Basement egress window need be a window?


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Old 03-08-15, 11:27 PM
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Basement egress window need be a window?

I searched some online and couldn't find an answer. Egress codes always talk about a "window", but is there any reason it can't be a small door or hatch? Given that all the size & height requirements are met, I'm not sure why it wouldn't be acceptable, but maybe the code expects that an escaping person might need the outdoor light to find the window in an emergency.

I'm considering installing an egress window under a porch and since it wouldn't really get light anyways, I figure I might make it a little door. I'm aware of the need to have a 3ft high clear patch out from under the porch.

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Old 03-09-15, 04:54 AM
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AFAIK, it goes by sq ft. 5.2 or something similar. A door should certainly cover it. If the job is going to be inspected by the building dept, ask the inspector. If not, I would take a chance on the door.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 05:51 AM
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I have seen a hatch done a few times. As long as it meats the minimum opening size and can be opened from inside the bedroom I don't see how there could be a problem.

Next to one of my rental houses they converted part of the attic to a bedroom. To meet the emergency egress requirement they added a exit door to the back wall of the bedroom that led to the attic space over a car port. In the attic they built a simple walkway with hand railings leading to a set of folding stairs. It was slightly complex but it met the egress requirement.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 11:09 AM
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I like to meet or exceed building codes even if it isn't going to be inspected. If there were ever a fire the worst sin I will have committed is not paying the permit fee.

It's interesting that the codes I've perused don't use 'door' or 'hatch' language at all: always "window". I further wonder if there's an expectation that a fireman would be able to bust the glass window for entry/escape.

My understanding is that in a basement the egress window must be immediately within the bedroom, and a door to a room with an escape is not acceptable. I'm a little surprised that attic path passed inspection.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 02:12 PM
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chimpywrench, in some places, bedrooms on that level are illegal no matter what. In other words, there could be a conflict even if the exit met the code for egress but bedrooms in the basement or cellar were illegal under any circumstances. That depends on local code. If no inspection is to take place. just make sure that you have the safest egress possible & at the same time, the safest security possible.

You mentioned the attic. I was hired once to bring a house up to code. Part of the job was to install 2 egress windows, in the second floor bedrooms. It didn't make any sense to me because there were no fire escapes & not even a rope ladder. Was it to give them a faster way to jump?
 
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Old 03-09-15, 02:56 PM
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There can be a number of conditions that qualify as a legal egress/ingress opening.

The size of an egress/ingress opening is well defined as far as CLEAR opening (height, width AND area). One dimension that can vary is the maximum height of bottom of the clear opening (44" is the most common is about 44", but some areas have 42" as a maximum that can be established by local input. We have some municipalities that have lower height requirements.

I have seen 6'x8' sliding doors permitted and installed in a basement leading to a 4'x 8' "pit" area with sloped windows above for more light into a basement, ventilation and access. Manhole rungs installed in the concrete block walls were used for egress. - Not cheap, but a great feature to have in a basement where you can see a small tree growing along with ferns during a cold winter day.

One of the big inputs on codes for egress windows is the local fire departments for purpose of getting in with the necessary equipment and tanks. - Glass is not a barrier to them.

The "codes" are usually national model codes and variances may adopted for specific purposes or conditions.

Dick
 
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Old 03-09-15, 04:30 PM
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As far as I know most of the codes read "a basement bedroom must have two forms of egress." I don't remember it specifying that one must be a window. It's just that if one means is a window than it must be certain minimum size and distance from floor.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 07:18 PM
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Where does the "egress" lead to? - The fresh air of the outside, to a tuck-under garage or up a couple of steps to an exterior door? There are endless different situations.

There is always the question of code interpretation the local code official that is responsible for approvals. That is why it always pays to get a code official approval in advance on anything that could be in question. - That removes something in question from an after the fact argument with emotions to something using common sense that is not always apparent on the surface in the way code language is used.

Dick
 
 

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