Read below about some useful things to know as you consider larger basement windows to enhance safety, natural light, and fresh air ventilation.We've been getting requests from homeowners to assist with enlarging their basement windows. Some are interested in larger windows because they're renovating their basement and want to make sure the windows meet standards in the building code for emergency egress. Others simply want more natural light and ventilation to make their basement space more attractive and comfortable.
This interest in window expansion is unsurprising given that basement remodels are among the better investments you can make in your home, adding approximately 70 cents per dollar spent to your home’s resale value.
Historic Preservation Considerations
If you live in one of the city's historic districts, you may be wondering about historic preservation concerns. The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) of the DC Office of Planning has issued guidelines about basement entrances and basement windows on historic properties.
The board observes that historically many of Washington’s houses were designed with exterior basement access. When that access does not exist, they add that it may be possible to accommodate a new basement entrance or to expand basement windows if the alterations retain existing architectural characteristics. The Historic Preservation Board welcomes informal consultations with homeowners, so if in doubt, you have the option to contact them for a preliminary discussion of your project. Here are some other useful points on replacing windows in historic homes.
Even if your home isn't in a historic district, you'll still need to take some things into consideration. When enlarging windows, consider that the first, second, and probably even third floors all pass load to the basement. The amount of foundation needed to support the load is reduced when a portion of the wall is removed. Hire a professional to advise you on structural issues.
The first thing to think about is the building’s stability when it comes to enlarging basement windows. Drainage is the second. A wider window may require excavation to below the height of the new window to have adequate drainage. The barrier of a deeper well is formed by a typical window well or retaining wall blocks, which carry water away from your window opening. Larger windows may require a new drainage solution.
As you consider enlarging your windows, think about upgrading the glass and your current window style when replacing it with a larger one to improve performance. Heat loss through windows leads to higher energy bills and can make your basement feel cool. Now is the time to add cutting-edge concept windows.
Remodeling your home to make it more comfortable and to add living space has proven to be a good investment. At Renaissance Development, we're highly experienced with any remodeling project that involves you home's masonry. Contact us to schedule a free onsite estimate to discuss these and other issues in more detail.
Renaissance Development, a leader in brick restoration and historic preservation, specializes in the repair and restoration of historic DC brick buildings. We love old homes and are committed to preserving their historic charm and value. If your renovation plan includes masonry or brick repair, contact us for a free site visit and project quote.