Building a basement bedroom is a great way to use space in your home that might otherwise be wasted. But you have to embark on a project like this correctly — not just because you want it to serve you well, but because you must adhere to strict building codes that apply to basement bedrooms.
Most municipalities require basement bedrooms to have a point of egress, or a window or door to escape through in case of fire. Specific rules and dimensions may vary, but generally speaking, they are:
The windowsill must not be more than 44 inches from the ground. The intention here is that a person must be able to easily climb out the window in case of emergency.
Some regions will allow windows that are higher up than 44 inches if permanent stairs or a ladder are installed underneath. (Leaving a kitchen chair under the window doesn’t count. You know what would happen — it would end up covered with clothes, or you would bring it upstairs for a dinner guest and forget to put it back.)
Providing steps up is a good idea regardless of the height. If you have children who regularly sleep in the basement or who occasionally host sleepovers down there, they will benefit from help reaching the windows. Ditto for elderly guests or anyone who may have a limitation or who has suffered an injury.
The windows must open to offer at least 5.7 square feet of space (5 if your windows are less than 44 inches from the floor.
Windows must be a minimum of 24 inches high and 20 inches wide. This assures that the windows are not only large enough for you to escape through, but also for rescue personnel in full gear to get into (and out of again, possibly with a victim).
Codes often require ceilings to be a certain height as well.
Get Expert Help
When considering finishing your basement space, it’s best to consult a professional. In many areas, it’s not just bedrooms that require specifics for egress — it’s any type of living space, including offices, rec rooms or home theaters.
It’s true that fire is more dangerous when you are asleep, since you likely are unaware of the danger at this time, but if you are in the basement watching television or working when a fire starts, you still need a means of escape.
Lower Home Values
Make sure your family stays safe by following all the rules set up to protect you.
Even if you don’t believe an emergency can ever happen in your basement, not following codes can affect the price of your home, should you ever decide to sell. Spaces without proper egress cannot be counted as living spaces, so the square footage of your home will be much lower in your real estate listing. You may think you have four bedrooms, but you may be prohibited from counting a subterranean one without the proper escapes built in.
If you are thinking of converting your basement to more living space, or you already have and you want to bring it up to code, call Falk Construction. We can plan and execute an entire basement refinishing project, or we can enlarge window openings and install window wells to add needed safety (and light!) to your basement.
Build a basement bedroom that’s beautiful, functional and up to code — call Falk Construction today.