Meeting Egress Requirements with a Basement Rental Apartment: Making the Most of your Space

Posted on May 7, 2013 | in Thoughts | by

Over the course of the next few blog posts, we’ll be examining some of the best ways to expand your home and make use of your available basement space. In this post we will address the right way to meet egress requirements for a finished basement turned rental apartment.

America is in the midst of a crisis right now – even a couple of years after the recession supposedly ended.

The problem is that millions of American homeowners have been hit hard by the housing crash and now owe more on their homes than their properties are actually worth.

One solution some homeowners have embraced is trying to flip the dynamic – and get their homes to pay them for a change. One way of doing that is to rent out part of your house as a second apartment.

There are two routes you can take to doing this – the right way, and the wrong way.

The right way is according to your local town or city’s regulations, and in accordance with national building codes. For most homeowners, that involves at the very least adding a “means of egress” to a basement in addition to the drywall, flooring and fixtures required to turn a basement into a finished apartment.

A “means of egress” is some kind of escape route in the event of a fire or other disaster – normally an egress basement window well which allows basement occupants to climb out of a specially constructed window and climb out onto the ground above.

Far too many people who decide to finish their basement and rent it out skip the step of installing a basement window – normally because of cost, or sometimes due to the inconvenience. But ultimately, any money they “save” taking the easy route will need to be paid back many times over.

The first and most awkward problem homeowners who rent out a basement apartment without a “means of egress” face is bureaucratic. If a township hears about an apartment that doesn’t meet code, it could mean a fine in the tens of thousands of dollars – and a requirement to install an egress window before being allowed to rent the apartment out again.

Creating a rental apartment that doesn’t meet code also impacts a home’s value. While a rental apartment normally increases a home’s value, that’s not the case if it doesn’t meet code – because when the house hits the market, a homeowner will often be required to bring their basement “up to code” before a new purchaser signs the contract.

But the real reason creating a basement apartment that doesn’t meet code is the “wrong” idea is because of what could happen in the event of an emergency.

If you rent out a basement apartment that doesn’t have a means of egress, it could be disastrous. In the event of a fire, the occupants could be trapped downstairs; and overcome within minutes by smoke or fumes. permanent

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About Me

Hi, I'm Jeff. I will be using this space to share my thoughts and opinions that I have accumulated over many years in the building industry. My hope is to also teach and inspire.

This will also be a location for important industry news and product information. Featured items and sales can also be found here. Subscribe, or check back often to keep up to date on what is happening in the world of Egress Windows.

I welcome comments on any of the posts and I would love to get suggestions from you for topics you would like to learn about in upcoming posts.

Jeff Ommundsen
(229) 234-7377
President of Shop Egress Windows, Inc.