Fire escape basement windows will give you a life saving escape route if you are trapped in your basement during an emergency, plus because the way they are constructed they’ll bring in all the fresh air and natural light that you could need. You and your guests can relax and enjoy the time spent in your basement when you have one of these egress windows installed. Not to mention that current building codes require that you have one installed. However, older homes do not have these window types that allow a grown person to adequately use it as an escape route during an emergency.
If you are about to start remodeling the basement and are looking to keep your house in compliance, you are going to have to create an escape route. While these could be a DIY project, there’s a lot of work and red tape involved, so this one might be better off in a qualified contractors hands. Here are a few things you’ll need to know before you break ground and what you should ask the general basement contractors should ensure if you go that route:
Locate the Utilities – Before you dig, you got to know where these run and if your plans will interfere or interrupt service. Ensure that this is part of the plan.
Ensure Structural Integrity – You are going to need some help here so your house doesn’t fall in, get the help of a Professional Engineer that can “stamp” the approval that the window plans won’t affect the overall structure of your home.
Permit Applications – Most municipalities will require that you have a permit for this type of renovation. Cut through the red tape and save yourself some hassle in the end and do it up front.
Excavation and Removal of dirt – Since most all basements are underground and to properly install a fire escape basement window, you are going to have to dig. Either have plans for the dirt after removal or make sure that as part of the contract the contractors will get rid of it. Also, it would be a good idea to hear just how they are going to remove the dirt, whether they will use large equipment or if it’s going to be more of a manual process. If equipment is involved, make sure that it doesn’t affect any lines running to and from your home and that the surrounding landscape will remain pretty much intact.
Protection from Dust and Debris in Your Home – This one is a messy job and the dirt and dust will be flying. Either make sure that you have that all covered so that it will minimalize exposure to the rest of your home or find out what the contractor is going to do to protect it.
Sawing the Concrete for an Egress Basement Window – Once the hole is dug, you are going to have to cut the opening into the concrete wall to hold the egress window. This will take a specialized saw to get the job done right that you probably don’t just have lying around the house. While I don’t think that you will need to spend the money purchasing one, ensure that there is one available for you to rent somewhere and that you’ll be able to handle the tool effectively. If a contractor is doing the job, ask them what they will be cutting the concrete with, how many they have done and about how long it will take to make the proper size opening. Remember, measure twice and cut once.
Concrete Removal and Disposal – Once the concrete wall is cut and the remnants on the ground, you have to do something with it. Concrete is not only heavy but can be a chore to get rid of. Know what you are going to do with it once it’s done. If it’s contracted, make sure that the contract states for removal and disposal by the contractor for the cut concrete.
Framing Materials – Now that you’ve got your hole, make sure that you will have enough material to properly frame out the new window appropriately. Find out from your contractor what materials and exactly what precautions they will take while framing.
Basement Window Well – This one comes down to your choice and how much you are willing to live with. Just make sure that the one you choose or the contractor suggests not only fits the budget but is aesthetically pleasing from both the inside and outside of your home, since peering out your new window, you’ll definitely see it.
Basement Egress Windows – What type of window are you going to install? Personal choice and preference work well here but if I could suggest one, I’d definitely look into a casement window. These windows will offer maximum room to escape as they are hinged on the side and will open wide. Ask the contractor what type of window they will be installing.
Window Well Fire Escape Ladder – This is the reason you are installing the window in the first place, as an escape route during an emergency. Ensure that one is provided as part of the installation process.
General Labor – although your labor charges if you do it yourself are free, if you are having a contractor do it, see just how much the actual labor figures are.
But How Much Will Fire Escape Basement Windows Cost?
Most standard installations of fire escape basement windows are typically either 3 foot by 4 foot or 4 foot by 4 foot packages and they can range from $2,500 to $2,800. Of course this can vary depending on the quality of windows used, how much work has to be done on the outside realigning utilities or sprinklers, how thick your actual concrete wall is, and the overall condition of the environment just outside your home. Most of the time, it will only take a good general contractor about a day to properly install an egress basement window, but it may take 2. So that you are not surprised when the time comes, just make sure that it’s all included as part of your contractors bid for installing a fire escape basement window so you know what to expect.