Choosing the Right Egress Window for Your Home
There are several reasons homeowners consider basement egress windows. Some homeowners look at the practical value: protecting their family in case of a fire, adding natural light to a dark basement space, or ensuring building code compliance. They may also want to increase their home's resale value by making an unused basement space into a legal bedroom. Certainly, egress windows are a good investment, and it's important to consider the average cost whether you plan to DIY or hire a contractor.
Like most things, the cost of an egress window can range widely depending on the type of materials and/or the contractor you choose. Below are a few important factors every homeowner should consider to ensure a successful basement egress window installation.
Avoid DIY Error
Owning a home is often a crash course in basic do-it-yourself repair and maintenance. However, there are some projects that require the expertise of a professional contractor. Because of the steps involved in installing an egress window - removing and replacing stud walls, cutting through poured concrete or cinder block foundations and properly sealing to avoid water seepage - an egress window installation is not typically a weekend warrior project. There are also fairly strict rules that govern the height, width, and distance from the floor that egress windows can be installed. Missing even one of those code requirements can result in your basement area not qualifying as a finished space.
Most importantly, failure to properly determine the placement of your basement egress window can result in the unintentional compromising of your home's structural integrity. Adding extra light to your basement seems unimportant if the floors and walls of your home begin to buckle or sag due to an incorrectly placed egress window. Unless you possess significant engineering or construction knowledge, any project that involves alterations to the foundation walls of your home is best left to the experts.
Choose the Right Contractor
There certainly is a right way and a handful of wrong ways to install an egress window. Choosing the wrong contractor to install your egress window can lead to major headaches and expenses down the road. Improper installation can lead to structural and/or water issues that can be very disruptive and expensive to repair. Hiring a contractor who will take the appropriate measures to protect your foundation and control the water is critical. A knowledgeable contractor will be able to determine if a drain should be installed outside the window or be tied to an existing drainage system.
If the existing drainage system is malfunctioning, it may be time to consider adding a new interior drainage system that will control any water that enters from around the window. Long-term warranties are often provided with this added system. That added warranty provides peace of mind should potential issues show up down the road. Also, it is important that the soil around the egress window be properly compacted after installation. Without proper compaction, water can easily seep in around the window. As you can see from the scenarios listed, it's extremely important to hire a contractor who is an expert at egress window installations.
Choose the Right Egress Window
There are many different sizes, styles, and qualities of egress windows. All of those factors have an impact on the overall price. When it comes to the size of the window, it is important to make sure your contractor knows the building codes in your area and that the window is code compliant. Obviously, the bigger the window is, the easier it is for you and your family to make an easy escape. There are two main types of basement egress windows; sliding windows and crank windows. Crank windows can take longer to open in an emergency and can also require more regular maintenance. Sliding windows are simpler and are exactly what they sound like - windows that slide open on a track. There are many different brands of egress windows and it is important to choose the quality and installation type that meets your specific needs.
Which Window Well?
There are many different types of window wells. The long-term and short-term aesthetics of the well, its durability, and how it helps with water prevention are all important considerations when it comes to the window well itself. Metal and modular window wells can bow or bend inwards from the pressure of the soil surrounding the well. Often times, contractors will backfill with rock to combat the significant pressure put on window wells by the surrounding soils. The problem with backfilling with rock is that you're inviting water around your window as it can easily flow between the larger gaps between the rocks. Custom wells using landscaping blocks are also prone to water leaks and require maintenance to protect against settlement.
A great, modern option are molded composite egress window wells. They are a one-piece system that can better control the water if installed properly. It's common for long-term warranties to accompany these one-piece window wells. There are also more aesthetically pleasing options available with today's composite window wells when compared to older models.
To Cover, or Not to Cover?
Even though adding a cover to your egress window can increase the cost, some homeowners choose to add a cover for additional safety so children, pets or other adults don't fall into the open well. Egress window covers can also help protect against inclement weather - think hail, snow, fall leaves, and the occasional wildlife creature that may wander through your yard.
Adding an egress window to your home is a smart investment that adds to the beauty and value of your home, but it is important to hire the right contractor who will use the proper materials. Researching your contractor, consulting references from previous customers, and making sure to clearly discuss the installation process and materials can ensure your project goes smoothly and lasts as long as possible. Our handy project checklist below can also be a big help in guiding you and your family through the process of choosing the right egress window for your home.
EGRESS WINDOW CHECKLIST:
- Schedule your complimentary estimate
- Ask for customer references and/or read customer reviews online
- Determine preferred window well type
- Determine preferred window type
- Determine preferred drainage options
- Review payment and financing options
- Finalize contractor choice & installation date
- Enjoy your new basement space!
NEED HELP IN NEBRASKA OR WESTERN IOWA?
If you're interested in an egress window consultation in Nebraska or Western Iowa, we're here to help. Our Design Specialists can perform an inspection and make a customized recommendation for your home. Contact us online to learn more.