel.
Building codes may vary slightly based on your location, but all require that an egress window be installed in every bedroom, as well as any basement sleeping room. Even if your basement does not serve as a bedroom, installing an egress window is prudent due to the potential difficulties of exiting a below-ground space in an emergency.
When it comes to your family’s safety, expense is no object; but as with any project, you’ll want to know what the costs look like so that you can plan ahead. Whether you are building a new home or looking to update an older home to enhance its safety features, check out the following cost guide to get a good idea of what you’ll be spending.
For egress windows in bedrooms located on the first level or above, this project is fairly straightforward and inexpensive. If you’re looking at energy efficient windows, installing an egress window should cost about the same as installing any window: between $400 and $1,000, including labor. Of course, the total costs will depend on how many bedrooms are in your home and whether you want to go above and beyond requirements by installing them in living areas as well.
When it comes to installing basement egress windows, things get a little more complicated. If you have a sloping yard, you may be able to install your window above-ground, which is not much different from regular window installation. But below-ground applications, on the other hand, require digging into the ground and cutting away your concrete or brick basement wall, which means you have to think about permits and permissions from city utilities. It’s also very important than you hire a contractor with skills and references, because this is no DIY job. If it’s completed improperly, you can encounter moisture problems in your basement or even hit gas or electric lines while excavating.
Due to the complicated nature of installing this type of egress window, the job will most likely cost you anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.
If you’re in the midst of a basement renovation or a new home construction, the contractor and permit factors won’t be as big of an issue since they’re already a part of the job.
Keep in mind that a sliding basement door on sloping property can take the place of an egress window as a far as meeting building codes and providing an emergency exit. This is the only circumstance in which you do not specifically need an egress window to use a basement as sleeping quarters.
DIY Installation Considerations
As mentioned above, basement egress window installation is a demanding job that requires skill with concrete cutting and awareness of building codes. But there are certain steps you can perform yourself that will save money. For example, once the contractor has marked out the area that will need to be dug, you can save about $500 by digging it yourself. If you do have experience with concrete and want to do the job with your own two hands, you will need to rent a concrete saw, which will cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. In any case, make sure you get a consultation and the proper permits before beginning any work yourself.
You can easily install bedroom and other above-ground egress windows yourself, same as you might with an ordinary window. Make sure to research your local fire and building codes to ensure you’re choosing the right size and type and window.
Other Benefits Besides Safety
Besides giving your family a safe exit during emergencies, egress windows can add value to your home. Without a safe exit, your basement cannot officially be used as guest quarters or a bedroom. But once you install an egress window, you can do whatever you want with the space and increase the square footage—and therefore the value—of your home. In addition to the added area, prospective homeowners appreciate up-to-date safety features, as well as the light and ventilation that an egress window can bring to an otherwise dark and stuffy basement bedroom or living area.