Does An Egress Window Have To Be In The Basement Bedroom?

Basement renovations are a great way to add living space, but they can be complicated by the need for an egress window. We often get asked, “Does an egress window have to be in the basement bedroom?’, by homeowners undertaking basement renovation projects. The answer depends on the situation, so keep reading to understand how the building code works and for some examples where you might need an egress window.

Egress Windows in Basement Bedrooms

A photo of an egress window installed in a basement foundation.

If the basement is a habitable space, and a room that can be used for sleeping, then it does need an egress window. You can’t have a legal bedroom in your basement without an egress window installed. If you are renting your basement out to tenants, you must provide options for safe exits in the case of an emergency.

If the basement is not finished, doesn't have any livable space, and does not have full-height foundation walls, then you don't need an egress window.

Egress Window Codes

A photo of a recently installed egress window.

An egress window is a type of window that is required to meet code requirements. Each state and city has its own set of codes that building owners are required to follow to ensure proper safety protocols for their property. These requirements are designed to protect the public from fire hazards and potential injury, as well as protect occupants from becoming trapped inside during an emergency situation.

The International Residential Code (IRC) requires all habitable spaces to have at least one exit from any point in the room. You can find the basement egress window codes for many US states on our website. Here are a few of the main requirements:

  • The window must be openable from the inside without the use of keys, tools, or special knowledge.
  • If there is more than one sleeping room in a basement, a means of egress is required in each sleeping room.
  • It must provide an unobstructed opening with a minimum area of 5.7 sq. ft. (This requirement drops to 5 sq. ft. for grade floor or below grade openings).
  • The height of the clear opening must be at least 24" and the width must be at least 20".
  • The sill height must not be more than 44" above the floor.

If you live in a town or city where there aren't any specific egress window requirements for basements, then you should check with your local building department before installing an egress window as they may have their own guidelines on this issue. This way you can ensure that your installation meets all necessary regulations before making any modifications or purchasing any materials for your new window installation project.

Secondary Safe Exits in a Basement

A photo of a finished basement with a bedroom and laundry room.

There are different code requirements for egress windows depending on the location of the window in relation to the rest of the basement. In finished basements, a secondary safe exit window or door is required, in addition to an egress window. This second exit may be located anywhere in the basement, even if it's not near a bedroom.

Alternative Options for Basement Bedrooms Without Windows

Basement bedrooms can be made safe by using alternative means of egress, such as a door that leads directly outside. Fireproofing is recommended for the wood of the door, but not required if there is no heat source where it will be installed. This type of door should have a turn-button latch on both sides to prevent accidental closing from the inside. It should also be accessible from both sides of your home, in case something goes wrong and a person needs to exit quickly.

In addition to making your basement bedroom safe for your family or your tenants, an egress window can also act as a way to brighten up your lower-level space. An egress window will allow more natural light into the room, making the area more enjoyable to spend time in. Do you need to have an egress window in your basement bedroom? If so, click here to shop for Egress Compliant Windows.

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