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utahprout 01-26-2013 06:47 PM

deck that covers basement egress windows
i'm looking at building a huge deck that would cover up the basement egress windows, where would i find the regulations that restrict or define what i'm allowed to do

mudmixer 01-26-2013 07:35 PM

Check with the local building official since items like egress can vary by community. Not all communities will accept the code minimums and can set their own if they are better than the code minimums.

Making sure you are still legal will pay dividends when you go to sell since the advertised living space will remain and buyers do not have a reason to knock down the price when the buyer's inspector catches any problems.


kok328 01-27-2013 07:58 AM

I'm thinking you could work a "trap door" into the floor of the deck that will allow the egress window to still be functional?
Definitely check with the "locals" as they may want a permit pulled for the deck construction.

mudmixer 01-27-2013 10:57 AM

Trap doors are rarely acceptable to maintain the basement space as a livable space and qualify for such in getting an appraisal for increasing selling value. A fireman might gain access through a trap door (if it large enough) to fight a fire, but if something (chair, table, etc.) is sitting on the trap door, it makes it unusable as an exit for occupants to get out in time.

That why there are local requirements that have to be met for specific situations and life safety. - Check first or provide a different acceptable exit.


kok328 01-27-2013 11:37 AM

Good point mudmixer; an oversight on my part. Sorry.

nealtw 01-27-2013 09:52 PM

Is this deck going to be off the ground, if so how high? We install window wells when the window is below grade and they get covered with a metal grill that is not bolted down. Local code would be key.

AndyGump 01-28-2013 01:07 PM

I knew I could find a reference to this:

This is from the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC):

R310.5 Emergency escape windows under decks and porches. Emergency escape windows are allowed to be installed under decks and porches provided the location of the deck allows the emergency escape window to be fully opened and provides a path not less than 36 inches (914 mm) in height to a yard or court.

I don't know if you are under this code but it is to show that this is allowed in some circumstances.


BridgeMan 01-28-2013 06:21 PM

Interesting that the IRC doesn't specifically prohibit a trap door in the deck, as long as there will be a 36" opening.

My 2003 IRC (too tight to buy an update every few years) doesn't have a Section R310.5, but it does state in R310.4 that "bars, grills, covers, screens or similar devices are permitted to be placed over emergency escape and rescue openings, bulkhead enclosures or window wells that serve such openings, provided the minimum net clear opening size complies with Sections R310.1.1 to R310.1.3, and such devices shall be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool, or force greater than which is required for normal operation of the escape and rescue opening."

As others have said, it's up to the local AHJ to make a final determination. Without their blessing, things won't fly. Nor will an upward-opening deck trap door with a 300-lb. picnic table parked on top of it.

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