We helped one homeowner find an affordable solution to comply with the basement egress code for his rental apartment.
“When I rented out my basement, I hoped I’d be earning money from it,” writes Jeff Kotzer, from Sitzer, Wisconsin. “But after the township found out, I ended up facing a big bill instead.”
Jeff was facing a situation similar to that of hundreds of thousands of American homeowners – those whose finished basements don’t meet national building code. Townships and regulators nationwide have stepped up inspections and enforcements and – as a result – people like Jeff are on the hook.
“I was told I had to get my basement up to code, or I’d face a hefty fine,” he told us.
The issue facing Jeff was that his finished basement had no “means of egress” – an emergency exit for residents to use in the event of a fire. Installing one, Jeff feared, would be expensive.
But while it’s true there are some unavoidable expenses involved – especially when hiring a contractor to do the digging and cutting that’s required to install egress windows – how much you spend on this project can vary hugely.
Take Jeff’s case: When he first called, we recommended he purchase one of our Easy Egress Wells to save money and comply with building code. Manufactured by Boman Kemp out of tough and durable galvanized steel, it’s the most affordable egress window well available and looks great in a natural-looking NatraStone finish.
“After talking to you guys at EgressWindows.com, and with my contractor here in Sitzer, I decided to purchase a complete window well kit from you.” Jeff selected our Easy Egress Kit – which contains not just the Easy Egress Well, but also a 48” window and frame, a ladder and both a cover and grate for the window well.
“That left my contractor responsible for hiring a digger, purchasing pea gravel to use as a backfill and actually cutting through my basement wall to install everything.”
And the result?
“I’m not going to lie,” Jeff admits. “I still would have preferred not to spend the money – but at least I got the job done. Now I’m approved by the township, I can rent out my basement and hopefully start making some of my money back.”
And from a realtor’s point of view, Jeff might already have done that: Installing an egress window and getting his basement up to code added a substantial figure to his property value.
“On paper, it’s more than paid for itself,” Jeff explains. “I don’t have any plans to sell in the near future, but knowing that makes me feel better about the expense.”
There’s one other thing that helps Jeff feel better about the cost of installing a means of egress – “at least now I know that whoever rents my basement will be safe.” He admits: “the cost of installing egress windows isn’t easy to swallow; but when you’re talking about saving people’s lives, I guess it’s still a bargain.”