Traditional basements in older homes have always had the stigma of being dark, gloomy, damp, and basically unlivable. Thankfully the basements of today are being built with extra room for expanding families in mind.
Unfortunately, smaller windows are what contractors usually install into the basements of new homes, and unless you’re having the home built to your own specifications, you can almost plan on your new home needing replacement windows in the basement. Older homes usually come with basements that have smaller windows that give out very little light, if any at all.
Many people look to their basement as a possibility for an extra bedroom, laundry room, or perhaps even a family room. In many cases the need for light becomes an important feature for the family to be able to perform daily living functions that a dark room would otherwise prohibit,
not to mention that the appearance of small, ugly windows wouldn’t be as presentable as that of larger windows that offer the choice of flexibility when the need for proper ventilation arrives. It also stands to reason that most basements only have one flight of steps and the need for another emergency exit is critical.
This is where Egress windows come in handy, and they aren’t too expensive if they are done without the aid of a contractor. In fact you can save hundreds of dollars by doing this project yourself. They are relatively easy to install and will help with heating and cooling costs.
Egress windows are usually required by code in new basement construction, especially if bedrooms are part of the plan. The code requirements and local regulations can vary so you will need to talk with someone about your planned project at the code’s administration office before you install your Egress windows. Before you purchase any supplies, you must have the measurements necessary to pass the building codes.
Egress windows must provide an unobstructed opening of 5.7 square feet. The height can be no less than 24 inches and the width can be no less than 20 inches. They must easily allow a person to be able to exit easily through their opening. To begin with the installation of your new Egress window you will need a concrete saw to cut an opening in the cement wall. These can be rented at most hardware stores.
Other tools needed for this project are a level, carpenters’ square, chisel, hammer, tape measure, level, caulking gun, putty knife, and a utility knife. You will also need to have your window units ready as well as insulation, wood shims, concrete and galvanized nails. You then need to mark the area that you will be cutting.
After cutting out your window opening, knock the cement out with a large hammer and then clean the area really well, chiseling any excess concrete away for a clean, straight surface. You will next build a wood window box to fit the opening with 2×8 treated lumber. Install the foam insulation to fit between the window frame and the opening.
After securing the window into the frame you will need to completely caulk the outside edge of the window box. The window to be installed should have metal trim or fin surrounding it with holes for nailing the window securely to the wood window frame. You will need to caulk between the trim and basement wall also.
If you so desire, this is the time to put up the window trim, sand, and paint. After completing the installation of the windows you will need to check for proper drainage at each window. To keep rain and other water from coming through your window’s you will need to dig a hole about a foot deep at the base of each window.
Fill this hole with pea gravel. You can also dig a 2′ wide trench leading downhill away from the windows and line them with a plastic pipe leading to a drain-source. Fill the trench with gravel, covering the plastic pipe as you fill the trench.