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I’m trying to solve two problems with a 1000 sq ft brick each style house with a walk out basement. The back basement wall is concrete and has a sliding door on the walkout. In order to add a couple basement bedrooms along the back wall I need to add in a couple egress windows, cutting into the basement walls as the sliding door doesn’t count as an approved egress per county plan reviewer.

The back basement wall supports the brick ledge and has settled a couple inches over the years causing the upstairs floor to bow some to the backside of the house.

I’d like to remove most of the back basement concrete wall and add wood framing there so that I can solve both the egress window problem as well as level the upstairs floor by jacking the upstairs back up to level prior to building the new wall in place.

I wanted to get this forums thoughts on this path forward or alternatives. Thanks. enter image description here

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  • Is the problem that the sliding door is the wrong kind of door to be used as a means of egress, or that the sliding door is egressing from the wrong room? Also, can we assume that a recent IRC edition applies, or is some other code (LSC/BCSC, NBCC) applicable instead? Jul 29 at 0:39
  • Per the plan reviewer they won’t consider a sliding door as egress (what else do you use it for) and as a result we need to install a window. We’d like to have two bedrooms along the back foundation wall and replace the entire wall with wood framing so that adding appropriate egress windows can easily be achieved. Thx for the reply.
    – NRd
    Jul 29 at 14:06
  • I take it the sliding door exits from a room other than one of the bedrooms in question then? Jul 30 at 1:02
  • I’ve uploaded a picture to help see what exists today. Thank you.
    – NRd
    Jul 30 at 16:14
  • Where are you on this planet, and do you know what building/residential code applies to your jurisdiction? Jul 30 at 22:45
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Most Building Officials consider sliding doors as doors that take “special knowledge” on how to operate. (Latches and locks and pulling a door in an emergency appears to be too confusing. See ICC R310.1.4)

In order to replace the concrete wall, you have several issues: 1) structural replacement, 2) disturbing existing soil conditions, 3) point loads from new end posts at windows,

  1. Providing a structural wood wall where a structural concrete wall was installed will take a few calculations, which will require a structural engineer or architect to become involved. Also involved will be shear forces due to seismic activity or high wind, if any. (The house will want to “rotate” under those loads and that load will need to be transferred to the side walls or down to the existing footing.)

  2. Every building settles during construction. Partly due to adding the weight of the building materials and partly due to disturbing the soil and it re-compacts over time. Leaving the existing wall will eliminate this effect.

  3. Installing new header and end post locations will cause the load to a new location along the wall. Where this new load transfers to the footing will need to be calculated, sized and increased… no doubt. That could be expensive.

The Code requires “Emergency Escape and Rescue Openings” in every sleeping room. (See ICC R310.1) However, it does not require a window. You could install a “swing type” door.

If the two sleeping rooms are side by side and where the existing slider is located, you could install the doors in the existing opening and then fix the sloping ceiling/ floor. If that does not quite work, you could install a one-hour fire rated corridor from each bedroom to the new swinging doors. (However, you’ll still need another bedroom door to the basement area AND written approval by the Building Official.)

Obviously, any structural change will take a Building Permit. However, if you just add new doors, then it’s not structural. (I’d let the Building Officials know it’s “maintenance”, which does not require a Permit.)

Edit: Remember, those egress windows work both ways. They’re for the occupants to escape, but also there for fire fighters to look in and see if anyone needs help. If you talk the Building Officials into the one hour corridor, you’ll also want a window too… just to see the sun and visual connection to the exterior.

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