Window wells, also known as Egress windows, are a great way to bring natural light into a living space, but, more importantly, they provide a place to exit the home in case there is an emergency. Regardless of why you’re adding one to your home, there are many factors and costs to consider.
Adding a window well to your home can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,500, but the price easily jumps as high as $6,500 when you also need to dig a window well. These prices differ depending on the work needed and the type of window you choose to install.
In this article, we explain when you should consider a window well, when you need a window well, and why the price range is so great.
Window Well Installation Cost
When You Need A Window Well?
A window well adds another emergency exit to your living space. They’re often added as basement windows after a family changes the space into a living area such as an:
- Entertainment room
Any room your family lives in or uses frequently should have a window large enough to escape through; lighting up the space is a secondary benefit.
While requirements for window wells differ depending on your location, all areas must follow the International Residential Code (IRC):
- At least 20 inches wide and 24 inches high, with a net opening of at least 821 square inches (5.7 sq ft)
- Window sill no more than 44 inches off the floor
- A window well that projects at least 36 inches from the house with a clearance area of 9 square feet
Local building codes may expand on window well needs as well as bars, screens, grills, covers, and more. Your contractor should have this information, but you can double check with your local building authority.
Window Well Installation Costs and Considerations
Digging a window well can cost anywhere from $4,800 to $6,500 for a single window well. This estimate covers the cost of the window installation as well as:
- Excavation costs
- Additional materials needed for the well (i.e. window well cover, gravel, ladder)
- Professional costs (i.e. a land surveyor and structural engineer)
While you can save costs by doing parts of the project yourself, the installation of a window well will eat up the largest portion of your budget. It’s important to recruit the help of professionals to protect the integrity of your home.
This project carries many risks, including improperly grading your window well (leading to flooding and leaking), disturbing or destroying existing plumbing, utility, or telecommunication lines, and damaging the foundation of your home.
How to Save Money When Installing a Window Well?
- You shouldn’t cut corners, but there are a few ways to save money on your window well installation, even when you need a window well.
- Start by getting multiple estimates from qualified professionals in your area. They should be similar, but small differences can go a long way. This at least guarantees you’re getting an honest quote, but it may lead you to the perfect deal.
- Don’t hesitate to negotiate prices on these estimates. Most companies allow for small differences in price, and it helps you flesh out the project. You can also negotiate lower prices for additional features on these windows.
- If you have a limited budget, don’t worry about getting the extra features. If they aren’t necessary for basic safety and function, you don’t need them. Get the major stuff out of the way first.
- This includes opting for a prefab window over the custom window of your dreams. Because this project centers on safety, it’s not worth it to wait and save up. Get your emergency exit installed, and then start saving for the upgrades you need.
Factors that Affect Window Well Costs
The cost to install your window well depends on:
- Labor (including permitting and depending on your location)
- Materials (including window type and the quality of glass)
- The size and number of windows to be installed
- The condition of your property
- Whether you can use prefab windows or need to go custom
- Above-grade vs below-grade installation
Labor, Permits, and Location
While you can DIY this project, most homeowners opt for professional installation. This is often the best use of your time and money, and it limits the risks involved in such a major change.
Expect to pay around $40 per hour for labor. Building permits differ depending on location, and most professionals include them in their cost estimates.
Labor and material cost differs depending on location, so make sure you get quotes from contractors local to you. They should also come out to assess the situation for the most accurate estimate.
Materials and Window Type/ Glass Quality
Installing a window well requires materials such as:
- The window itself
- Screws and tools
- Lumber and concrete
- Moisture barriers and tarps
These may seem small to start, but they add up quickly.
Casement Windows – $200 to $500
Casement windows are the most common type used in these situations. They have at least one hinge on the side and open using a hand crank. Casement windows swing outward, making them an optimal choice for smaller rooms and basements.
Horizontal or Sliding Windows – $150 to $700
Horizontal windows open to the side, and they must be at least 4 feet by 4 feet to qualify as a window well. They’re more common in larger rooms and basements, and they work well for bringing more light into the room.
Single-Hung – $100 to $400
Single hung windows involve two panes of glass and a bottom sash that moves up and down while the top stays in place. These can pass with a window opening of 20 inches by 24 inches, and they’re the most price conscious option out there.
Double-Hung – $250 to $500
The top and bottom panes of a double-hung window are mobile, allowing both to move for greater control of air circulation. They’re popular in warmer climates, but most double-hung window wells are larger (24 to 60 inches by 28 to 60 inches).
In-Swing – $350 to $700
While in-swing windows are the most expensive option, they cut the cost of your basement window well installation. These open into the room, so you don’t need to accommodate the outswing when mapping the area of your window well.
Number and Size of Windows
Your price increases with the number of windows and the size of the windows you need to be installed. While you only need one window well at the minimum opening size in the required areas, you may opt to install multiple or larger windows for better lighting and accessibility.
You should also consider the removal of any existing windows before installation. Even small basement windows rack up some cost for removal, and the average homeowner will pay $200 for this service.
Property Condition and Work Needed
If you live in an older home without a window, expect to pay as much as $700 for the labor to cut a new window. Resizing an existing window opening may only be $150 to $200.
Paying a professional to evaluate home conditions and construction is important for preserving structural integrity. The last thing you want is to add an emergency escape only to compromise your entire foundation.
Prefabricated vs Custom Windows
Pre-built windows will cost less than custom windows, usually somewhere in the range of $100 to $500 per window. These are mass-produced, and manufacturers pass on their savings to you.
Custom windows may cost anywhere from $500 to $700 per window, but they’re great for anyone with a specific vision in mind.
Above-Grade vs Below-Grade Installation
Window installation either happens above-grade or below-grade, meaning above or below ground. In general, any below-grade work you need done will cost you more.
Your window well installation cost is higher for basement windows below grade because they require more work cutting through the foundation and digging a window well.
Upgrades that increase the cost include:
- Double or triple-pane windows
- Low-e coating on windows
These, along with custom window construction, help you unlock the full potential of your window well. In some areas, especially those that deal with bitter cold temperatures, these are energy-efficient upgrades that are well worth the investment.
While installing a window well and a window well comes at a price tag, it’s well worth the money to make your living spaces and overall home a safer space. Beyond this, they’re great for natural lighting and can even increase your home value.
Make sure you work with reputable professionals who have a history in this area. Double check their references and communicate your budget and vision early in the project.
Are you considering a window well for your home? Let us know what’s driving you and what you’re worried about moving forward.