I have had many requests from sellers to remove the term “non-conforming” from the description of their bedrooms, usually located in a below grade location. My response… When would you like to tell them? Would you like the Appraiser to tell them, that would be after they have paid for that service, $750-1500.00? Or after the $500.00 home inspection? Buyer beware and never? When would you like to tell them?

There are a fair number of houses built in a certain architectural period that failed to have egress on any level. Many below grade “basement” bedrooms fail due to sill height and window opening area. Don’t misunderstand me… many kids were raised in homes without proper egress and grew up just fine. But we are talking about selling a property and fully disclosing.


There are many codes and rules that define suitability. I do not profess to know them all, this certainly is not all inclusive, but basically, what we see broadly is the following:

            1. Two means of egress, door that does not go into another closed living space, and a window that is no more than 44 inches off the floor and an open-able area of no less than 5.7 sf. with window well and ladder.

            2. Closet with door.

            3. Source of heat.

            4. Light.

            5. Receptacles no lower than 14 inches off the floor and one on each wall.

Egress is by far the most common deficiency. And most expensive to repair.

Why have a window? To get out. Why the size minimum? To get out. Why the height maximum? To get out.

Does it make a home less desirable? That completely depends upon the Buyers use for those rooms and their comfort level.

Does it detract from value? That depends on use and on the type of appraisal for certain underwriters, such as FHA or VA.


Appropriately disclose- allow the Buyer to educate himself and make the decision for his family.

Size- Put in larger window, put in window well of appropriate size and place an aluminum ladder.

Height- Put in a permanent structure below the window decreasing the height to the sill.


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