When we upgraded the dark basement in our 30-year-old, three-bedroom home we had two main goals: Add more light and turn the space into a legitimate fourth bedroom. These are the easy steps we followed to install an egress window, and it only took a few days.
Before we started: We researched local code requirements. Egress windows typically need an opening of 5.7 square feet, but this can be a little tricky as some codes measure the open-window area while others include the glass. To be safe, we measured 6 square feet for a vertical casement window. We also pre-ordered our regulation-sized window at least two weeks before we began digging the hole.
Tools and materials: Caulk, hammer, standard and concrete nails, concrete saw, level, tape measure, insulation, shovels, dust mask, goggles, wood for window well and trim, mortar, paint, primer
Step 1: Dig, dig, dig. This was pretty straightforward work. We shoveled all the dirt and relocated it within our yard. We made the hole 6 inches deeper than the bottom of our future window. While it was self-explanatory, it took more time than we expected. My husband and I dug our window well in about two days -- but wow were we sore. If you are thinking about asking family or friends for help, this would be the time to do so.
Step 2: Measure the hole for the window well frame. Though requirements for window wells differ, we created 9 square feet (36 inches in length and in width) of floor area to ensure we'd have enough room to fully open our egress window. Because our window well had a depth that exceeded 44 inches, we were required to have steps or a ladder that needed to be at least 12 inches wide and no less than 3 inches from the window well.
Step 3: Build the window well frame. We wanted a wooden window well and chose to build our well before cutting the hole for the window. That was just our preference; others may choose to cut a hole for the window first. We purchased our knotty pine wood and built while in the hole. There are many other options available, but I love the outdoorsy look of our wooden well.
Step 4: Remove old window and foundation.We borrowed a concrete saw from a construction buddy of ours and cut into our foundation. Word of advice: Wear eye protection and a dust mask; the air became quite thick as we cut into the foundation. Once the opening was cut on both sides, we tapped on the upper blocks with a hammer to ease the old window out of place. After all the obstructing mortar was removed, we built the pressure-treated box to fit the window opening and made sure the outer edge of the box was flush with the outside of the block wall.
Step 5: Install the window.We nailed the pressure-treated box to the sill plate and secured it with concrete nails. Our untrimmed window had metal fins on each side that could be folded to help secure the window to the frame. An ample amount of caulk also helped. Then one person lifted the box from the outside and another from the inside to assist with leveling and mounting it properly.
After the window was in, mortar filled the gaps between the box and the concrete wall. On the outside, the top trim was cut to fit and nailed into the siding recess. At last, the seams all around the window were filled in and we then were able to prime and paint the trim.
Step 6: Complete the interior. The finish inside of our new bedroom was wooden casing. We purchased trim and just began trimming around the inside perimeter of the framed opening. We also insulated between the casing and box with J-channel, and caulked the gap between the channel and the casing for more insulation. Lastly, we nailed on the trim and I have to say it looked perfect!