It seems that there was a law passed that required new homes built to
have an egress window in the basement. I recall when my wife was going
to have a daycare in our old home basement, the inspector said we would
have to create an exit through one of the windows.
My question; is this true? My new home does not have this. The homes
to the East of me which were built first do not, those to the West do,
and the one going up across the street also has one.
Are they expensive to put in? If I complete my basement, are they going
to require that I put one in?
IF you convert the basement to an occupied space, then yes,
you will be required to provide a means of egress.
If it's just you and your family down there, a window that
meets certain placement and size criteria will do.
For a daycare, I'm surprised that they
didn't require an actual door.
Yes, this is what I am talking about. Its not just a window, its a
whole mini door with this bit silver tube surrounding it on the outside.
How much was that job? Did they convert a window, or bust a new hole?
I think your priorities are all out of order here...you would seriously
consider putting persons (family or no) at risk over the additional
expense of a few hundred to perhaps a thousand in expense????
I had my basement finished, almost. I could leave it as it is, but I
choose to investigate how to make it proper, so your question is way off.
The issue is my basement did not have a permit, so I am wondering how I
can make it to code. Is there an inspector I can pay that wont turn me
in to the city. I dont want those city inspectors to come to my house
with an attitude, but I still want the things done correctly.
Especially 20 years later when we want to sell and are no longer working.
Your initial wording was almost 180 degrees out w/ the followup...
You can certainly ask for building code requirements. What your local
jurisdiction might choose to do re: the unpermitted work is beyond what
can be projected remotely. Here, voluntarily, they would most likely let
you get by w/ getting the permit altho if you're past inspection time
there could be costs assessed for the extra work required. Other places
may not be nearly as lenient.
You pose the question "you would seriously consider putting persons
(family or no) at risk over the additional expense of a few hundred to
perhaps a thousand in expense????". I think the answer to that
question is that just about everyone we know does every day. When we
drive instead of flying and renting a vehicle we put our families at
risk because flying is safer than driving per mile. When we do not
upgrade our breakers to AFCI's (*even though we are not required to) we
put our families at increase risk of burning to death. If you haven't
tested your basement for Radon you could be putting your family at in
increased risk of cancer. What if you eat a nice juicy red steak and
widow your wife because you have a heart attack which could have been
prevented with better diet? Every day we put pleasure or money or
convenience over safety. This does not indicate a problem. There
needs to be a trade off between the dangers and the rewards. Sometimes
it is better to save a few bucks and risk killing a room full of
people. I am not sexist but women especially have a hard time grasping
this very important notion. The money for that second means of egress
could save several starving children's lives elsewhere in the world.
Are you going to let them die? I am sorry to say but sometimes
feasibility and practicality has to win out.
Some, yes. The fly vs drive argument is short term risk vs a long term
risk posed here. Others posed have varying levels of risk benefit.
IMO, the risk of putting sleeping kids in a basement area w/o the egress
solution is an excessive one that can virtually always be solved for
relatively minimal cost. You, of course, are allowed to have a
differing opinion (but not a legal residence in any locale I'm aware
Would I consider one night for spare space? Sure, assuming other
conditions satisfactory. But as permanent space? No...
Drive vs fly? Well, having travelled for nearly 30 years, I'll be just
as pleased if I never even see a plane again, but after the number of
crazies and near-misses coming home from Raleigh a month ago, I may
Slow down. Did you read the original post? Where did he say he was putting
kids in bedrooms?
He said he was going to "complete" the basement. That may mean a nice
laundry room and a game room. If (note: I said "if") that is the case, it is
not such a big deal. I agree if he is going tp put bedrooms.
In any case, none of us here can no his local codes because we don't even
know where he lives. The simple solution is to ask the building inspector.
Some are jerks, but most are very happy to assist you.
Yes, I did...I simply suggested to OP that if (as his initial tone
suggested) he was trying to get out of spending a few extra bucks on a
remodel by averting code he was possibly thinking of the problem wrong
end round. (I did make an assumption that he wouldn't be worried about
code reqm't if it weren't a part of the finishing that there could be
bedrooms as part of the plan, granted). OPs followup was almost a 180
degree turnaround in tone from his first and I then (sorta') apologized
and suggested essentially identical action as you just did.
But, CL jumped all over me for suggesting that I was/am a
"sky-is-falling" type to have suggested the door w/ an (imo)
over-the-top response which I didn't think could be ignored entirely...
So, the above response was in followup to the follwup, <not> to OP...
most all building codes across the nation have required this for many years,
I even built a home in Alabama in 1977 and it was required then
yes, they would likely require it
if your basement is not fully below ground, it is not too bad of a job
I built a 3' x 3' hole around each new basement window, and filled it with
gravel for drainage, worked great
I bricked the sides of the egress "hole" to keep the yard from landsliding
into to hole
forgot to mention, we also built awnings over each window hole, to further
discourage water filling up hole during rainy times
the windows used were aluminum windows that slid open sideways, not
expensive at all, and a great safety feature for the family
"most all building codes across the nation have required this for many
I even built a home in Alabama in 1977 and it was required then "
If you're talking about having two means of exiting for a living space,
then I agree. However, he's claiming new homes in his area all have
this in basements? Here in NJ it is only required if the basement is
Different areas are going to have different rules. You will need to check
your local rules for a definitive answer.
Living space (media room etc) may not require the same size exit that
sleeping areas do. This all depends on your local codes.
I am fairly sure that sleeping areas require the same size window below
grade as above. There are also some requirements that if the window opens
to a space that is more than ?? feet deep a ladder or steps must be
In NJ you only need a second means of egress in a bedroom that is located in
As for finishing your basement without a permit, I suggest that you fess up.
Have a talk with your building inspector and admit what you did was wrong.
Ask him what you need to do to make it right. It may not be as bad as you
imagine as requirements can vary from town to town. He may want to see a
drawing showing walls, bathroom, electrical outlets, lighting, furnace,
water heater, stairs, etc., but it probably can be one that you do instead
of paying an architect.
Inspectors get a lot of contractors and owners trying to pull a fast one.
They will respect someone who demonstrates a willingness to do something the
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