I have poured concrete foundation walls and I am adding an egress to my basement wall. I'm cutting a hole 3' width by 4' in height, about 44 inches from the floor and about 12" from the top of the foundation wall. The wall is load bearing. It is a 2 story house. The roof slope towards the foundational wall.

I was told since I have a monolithic pour, I don't require a header, but it seems strange with cutting 3x4 hole that I wouldn't. If one is required, should I use 2x8's for header supported by 2x8's as jacks?

  • So you are going to cut this hole in a foundation? How long has the foundation been there? Is there a complete house constructed on it? How do you intend to cut it? Surely this would require a header under the sill plate which bridges this opening. Jun 3, 2019 at 22:48

3 Answers 3


There are a couple of issues: 1) is the window going to be an egress window in a sleeping area? , and 2) structural concerns.

1) If the window is going to be used as an egress window, then the opening in the window must be 5.0 square feet and the width must be a minimum of 20” clear opening, the height must be a minimum 24” high and the opening must be a maximum of 44” off the floor.

If you ever put a pullout couch or bed in that basement, you’d better have a window that meets those requirements or a door that opens directly to the exterior.

If it needs to be a minimum of 20” wide, a slider will require a rough opening of about 48” wide.

2) Structurally with two floors, roof and concrete wall resting on your new header, you’ll need at least 4 - 2x6 header on 1 - 2x6 trimmer at each end for a 4’ wide window, unless you have a point load above it (large post), refrigerator, or waterbeds. If you stay with your 3’ wide opening, you could use 3 - 2x6’s.


I did one in a very similar situation but I cut the opening 4' wide x 3' tall and my opening went all the way to the bottom of the joists. The 2x10 joists that supported the main floor used to rest on the piece that I removed and the wall was load bearing as the roof sloped to that side of the house.

My structural engineer approved 2x6s for the header - I used (5)2x6s as the header for the window to maximize the vertical height available. One 2x8 on each jamb side of the window opening supported the header.

  • 1
    What supported this header from below? Jack studs inside the opening? Jun 3, 2019 at 23:34
  • How did you trim around your window afterwards? In particular, what did you do with the 2X6 header above the window?
    – popham
    Apr 13, 2020 at 8:18
  • 1
    2x6 header is 5.5". On the exterior my concrete wall was separated from stucco with a 1x10 facia/batterboard and that covered some of the header height. The remaining height was covered with facia to picture frame the window. Apr 13, 2020 at 15:03

You do need a header. Its size will be predicated on the width of your house, though, so you haven't provided sufficient information to answer your question. If you live in a municipality operating under the IRC (International Residential Code), which you probably do, then check out the IRC's Table R602.7(1) over at https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IRC2015/chapter-6-wall-construction.

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