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Bedroom Egress Code Requirements

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It’s common for people to build a new home with the intention of adding a bedroom in the future.  Whether finishing a basement or adding living space to your attic, a bedroom addition can help to accommodate a growing family.  If you are thinking you might add living space to your new home in the future, it’s important to understand the building code requirements for egress when planning the structure.  This can save you big money when you finally decide to tackle the project down the road.

What is Egress?

So what do we mean when we say, “bedroom egress requirement?”  Because many deaths are caused by occupants being asleep at the time of a fire, the building codes require all bedrooms have doors or windows that can be used for rescue or escape during an emergency.  The code says that bedrooms need at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening that opens directly to the exterior of the building.

Egress Window Requirements

If a window is going to be used to fulfill the egress requirement for a bedroom, there are specific details you should be aware of.  Here are the specifics you will want to include in a window used for egress for a future bedroom…

  • Clear Area of Opening:  This is the open space between the jambs of the window when it is fully opened.  The minimum clear opening is 5.7 square feet.
  • Clear Width of Opening:  The minimum width for the egress window opening is 20 inches.

  • Clear Height of Opening:  The minimum height for the egress window opening is 24 inches.

  • Height of Opening:  The maximum height from the floor to the opening of the egress window is 44 inches.


If you plan to add a bedroom in your basement in the future, you will need to meet the requirements noted above, along with a few others.  Any emergency escape and rescue opening that has a sill height below ground level should have a window well.  This well will hold back the earth around the window to provide space for escape.

The window well should have a horizontal area of at least nine square feet, with a minimum horizontal projection and width of 36 inches.  If the emergency escape window is located under a deck or porch, the structure above should allow the window to be fully opened, and the escape path should be at least three feet in height.  A door can also be used for egress from the basement bedroom in place of the escape window. 

Of course all building codes are specific to the local area in which you are building.  Be sure to consult with your local building department before finalizing your plans.  By knowing the local code requirements for bedroom egress and incorporating them into the design, your future living space addition will be much easier to accomplish.

Michael Luckado

Michael Luckado has built, remodeled, and repaired thousands of homes across the U.S. He co-founded to help people save money and time creating their dream home.

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