It seems that within the past couple of years this issue has evolved into a real problem for those homeowners who have finished their basements without an search and rescue egress. NYS Dept. of Residential Code defines this as; an operable window, door or similar device that provides for a means of escape and access for rescue in the event of an emergency.

The problem is, most homeowners don't have a walk out or bilco access in their basement. Also, most people either are handy enough to finish space off in their basement or know someone who will help them out for a case of beer and some pizza (those are nice friends to have)...Especially with the new found popularity of the "man cave" or rec rooms to allow the kids to store the toys out of site from most of the house. The larger issue here is that I think if most people were asked, they would have no idea that in 2003 NYS changed the code to require that any finished area below ground requires to have one of these search & rescue openings. These can come in a variety of sizes & dimensions, ranging anywhere from $2,500 - $10,000+ dollars for the more elaborate entries. It's just one of those things that most people don't account for in finishing off their basement & if you don't get the necessary permit you really wouldn't have known any better. The main reason owners need to be aware of this issue is because in a lot of these inspections, the inspectors are deeming these as "major items" over the $1,500 mark. In NYS, the $1,500 threshold requires the seller to repair or fix the problem of the buyer can walk...

In my opinion, its one of those things that you might as well take care of up front rather than dealing with at the inspection (if you ever decide to sell your home) unless it was obviously done before 2003. Otherwise, if you don't count on doing it, take your chances and roll the dice on having to give the credit at the closing...As long as the deal stays together!....

Examples of window well egress options...