How to Install a Metal Window Well
A metal window well can be installed either during or after construction. While the project is easier during the initial construction process, it's still fairly easy to install after the fact. Window wells allow you to add natural light and ventilation to areas of the house under the foundation line.
Step 1 - Decide on Elevation
Some cities have restrictions on the height of a finished window well. In most cases, it's just a few inches above the graded land. Check your local codes before you decide on the height. Remember that the higher the well is, the less of a view the window will provide. A high window well can also restrict the amount of light that enters.
Step 2 - Excavation
Once you know how high the well will be, dig out the area. Plan on digging a hole that is twice the height of the well. If you already have a foundation drain pipe, you can connect to it once you dig. If you don't have a foundation drain in place, now would be a good time to dig a trench for one.
Step 3 - Place the Well
A metal window well will be easy to slide into place. Depending on the size of the well you are creating, the metal may be placed in sections. The base section is placed first. The rounded sections of the well will be placed next.
Step 4 - Bolt to Foundation
Most window well kits will come with anchors that can be used to keep the well secure against the foundation. Attach these anchors before you begin to backfill.
Step 5 - Backfill
To keep the well secure, use the dirt you removed during excavation as backfill. This step can take some time because you will need to fill, pack, then fill the dirt again. This process needs to be repeated until the well is packed completely. Gravel is used for additional drainage.
Step 6 - Add Ladder
Most local codes now require a ladder to be placed in any type of egressed or welled window to use as an evacuation method. You can generally purchase a simple hanging ladder to place over the edge of the well. If you choose to use that, reinforce it to the ground to make it sturdy.
The other option is to install a permanent ladder. You can purchase a well ladder at any home improvement store. Just bolt it in place with the provided hardware.
Adding a metal window well is not a simple job. The excavation process alone can take a long time and be back breaking work. If the window is large, you may want to consider hiring a contractor, or at least renting some tools.
Trying to do so with just shovels will be back breaking work. You also need to understand the importance of foundation drainage before you embark on a project of this magnitude.