I get the question all the time, “Do I have to have egress windows in my basement if I am getting an FHA loan?” The answer is not a simple Yes or No, but it is also not as complex as some make it out to be. Basically, it depends on how much you want the basement to contribute to the value of the home.
If you want the appraiser to count the basement area as livable space, you will need to have at least two ingress/egress points. This can be two sets of stairs, a stairway to the main level as well as a walkout door, or a stairway and at least one egress window.
If you want a room to be counted as a bedroom it must have an egress window. What is an egress window you ask? Here are the requirements from HUD:
- “The windowsill may not be higher than 44 inches from the floor.
- The windowsill must have a net clear opening (width x height) of at least 24 inches by 36 inches.
- The window should be at ground level; however, compensating factors may allow less.
In all cases, use reasonable care and judgment. If these standards are not substantially met, the basement area cannot be counted as habitable space.”
There you go. If you do not have two ingress/egress points, the FHA appraiser may not count the basement as habitable space (thus there is likely not much value there). Putting an egress window in is usually not that expensive. The cost to do so is likely less than the value you will lose by not having one.