With the rising cost of housing, more homeowners than ever are renovating their basements to use as living spaces. This means that basements need to be light, airy and comfortable. If you have an existing window that doesn’t make this happen, you should consider installing a basement window replacement.
Replacing basement windows does more than just brighten up a space. It can improve your home’s insulation, bring your energy bills down, and help to soundproof your home as well.
Perhaps even more importantly, a basement window replacement can be used as an escape route in case of emergency. Your basement must be safe if it’s used as a bedroom, so the window must be large enough to fit a body through, or allow safety professionals to get in. Don’t think you can ignore the requirements – it’s the law!
Basement Window Replacements – Egress Codes
If your basement window needs to meet the specific building code requirements for emergency exits, it’s known as an egress window. It’s important to know these specifics – not only are they required by law, but they can affect your basement window replacement costs as well.
Here are some of the requirements for egress windows:
- They must have a 5.7 square foot opening (to allow enough room for a fully suited firefighter to fit through).
- They must be at least 24 inches tall and 20 inches wide.
- The maximum distance from the floor to the bottom of the window must be 44 inches.
- They must have a glass area of not less than 8% of the total floor area.
- They must have a window well if the bottom of the egress window is below ground level.
- They must be able to open and close easily, and not be hampered by the egress well.
Basement windows tend to get a real beating from water dripping off of roofs and from ground-flow rain, so they deteriorate quickly. Most windows are weather-resistant, but only to a point.
When Should You Replace A Basement Window?
To help you decide if you need to look at replacing your windows, here are a few “warning signs” that will help make up your mind!
- You struggle to open and close them.
- You can feel a draft coming from the closed window.
- There is condensation between the glass panes.
- Your energy bills are creeping up.
- The wooden frame is spongy and rotten.
- The vinyl frame is pitted and deteriorated.
- Dirt and other debris is piling up against the window.
Basement Window Placement Factors
So now you’ve decided you need a basement window replacement, you have to decide where to put it! Here are some things to keep in mind when considering the positioning of the window.
- Which direction does the best natural light come from?
- How will the basement window affect the appearance of the exterior of your home?
- Do you want the replacement window to be bigger than the original window?
- If the replacement window is going to be bigger, will it be in a load-bearing wall (i.e. a wall perpendicular to floor joists)?
- Will the replacement window need a bigger header beam?
- Will you need to dig a window well to keep the window clear of dirt and debris?
- Is there electrical wiring, gas lines, or plumbing lines in the way of your proposed replacement window?
These factors should be discussed in detail with your building contractor before you start the project, as they will all affect your basement window replacement cost.
Cost of Basement Window Replacements
As you’ve seen above, there are some pretty complicated issues to factor into your window replacement costs for basements. After all, this is a room in your home that probably sits mostly underground. It has very different requirements than a standard bedroom or living room window.
If you just want to replace the glass and frames of your existing basement windows, you can probably keep your cost below $1,000 (barring any complications like structural issues, or you prefer very expensive windows).
If you want to replace the window with an egress window, plus dig a window well and install a ladder and well cover – this will involve grading, drainage, materials, tool rental, and disposal of waste material. Your price can rise to up around $8,000.
Here are the prices at a glance:
|Type of Project
|Basic window replacement
|Full egress window
|$2,000 - $8,000
There are few home improvement projects more fulfilling than turning what was originally designed as storage space into a beautiful, modern, stylish living space. The right basement window replacements can really help you make the most of this part of your home.
Basement windows should add more square footage, plus act as a source of light and ventilation, to be worth the costs involved.
While you might have swallowed pretty hard learning of the costs involved is you need an egress window, remember that it’s not only an important safety feature – it can add value to your home.