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Egress Window Frequently Asked Questions

What is an egress window?

By definition, an egress window is a large opening in a dwelling which provides an emergency exit in the event of a fire. Beyond providing a secondary escape route, an egress window additionally enhances a basement space with natural light and ventilation. Residential safety codes require egress windows for basement bedrooms and living spaces. These code requirements define specific window sizes, based on the living space, and other measurements, such as height from the floor, to ensure safe exit.

How much does an egress window cost?

The cost of an egress window varies based on its specifications and other installation variables, but the Bright Idea Egress solution is specifically designed to be more cost effective than traditional solutions, with our complete egress window kits starting at $1725 and install process engineered for additional cost savings.

The Bright Idea Egress window kit design requires less excavation than any other solution. The most significant labor component in egress window installation is excavation, which involves not only digging the dirt out but a corresponding effort in backfilling and hauling excess dirt away. The amount of dirt removed not only translates into cost, but also into potential risk to your foundation. Our patented steel Exo-Frame and unique window well design with interior flanges involve significantly less excavation than any competitive solution, thereby resulting in a lower total cost.

If you're a capable DIY handyman and complete all the work, including excavation, the foundation cut and using one of our kits, your basic egress window starts at $1725.

If you do the dig, but outsource the foundation cut and egress kit installation to a contractor, we typically see a total installation cost using one of our kits starting at $3050.

And if you outsource all of the work, including excavation, to a contractor, we typically see a total project cost starting at $4300, including the use of our kit.

Please note that these estimates are using our smallest egress window kit, using a 29″ x 47″ European Tilt & Turn, and do not account for construction cost variances across local markets. We are happy to clarify any details of these estimates and answer any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

How should I measure for an egress window?

Egress window code is a requirement intended to ensure a person can escape a building through a window in an emergency. Most codes also require windows to be large enough for a firefighter with his pack on to enter through them. The minimum standards of egress window sizes are uniformly defined by building code requirements of the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC). The key concerns to conform with building code include:

  • A minimum clear opening width must be at least 20"
  • A minimum clear opening height must be at least 24"
  • A minimum clear opening size must be at least 5.7 square feet
  • The sills on egress windows can be no higher than 44 inches from the finished floor

This diagram illustrates these egress window minimum size and code requirements:


The following code requirements for both natural light and ventilation in basement settings may be required, check with your local jurisdiction:

  • For natural light, the glass area, in square feet, must be at least 8% of the total floor area that the egress window is servicing. For example: If you had an egress window that has a glass area of 48" x 48" or 16 square feet, that would service an area up to 200 square feet. 16 square feet = 8% of 200 square feet. If the basement area you wish to have serviced by an egress window is larger than this 8% rule allows, you can use multiple egress windows to achieve the minimum 8% of glass area for natural light.
  • For ventilation, the window's clear open area, in square feet, must be at least 4% of the total floor area that the egress window is servicing. For example: if you had an egress window that has a clear opening of 24" x 48" or 8 square feet. That would be able to service an area no greater than 200 square feet. 8 square feet = 4% of 200 square feet. If the basement area you wish to have serviced by an egress window is larger than this 4% rule allows, you can use multiple egress windows to achieve the minimum 4% of clear opening size for ventilation.

Do I need a permit to install an egress window?

The short answer is yes! The necessity of permitting varies by geography, but 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) requirements are enforced almost everywhere.

Some jurisdictions might also require an engineering study to obtain a permit. If you can’t find the information you’re searching for online, don’t be afraid to call your local building department for clarification on the meaning of any local code requirements.

You should also reach out to the local utilities in your area to notify them about your intent to dig on your property. Each state has an “811” number and website you can contact to have underground cables, wires and utilities marked to ensure that you’re excavating safely.

If the work is done in Colorado and you need an engineering study, please contact Al Biria at 303-332-7243. He is very familiar with the ExoFrame and will provide you with a quote for drawings and a letter of completion if necessary for your jurisdiction. If the install is happening outside of Colorado, you are welcome to download this non-stamped engineering study and use it as a reference guide.

For more in-depth information read here about everything you need to know about egress window permits.

What's included in the egress window kit?

To reduce as much guesswork as possible, we provide a complete integrated solution with every material and component required to install your egress window.

How is the egress window kit shipped to me?

The Bright Idea Egress window kit is packed on a shipping pallet, with our smallest kit size weighing in at approximately 300 pounds. When we calculate shipping costs, we default to liftgate delivery at your shipping destination. Alternately if you can pick up the kit at a nearby shipping terminal. The latter option saves you some shipping cost involved with liftgate service. Please visit our Shipping page to learn more about shipping options.