Egress window came to our minds when we decided to move our master bedroom into the basement. Colorado weather is dry and each summer our city issues fire warning for several months. Adding an egress in our basement bedroom not only improves fire safety, but also brings our house to code for future resale.
We also want a bigger window in the basement for better ventilation. The summer nights here are cool and it is more comfortable to sleep with windows open than using air conditioning. For maximum privacy, we decided to install the new egress in place of the existing bedroom window facing the backyard.
Above was what the east side of the bedroom looked like on last Tuesday, and below was the same angle on Saturday! You have to see it in person to appreciate how much difference the new window makes.
As expected, the new egress brings much more light into the bedroom. The light color window well also helps to reflect light inside.
We did not DIY the egress ourselves. Instead, we hired DesignCrew, who specializes in egress windows and have done work in our neighborhood on similar houses. Egress installation involves cutting into concrete foundation, which we have neither tools nor skill for.
The foundation cutting was done from the outside of the house. The window closer to the downspout in the picture above is the one we replaced with egress. When grading around the foundation we put down 6-mil plastic and gravel around the foundation, both of which had to be removed for the window replacement.
Egress window has many codes and regulations due to fire safety. We went with standard dimensions and location, with only one customization: lower the window well as much as possible so we can see the backyard. We never like standard window wells, especially the look from the inside. Since our backyard slopes down from the house, we have the option of installing the new well a few inches below the old level to get a better view of the garden.
Several codes dictate where the egress window shall be installed. First, the window has to be less than 44″ from the floor of the bedroom. Second, the window opening – not necessarily the size of the window – needs to be at least 5.7 sqft. Our current window is 32″ wide. So we chose a 32″ x 48″ casement window to satisfy these requirements.
DesignCrew moved fast. On the first day, a back hoe drove in (through our walk gate!) to excavate the soil around the window.
It was sad to see the window well we installed gone. But the demo contractor said that we did a great job installing it. So there is that.
Another worker came over the second day to cut the window opening with a diamond blade saw. On the third day, the concrete block was pulled out and the window well was installed.
You can see the new window opening on the foundation from the picture below. The framing and drywall inside were cut away later. After installing the window well, the soil was backfilled and packed down around the well and the foundation.
The bottom of the well was graded so the soil base slopes away from the house. Pea gravel was applied on top to facilitate the drainage.
This was the look from the inside right before the drywall was cut and the window was installed. The old window opening looked so small! It was only 18″ tall and we could not see any part of the backyard from the old window.
On the fifth day we welcomed window installation. The plywood was removed and the drywall behind the new opening was cut off:
Before any part of the window going in, the concrete opening was polished to create a smooth surface to which the window sill plate and jamb could be glued down. The aggregates in concrete looked so pretty!
The sill plates went in next. It was cut to size on site using pre-treated lumber.
Everything was screwed to the studs. From the picture below you can see the well was installed a few inches below the window sill, which prevents water penetration during rain storms. The well was cut short according to our request, so no ladder is needed inside of the wall for an adult person to escape (by code).
After securing the new window onto the sill and jamb on each side, the gaps around the window casing was filled and window trims were installed. We picked the simplest design of the trim to match the existing ones around the doorways.
The egress can be opened from the top like a hopper window to let cool air in. We plan to put our bed against this wall we can see the night sky from our bed. 🙂
Below is what the window looks like from the inside today. The soil behind the window well is leftover from the backfill. We will be relocating it to a future garden bed. Once it is out of the way we should be able to see more of the backyard.
The window casing outside is also finished nicely. We picked white color to match the existing basement windows.
The new metal cover is strong enough for me to walk on it:
We would like to scrape the soil around both window wells a bit lower and layer the plastic and gravel back around the foundation. You can tell from the picture below that the new well was installed much lower than bathroom window well.
Speaking of the bathroom window, we now have a new one! Remember how bad it was? We had a hard time replacing it ourselves due to its non-standard size. DesignCrew custom-made one for us and installed it with the egress window:
It might not look impressive from the outside because of our rusted window sill. But it is the perfect window for this small bathroom. It is tempered for safety, obscured for privacy, and a hopper style so we can open it from the top to let moisture out. We are very happy with the result:
Much better from the old window:
It is so nice to cross the basement window work off our to-do list. We are also very pleased with the professional work our contractor did. This is the first time any contractor moved faster than I could anticipate, which was scary but exciting at the same time. We signed the contract on Jan 11th and by the 19th, all the work was completed. It is pretty impressive given that the excavation, foundation cutting, window well installation, and window installation was done by four different teams of contractors, plus a custom-made window. If you live in Denver area and wanted to do some window/door work, I highly recommend DesignCrew.
With the egress window installed and bathroom window replaced, we are moving onto the next phrase of the future master suite construction. Plumbing, electrical, and new insulation float to the top of the priority list. Cannot wait to show you our progress in the next post!