Egress Window Requirements

Are you planning to finish your basement and add a few bedrooms?

It will certainly make your basement more usable and will increase the value of your home. However, you have to do it right, and by “right” we mean following building codes and other local regulations.

The thing is, you can’t just put a bed in a room and call it a bedroom. It will be a bedroom in your understanding, but not in the eyes of the appraiser and realtor. Don’t forget the egress window requirements.

While there are not any strict state or federal definitions of what a bedroom is and what a bedroom requires, local governments of the Dallas, Madison, Polk, and Warren counties in Iowa agree that in order to be considered a bedroom they must have an egress window and a closet.

What is an Egress Window? 

Simply put, an egress window is a way to exit your home directly and safely to the outside, without having to use the stairs and go through the main level of the home.


How does an egress window differ from a standard basement window?

Most below-grade basements have at least one window for ventilation, but often these are too small and too high to accommodate safe evacuation. Egress windows are specifically designed to allow easy exit of occupants or entrance by emergency personnel.


What are the egress window requirements?

Some of the requirements for egress windows in Iowa specifically include:

-Sill height not more than 44″ above floor

-The minimum opening area of 5.7 sq. ft.

-Opening height not less than 24″

-Opening width not less than 20″


Window well required where the sill height is below ground:

The minimum clear horizontal dimension should allow the window to be fully opened and provide a minimum clear opening of 9 square feet with a minimum dimension of 36”.


Ladder and steps requirements include:

Window wells with a vertical depth greater than 44” equipped with a permanently affixed ladder or steps that are usable when the window is in the fully open position

Ladders or rungs must have an inside width of at least 12”, project at least 3” from the wall and be spaced not more than 18” on center vertically for the full height of the window well.

Required ladder or steps are permitted to encroach a maximum of 6” into the required dimensions of the window well.

Emergency escape windows shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys or tools. If have a grate or cover on the well, they must be removable without special tools.


How Many Egress Windows are Required?

A basement that is below-grade level on all sides will need a minimum of one egress window, as well as one in each basement bedroom (including guest rooms). Walk-out basements already have proper egress (usually a patio door), but bedrooms in walk-out basements also need at least one egress window.


Before adding an Egress Window call BAM

BAM Basements and Masons of Des Moines is your premier basement egress window company serving the Des Moines, Iowa area. If you’re located in Des Moines, Ankeny, Bondurant, Altoona, Pleasant hill, Ames, Adel, Waukee, Indianola, Grimes, Urbandale, Johnston, West Des Moines, or the surrounding areas, we’re the place to call. We can help you avoid costly and stressful foundation repair mistakes, by giving you a customized solution that’s going to work for you and your home long term. BAM Basements and Masons of Des Moines is a professional and locally owned and operated state-registered contractor. We offer affordable honest upfront pricing, no hidden costs, offer free estimates and limited lifetime warranties

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