Are you planning on finishing your basement and adding a few bedrooms? 

anchor-basement-window-marylandThis will certainly make your below-grade space a lot more usable and will increase the value of your home. However, you have to do it right, and by “right” we mean following building codes and other local regulations.

The thing is, you can’t just put a bed in a room and call it a bedroom. It will be a bedroom in your understanding, but not in the eyes of the appraiser and realtor.


What makes room a bedroom?

You might want to check with your local building code for the exact specifications, but according to most codes in Maryland, a bedroom is a room that:

  • Is used for sleeping
  • Has a minimum head clearance of 7.5 feet
  • Has a door for entrance and privacy
  • Has an emergency exit, such as an egress window
  • Has a closet (however, this is debatable)
  • Has adequate lighting, ventilation and electricity

This is what modern codes in Maryland require and what modern home buyers will be looking for. So, if you are adding a bedroom to your basement, consider including all of these elements. While there is no minimal square footage requirement, consider allocating enough space to place a bed, two night stands and a closet. One of the most important and most challenging additions you might have to make in your basement is an egress window.


Adding an egress window to your basement

An egress window is essentially an opening that will serve as an emergency exit in case of a basement fire. It will also be used as an entrance for the Maryland firefighters and a source of natural light for your bedroom. Even if you don’t care about having your new basement room classified as a bedroom in Maryland, you should still add egress windows for your own safety.

It will take some effort to follow all the codes and regulations, but the outcome is well worth it.


In Maryland, a basement egress window must have a minimum opening area of 5.7 sq. feet with minimum opening height and width 24×20. These numbers describe the size of a basement window when it’s fully open, not the perimeter of the window frame. For example, windows that slide open vertically provide an opening roughly half the size of the frame.


There are no specific requirements in Maryland regarding which wall in the basement the window should be on, but it must be between 24 and 44 inches above the floor surface. This is to ensure that it’s high enough to prevent small children from falling out, but low enough to easily access.

Moreover, if the egress window is located underneath a deck, porch or some other outdoor structure, the code requires at least 36 inches of clearance between the bottom of the deck and the top of the window well.


Your basement egress window must be easily accessible both from the outside and from the inside. This means that anyone should be able to open a window from the inside without using keys or tools. Additionally, if the basement window well is more than 44 inches deep, you will need a ladder or steps on a side of the well to make escape easy for children.

Window Type and Shape

Not all kinds of windows are suitable for egress purposes. For example, awning windows that open outwards and use a support pole in the middle don’t provide enough opening space. Casement windows often work great, but might call for a larger window well to accommodate a swinging sash. Other windows, such as double-hung and gliding ones need to be enlarged to meet the egress specifications.

As you can see, there are many things to take into account before you can call your newly finished basement space a bedroom. And even though it takes a lot of effort, it’s worth it in the end when you watch your home increase in value over the years.

For more great tips and information on finishing your basement, check out Anchor Waterproofing’s blog, or call our experts today at 410-609-1240.