The benefits of a basement door can be preferable to egress windows or a nice addition to them. Most local building codes require both a door and a window as emergency egress or escape in order for the basement to be considered safe enough to be used as a living area. Additionally, building codes may require an emergency egress be placed in every bedroom.
Egress doors are a more involved project than windows. Expect the costs to be significantly higher because the foundation structure will be modified. During new home construction, this process is much easier to plan and execute than for a basement remodeling project. Be certain to use a qualified foundation contractor to assist with your selection, preparation, and installation. As the structure of your foundation will be affected, you will want to avoid costly errors compromising the structural integrity of your home.
Many older homes lack adequate escape opportunities for the basement because in the past they were used for storage. Now a number of people are realizing that utilizing the basement area for living space is a less costly option than a full-scale addition. The last thing anyone wants is to place their loved ones in jeopardy. Because many older homes do not have egress escape windows or doors, at least one of these options should be the first item considered during a basement remodeling project.
There are a number of door options available through several manufacturers. The end result of the outside entry appearance will most likely hinge on whether the door is used for emergency purposes only or on a more regular basis. Again, a qualified foundation contractor can assist in the selection process. Whether the choice is a bulkhead, permentry, precast, access, access hatch, fire-rated, sidewalk or a vault door; the contractor is best suited for adhering to the local building ordinances, IRC 2003, and other important regulations.
For existing homes, the foundation will have to be reviewed for the optimal exit points in relation to the integrity of the structure. This will require extensive digging to expose and cut the foundation for the entry. Adequate ceiling clearance will be needed for the door height, as well as proper framing for the door unit. The pitch and height of the stairs is usually best handled by installing a precast stairway or precast runners. Often, the precast options afford the best cost savings.
By adding all of the necessary emergency egress requirements to your basement, you are essentially turning an otherwise unsafe area of your home into a safe one and adding the benefits of natural sunlight to a previously darkened area. This is an investment that will allow you to add living space to your home without the complications of a full-scale addition.
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