Our master bedroom in our house is located in the basement. The one window it has does not have an egress window and was like this since the 50's. Am I grandfathered in or do I have to replace the old window with a new egress window to be up to code? This will require substantial foundation work to make the opening to the correct size.

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    Are you making some change or are you just asking? If the situation is existing prior to the regulatory change, it's likely grandfathered in. If you are making some change then you may be required to upgrade to current code as a condition of that permit. If the change was made un-permitted then you may be in violation but nobody will know unless you try to get a permit for some other work and the inspector notices that.
    – jwh20
    May 29, 2019 at 19:01
  • Grandfathered or not, not having an egress from a basement bedroom is a death trap for anyone sleeping there. I'd do it just for safety reasons - the cost of the foundation work is cheaper than the cost of a lost life (or 2).
    – FreeMan
    Jun 3, 2020 at 13:30

2 Answers 2


I heard years ago from a real estate agent that if you have a "bedroom" that doesn't meet the egress requirements then you can't count it as a bedroom when you sell the house. For example, if you have 3 "good" bedrooms upstairs and one not-quite-a-legal-bedroom downstairs, then you have to list it as "3 bedrooms". Most of the time people looking at houses understand this - and can make their own decision whether to use a non-bedroom as a bedroom. Similarly, if your area requires an occupancy permit for a house then it will be based on having proper egress for bedrooms, so any rooms that don't meet the requirements just won't be officially bedrooms.

However, the master bedroom is, IMHO, a bit different. Typically it is larger, has a bathroom attached and can't really be ignored. You can sell a house with 3 bedrooms almost as easily as 4. You can't (practically speaking) sell a house without a master bedroom. So if this is truly the master bedroom then the egress requirements really do matter. But in the end, except if you are selling the house, the choice is yours.


The required egress window size is 5.7 square feet, except for first floor and basement window is 5.0 square feet. The net height shall be a minimum of 24” and net width shall be 20” wide. (See ICC R310.2.1)

The window sill shall be not more than 44” above the finished floor and provided with an appropriate window well if located in the basement. (R310.2.2 and R310.2.3)

Yes, you are “grandfathered in”, (See R310..6), unless you’re remodeling your basement and adding a sleeping room.

However, how do you sleep at night if you put a child or guest in that room? Do you at least have smoke detectors in the bedroom AND in the basement?

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    That was a good point.. The whole thing that made this a law is fire .. And a way to get out if you can not get out the door 'And firemen can save you .
    – user101687
    May 29, 2019 at 20:47
  • Just a point in Florida . Homes still have windows boarded up after Irma if the had a fire . Would be in a world of hurt..
    – user101687
    May 29, 2019 at 20:52

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