Adding an Egress Window in an Old House #1

OK, this is one of a few posts about adding an egress window in an old house – didn’t I just say that in the heading? I wanted to warn you that if this is not something you have considered, then these posts might seem pretty long and tedious. But for those who need or want one – you might find this handy.

1 outside wallWe covered digging in a previous post – but we’ll have to dig a little more before we’re done. And I might say – I’m not done, as this is a work in progress. Here is where the egress window is going to go. Go here to check out the requirements for an egress window – this is a big job and you don’t want to goof up the size and placement on these puppies.

2 egress windowFirst was finding the right kind of window. You can use a variety of window styles – as long as you meet the requirements in the link above. Oh, and it’s a good idea to check with your local codes to make sure there’s not something additional needed. Casement windows are a good choice because of the single opening allowing a smaller overall size. But after lots of research I chose an Aluplast tilt and turn window. It opens inward like a door or can be vented at the top. Shown here, I’ve added the nailing fins that snap on the frame with a little help from a rubber mallet.

3 rabbeting the frameFirst I made a frame of 1 X 10 AZEK that fits up against the interior of the window frame and nailing fin. I routed the frame sides to receive the top and bottom pieces. I like to do this to keep the frame square front to back.

4 Azek frameI used PVC glue to assemble along with some stainless steel nails to hold in place. Once that has set overnight I cut the tails off of the frame so they were flush.

5 pressure treated frameNext the window buck (frame that goes against the concrete) was made from 2X12 kiln dried pressure treated lumber. Please use kiln dried treated lumber – the stuff at the big box stores is not kiln dried and is nearly impossible to get straight. This stuff is almost like finish milled lumber. The buck is slightly larger than the AZEK frame.

6 two framesSo you have the AZEK frame and the window buck. I added the triangle pieces on the buck to keep is square while the pl adhesive sets.

7 templateI  used an old mounted map to make a template of the outside of the window buck. It’s a lot easier to handle to make the marks on the basement wall. I use a template anytime I’m not sure of the exact location – that window buck is heavy.

8 hole markingDownstairs the template is used to mark the hole location.

9 cutting startThe good thing about old houses – the cheap ones that is – is they typically have concrete block walls. I would not attempt this if my walls were poured concrete. But if you have block walls it’s a pretty easy project – sort of. First find a full block that you can chip out the mortar at the top. A hand sledge will take care of it with little effort.

10 wall hole progressOnce you have the first one out use a hand sledge to break the web of the block next to it. Once the web is gone the front and back of the block will break away easily. Do this until you have all the blocks removed that don’t need to be cut.

11 concrete pileOf course, you’ll have a pile of broken concrete blocks – but they’re a lot easier to throw out of the hole when in pieces.

12 hole preliminaryHere is the finished hole after breaking out all of the blocks.

13 concrete sawTime to get down and dirty. Please wear a respirator when you crank up the concrete saw. This one’s 14″ with a diamond blade.

14 middle of finish cutThe saw is used to cut the edges flush so that the window buck will slide into place.

15 ready for buckSince the depth of the window landed midway between a block course – I decided to take it down to the next block  and build up from there.


So that’s it – nothing pretty. It has been pretty simple up to this point – we’ll see how it goes from here.




9 thoughts on “Adding an Egress Window in an Old House #1

  1. Holy Crap! Wow, that’s actually kinda cool. I had no idea how one would actually accomplish that should it be deemed necessary. Very interesting and the photos are truly a key part of the post. Nice job on that. So what happens with the land outside? Stairs? Super-large window well? I’m sure that will be covered in the next post, but I am eager to see how this shakes out. Hope all is well with you. I’ve been slacking off and may eventually do a post…we’re almost done with ours!

    • Ha, ha…Hi Janet! Long time no see. See what I get myself into when I’m left without supervision? You should have seen the dust fly when I cut that wall – but since I did it by myself it was kinda hard to take pictures. Outside will be a large window well with steps – called a scapewell. I hope you post some new photos – I would love to see what any project looks completed – I need all the inspiration I can get.

    • Hi Cat! Thanks! There is quite a bit of light that comes in now. I still have to install the well outside, but it looks like it will add a lot of light to the woman cave. Time will tell.

  2. The fact that you’re doing this yourself makes you my hero — saying “Oh, it’s not that difficult” leads me to believe maybe you’re just (what’s a nice way to say this) NUTS! Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

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