Basement Egress

Trying to decipher what the IRC is explaining about emergency egress in basements. I understand all bedrooms in basements need emergency egress windows. Does the actual basement living space need an egress window as well, even though the bedrooms have them?

Tyler Tachell

The basement needs a means of escape and rescue, if there is a sleeping room or not. This does not always require a a window.

*Basements, habitable attics and every sleeping room shall have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening.

*Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, emergency egress and rescue openings shall be required in each sleeping room.

So to answer your question, no.

Clear as mud! :wink:


OK, to expand on this discussion/subject:
This section doesn’t limit itself to windows but also doors with thresholds below grade and has a “Bulkhead Enclosure” aka Bilco hatch?
I just inspected a house with a finished basement, no sleeping rooms, with such a set-up. photo attached.
There is a door through the foundation wall then another one into the large occupied space (well over 200 sq ft), creating a connector housing the electric panel and well pressure tank as well as storage shelves. I would assume this would comply with the 310.3 Bulkhead enclosure requirement for “direct access to the basement”.
But, that section also requires compliance with R311.7.8.2 Continuity which requires handrails continuous from top to bottom of stairs. It seems strange that the code would allow a person to crawl out of a window, 44" off the floor into a 3’x3’ hole and then up a ladder another 44" or more but figure they need a handrail go up 7’ of steps?
Any thoughts or comments on how to mention this in the report? I would normally mention this set up would not qualified for a sleeping room but does it meet the intent of the code for the basement?

I can explain that. If you have stairs, people use them (even when there is no emergency)… so you need a handrail. If you have a window that leads to window well that leads to a ladder, no one will use it (except in an emergency)… so you don’t need a handrail.

Nick did you not have boys or did you forget what it was like being a boy:D:D

Also… I can’t ever remember reading a news article about someone falling while crawling, or seeing a ladder with handrails along it’s full length! (Except perhaps specialty ladders). :roll: