“Egress” is just another way of saying “exit,” and that’s exactly what egress windows allow you to do. These windows must be large enough to provide an escape route for an average adult in an emergency.

According to most building codes, every bedroom below a home’s fourth floor must have an egress window. But usually, when homeowners discuss installing these windows, they’re finishing an attic or basement bedroom. Basement egress windows cost an average of $2,500–$5,300 for materials and labor, though above-ground windows cost a bit less.

This guide covers the various factors affecting cost and provides saving tips.

 


 

What is an Egress Window?

The International Residential Code (IRC) sets the requirements for egress windows to qualify as emergency escape and rescue openings.

  • Minimum height: 24 inches
  • Minimum width: 20 inches
  • Minimum opening: 5.7 square feet above ground or 5 square feet below ground
  • Maximum distance from the indoor floor to the window base: 44 inches

 


 

Egress Window Cost Breakdown

How much an egress window costs depends primarily on the following factors.

  • Glass quality: Windows that are double-paned or made of coated glass cost more.
  • Location: Egress windows installed above ground cost less than those that must be partially or totally below ground
  • Window type: Casement windows are the most popular, but there are other types of egress windows depending on your space.

Cost by Glass Quality

As you might expect, higher-quality glass costs more. Windows are available with one, two, or three panes of glass. More panes mean more sound insulation and energy efficiency, though double-pane is the standard. Here are some other common glass types and coatings that might be used in egress windows; these cost more than standard glass.

  • Frosted glass: This glass is textured to obscure the view and improve privacy.
  • Laminated glass: This glass includes a layer of polyvinyl between panes to keep the glass together if it breaks.
  • Low-E (emissivity) glass: This glass is coated to reflect thermal radiation and improve insulation.
  • Tempered glass: This glass is heat-treated for additional strength.
Glass TypePrice
Single-pane$100–$400
Double-pane$200–$500
Tempered glass$200–$700
Low-E$220–$550
Laminated glass$300–$650
Triple-pane$300–$800
Frosted glass$350–$800

Location

Whether the window will be installed above-ground or below-ground affects cost significantly. Windows that sit below ground require excavation and soil shoring to preserve drainage, increasing labor costs. Skylight egress windows, while less common, are also more expensive because they’re harder and more time-consuming to install.

LocationPrice
Attic$900–$3,000
Bedroom (above ground)$900–$3,000
Living room (above ground)$900–$3,000
Skylight$1,500–$4,000
Basement (below ground)$2,500–$5,300

Cost by Window Type

Egress windows also vary in price depending on their style. These are the most common types:

Window TypePrice
Single-hung$100–$400
Sliding$150–$600
Double-hung$150–$650
Casement$150–$1,000
In-swing$350–$700

Casement Windows

Casement windows are the most common egress window type. They’re hinged on one side and open with a hand crank. The entire window swings outward like a door with no need for sashes, saving space.

Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows have two sashes that can be moved up and down to open a portion of the window. Because only half of the window can be open at a time, double-hung egress windows need to be a minimum of 4 feet—twice the height of the code requirements for an emergency exit opening.

In-Swing Windows

Casement windows that open inward are called in-swing windows. They’re popular for egress windows, but the interior space around them must remain clear so they can open.

Single-Hung Windows

Single-hung windows are similar to double-hung windows except that only the lower sash moves. These are typically the least expensive windows, but they have the same problem as double-hung windows: They must be twice as tall as the legal requirement.

Sliding Windows

Sliding windows may be single or double sash, but they open horizontally. Again, this means they must be twice as wide as the requirement of 20 inches to create an opening large enough to meet building codes.

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Factors Affecting Egress Window Cost

Here are some other variables that can contribute to egress window installation costs.

Number of Window Installations

You’ll save on labor if you install several egress windows at once. Although building codes only require one per bedroom, adding additional windows will increase the space’s fresh air and natural light. If your basement is divided into more than one bedroom, you’ll need one egress window per room.

Permits and Labor

Installing an egress window typically requires a building permit and an excavation permit for below-ground windows. These can cost $50–$200 depending on your location and the extensiveness of the work. A professional contractor will be able to get the proper permits for you. They typically charge $40–$100 per hour.

Prefab vs. Custom

Egress windows are more functional than decorative, so most homeowners opt for prefabricated window frames. These cost less and are easier and cheaper to install. You can customize your egress window for a higher cost if you feel creative or have an unusual space to fit the window. Keep the code requirements for an egress window opening in mind, though.

Window Replacement

If you’re converting a previously unfinished room into a livable space, there may already be a window that doesn’t meet code requirements. You can often remove the old window, cut the hole larger, and install a new window in its place. Replacement costs are higher if more labor is required. This project can cost as little as $200 if no resizing is needed to more than $1,000 to dig a larger well.

Window Well Installation

Since egress windows need to serve as emergency exits, the area around the window must have enough space to allow a person to climb out. You’ll need to excavate a window well for below-ground egress windows. This job may require a land surveyor and structural engineer to ensure your foundation remains secure and your yard has proper drainage. These professionals charge about $500 per visit. 

The excavation usually costs $50–$300. You’ll also need an egress window well kit, costing $1,600–$3,000. This kit is typically made of fiberglass or metal. It has all the materials you need to install egress windows, including the window itself. You can also purchase the parts a la carte. High-end kits are often made to look like stone or brick.

Here are the prices for the various items needed for window well installation.

Window Well Installation Cost by Material

MaterialPrice
Stepladder$70–$260
Grate$150–$500
Well barrier$400–$2,100
Window well cover$280–$1,000
Entire kit$1,600–$3,000

 


 

Professional vs. DIY

You may be tempted to save on labor costs by installing an egress window yourself. Here’s what you can expect from both DIY and professional installation.

Professional Basement Egress Window Installation

When you cut a hole for a basement egress window, you cut a hole in your home’s foundation. Mistakes could cause flooding, mold, water damage, or structural instability. Therefore, we highly recommend hiring a professional to install a below-ground egress window. An experienced contractor will manage all aspects of the installation process, from excavation to fitting the well and cover.

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DIY Egress Window Installation

Installing an above-ground egress window is more manageable to do yourself, as it’s like installing any other window. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Double-check the window size and operation requirements, then measure and mark the space on the interior wall where the window will go.
  2. Drill a pilot hole through the wall and measure and mark the exterior wall.
  3. Build an interior support frame out from the wall joists and hang plastic sheeting for easy cleanup.
  4. Cut around the inside perimeter with a concrete saw, first as a shallow groove to follow your measurements, then halfway through the wall.
  5. Go to the exterior wall and complete the cuts there.
  6. Knock out the concrete blocks, smooth the sides of the hole, and patch holes with concrete.
  7. Install the wooden window frame and caulk to seal it.
  8. Remove the support frame and lift the window into place, installing according to manufacturer instructions.

 


 

Signs That You Need to Install an Egress Window

Not all rooms need egress windows, but here are some circumstances when they’re necessary.

  • You want to use the basement or attic as a bedroom.
  • You or your family spend a lot of time in your finished basement.
  • The room needs better lighting or ventilation.
  • You want to increase the square footage of your home’s habitable space.

 


 

How To Save on Egress Windows

Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a professional, here are some ways to keep costs down.

  • Install a prefabricated window instead of a customized one.
  • Choose basic models and features.
  • Pick a simple window well kit instead of one designed to look like a more expensive material.
  • Get at least three estimates from professional contractors and ask about price matching.

 


 

Our Conclusion

A finished basement or attic can increase your living space, raising your home’s value. These projects require installing egress windows, which provide emergency exits and better light and airflow. An experienced DIYer can install an above-ground egress window, but we recommend hiring a professional for below-ground or more complex projects.

 


 

FAQs About Egress Window Cost

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