My name is Tom Lopatosky. I’m the President of LOPCO Contracting (www.LopcoContracting.com) and I’m honored to have the opportunity to talk to you about home improvement on a monthly basis. I love answering your questions! Please send them to tom@LopcoContracting.com or call 401-270-2664. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this column!
Many folks often daydream about the types of home improvements that they would like to see occur in their home, if they had the opportunity to do so.
At the top of the list, more times than not, is to “finish” the basement.
Thoughts of having a ‘Man Cave,’ or shifting an older child to their own lair and the like, are quite enticing, and typically serve as the catalyst which ignites these visions.
Although pricey (as with seemingly everything else in life), when comparing the cost of finishing a basement to that of just a few years ago, for those with an unfinished basement, the benefits of incorporating one into the fabric of one’s home is still enormously tempting.
For those brave enough and in the position to make it happen, when taking the leap toward doing so, there are a number of items to keep in mind.
Certainly, there are height requirements and other regulations and guidelines, which locally may vary from one community to another.
Along with all of the planning that comes with this type of project, one of the biggest items of focus tends to be egress direction that would be dictated by the local building official (remember, the more local the building code, the more it takes precedence!).
While varying in their design, bulkheads are one means of egress that are very common.
In addition to a bulkhead [or in some instances, in lieu of (again, depending on the demands of local code)], one option for egress is the ‘egress window’.
The egress window is a window that is installed in one’s home that, literally, allows egress to the exterior. Though basements tend to be the most common area that they are used in, they can be utilized in other areas, as well.
An egress window looks like a large regular window, but it opens large enough to allow the inhabitants of the space to escape in the event of a fire.
Local building officials should be consulted to double check how large the window space actually needs to be, as you are planning the project.
There is MUCH involved when embarking on the project of installing an egress window.
While it can definitely differ from project to project, here are examples of what we see usually involved, when installing an egress window:
- Window needs to be ordered at the appropriate sizes
- Area outside of window properly dug out
- Foundation needs to be cut, and the hole prepped, to receive a window
- Window installed
- Finish trim installed around exterior of window
- Hole that was dug is backfilled
- Window well installed in hole (we always custom-make these with steel, and depending on the situation, may need to incorporate a ladder into the fabrication, as well)
- Crushed stone placed in bottom of hole that was dug
- Interior finish work done around window, with the intention of making the window appear as of it had always been there
As you can see, the process is a bit involved.
When working through this procedure, it is important that a local building official is involved to make sure that what is done meets egress code.
Finished basements are definitely fantastic features in the homes of many, ensuring proper egress though is not only prudent, but an essential part of the process that should be well thought out, and embedded into the overall game plan.
About Tom Lopatosky
Tom Lopatosky has run his own RI-based painting and repair business since 1995; LOPCO Contracting – the “Personable, Particular Professionals” – specializes in exterior & interior painting and carpentry. Recently LOPCO Contracting was named ‘RI’s Finest Painting Contracting Company’ by ShopInRI Magazine. In 2013, Tom was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) and a “40 Under 40” award winner by Providence Business News. He is a member of both PCA (Painting Contractors Association) and RIBA (Rhode Island Builders Association). Tom has often had weekly ‘Home Improvement Tips’ that have aired on the radio on 630 WPRO AM and on television on WPRI 12. You can catch Tom LIVE on the radio EVERY Saturday, 2pm-3pm, on 630 WPRO AM (99.7 FM) during his weekly ProTalk Home Improvement Radio Show!