Form of Egress

What Is a Form of Egress and Why Is It Important?

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What Is a Form of Egress?

In building code, a form of egress is a way to exit a property. Having the appropriate number of egress points can help save lives in a fire or other emergency. It is important that all property investors are familiar with their local and statewide building codes.

Types of Egress

A form of egress can be either a window or a door. Windows must meet certain size requirements to be considered compliant to code as a point of egress. The exact size requirement may vary according to your state or local code, but if a firefighter in full uniform can fit through the window, odds are, it is large enough.

How Many Forms of Egress?

Every single apartment needs at least two compliant forms of egress. This includes basement apartments.

Example: Michael has a walk-out basement. He wants to add a bedroom to the basement. When he submits an application for a permit for the work, the building department denies the request unless Michael submits additional plans showing how he will provide an additional point of egress from the bedroom.

Finishing a Basement

The issue of egress commonly comes up when someone tries to finish a basement. As a property investor, you may be able to add valuable space to your investment by finishing the basement.

Adding a Bedroom:

Whether you are trying to add an entire basement apartment or just add a bedroom to a finished basement in an investment property, you must meet certain fire safety codes. Any bedroom must have two forms of exit to the exterior of the property. This is so that if one exit is blocked by a fire or other hazard, the individual still has another way to get out of the property. 

Things to Consider When Adding a Basement Bedroom:

  • Moisture/Water Issues- Many basements have issues with moisture or flooding. In order to finish the basement, you may first have to add a french drain or a sump pump in order to get rid of these moisture problems.


  • Permits- Due to the safety issues of two forms of exit, you will definitely have to get permits in order to add a bedroom in a basement. You will have to deal with town inspectors who may also want to examine the rest of your property to make sure it is all up to code.


  • Cost- Adding a basement apartment, or finishing a basement with a bedroom, is expensive. You have to make sure the value it will add as a rental or the value it will add to your property flip will be worth the expense. You may see an immediate return on a property flip, but if you are using it as a rental, you may have to hold onto the property for years for the cost to make sense.


  • Increased Taxes- Finishing a basement into livable space will increase the value of your property, but it will also increase the taxes on your property. This increase will cut into the rent you will get from a basement apartment or may make it harder to find a buyer for a property flip.