Basement bedrooms in Winnipeg: Minimum size requirements

What are the code requirements for basement bedrooms?


Here in Winnipeg, we love our developed basements.  Great space for recrooms, hobby and work shops, and additional bedrooms.  A typical 1000 sq ft., 3 bedroom bungalow, can become a lot more functional if you can add a couple of basement bedrooms.  The problem is that the building code dictates that the basement windows need to be of a certain size.  The main reason for this is to allow a second exit point, in case of fire or similar catastrophic event.  So what are the code requirements for bedroom windows in basements?

Minimum Size for basement bedrooms windows

  • The overall minimum size of the actual opening (once the window is opened or removed from the frame), must be 3.77 sq feet or 0.35 sq meters.  That would equate to 543 sq inches of unobstructed space.
  • The smallest side of the opening must be a minimum of 15″ wide.
  • If there is a window-well, it must be at least 22″ away from the window.
In some cases, homes being listed on the MLS® are incorrectly being listed as a “4 bedroom home”, with one of the ‘bedrooms’ in the basement, but having an inadequately sized window.  This is going to be an issue, especially if the buyer wishes to rent out the basement bedrooms to students, immigrants or family members.   I recently represented a buyer in a purchase of a home which was listed as a 5 BR home, with 2 of those being in the basement and having inadequate windows.  Knowing the above rules, we contacted a reputable contractor who offered the following solution:

Increasing bedroom window size

The original window presented a standard 11″ by 30″ opening, far short of all of the code requirements above.  The contractor cut open the concrete basement wall, enlarging the opening to meet or exceed code requirements, and then increased the window well.  He installed a standing drainage pipe, which will allow rainwater to drain down to the weeping tiles.  Cost per window ranges from $2,500 to $3,000, (parts and labour included), depending on the complexity of the job, and numbers of windows to be cut.
If you’re looking at homes, and basement bedrooms are an important part in your purchase decision, keep the above requirements in mind.  And if you already purchased a home, and find that the bedroom windows DO NOT meet those requirements, all is not lost.


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2011-09-12 22:28:12
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