Home Improvement Blog

DIY Basement Egress Window Installation

Posted by william bateman on Tue, Dec 06, 2022 @ 09:21 AM

Egress windows are required by national code for any finished basement with a bedroom essentially installed as a fire escape window in the case of emergency. In any scenario tho finished or not an egress window is a good idea to install for safety plus the added light and ventilation is a plus for any basement. While installation may be hard work and not for everyone with a little background experience and proper tools the dog-it-yourselfer can tackle it.

Tools you will need for installation:

  • Backhoe or excavator (unless digging by hand)
  • Concrete saw
  • Jackhammer
  • Power saw
  • Level and square
  • Shovel and pick
  • Staple gun
  • Caulk gun
  • Shovel and rake


When looking for placement of window usually try and go for a spot where there is usually a window already. This will make it less complicated to get through concrete wall and install. You can rent a concrete saw with a diamond blade and have saws too that can cut straight through eliminating a lot of the jackhammering involved. Getting through the wall is going to be the hardest part. 


5 things to know about egress window codes before starting:

  • Need a window at least 5.7 sq. ft.
  • Net clear of 20" when opened(I usually order window with larger net clear of 22")
  • No more than 44" inside sill height from basement floor
  • 9 sq. ft. minimum inside dimensions of window well installed
  • No more than 44" depth inside window well without a ladder installed


When ordering an egress window, most every application will work best by using a casement window. You will next have to determine the swing of the window left or right and do so by situating an emergency where you want the window to open clear to a safe place off property. Next is choosing a window well outside of your egress window. You can easily construct your own like in the video using 6x6 pressure treated lumber or Bilco offers a line of composite window wells you can install that also offer a cover to protect from the weather.



7 things you should know about installing a window well:

  • Always dig deeper than window
  • You can use concrete from wall removed as a good base and drainage 
  • Fill base with 3/4" aggregate just below window
  • If you have area with proper slope to daylight consider installing a drain
  • Check local codes as some want drainage to tie in with footing drain(which I do not agree with mixing two different systems)
  • Try and maintain 44" inside depth or ladder will need to be installed. Prefab Bilco units have steps already built it
  • If cover is added make sure fastening clips are installed towards the from for easy escape if necessary 

5 benefits of adding an egress window:

  • Added safety during a time of emergency 
  • Added light to your basement
  • Added ventilation especially beneficial for moist basements
  • Help control humidity
  • Great access for getting materials and/or content into basement(obviously within limit)

Installing an egress window may not be exactly for the novice but a little background, the right equipment and strength it can be done. In the videos we used a regular diamond blade to cut and then jackhammer which has worked sufficiently for years but now have a saw that cuts straight through making it a bit easier. Hope this helps and wish anyone luck performing a DIY installation

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Topics: Monroe NY, orange county ny, General Contractor, Construction, basements, egress windows, excavation, fire escape, foundation