Precast concrete systems provide an easy path for basement ingress and egress.
“We build many homes that include basement bedrooms, which, according to new township rules and codes, must be built with an alternate escape route,” says Fisher. To get the job done, builders like E.G. Stolzfus have just two choices: Use a precast concrete entry system or build an escape well. For the latter, the builder would have to place a 3- to 4-footwide gress window made of plastic or fiberglass n the basement.
“We don’t use many of the windows,” says Fisher. “They cost a few hundred dollars less, but the labor and time they require to install is much higher than the precast product.”
That’s because by the time someone lays the block, builds the form and pours the concrete, it can easily turn into a two-day job. The precast concrete entryways, on the other hand, take about two hours to install.
Fisher says most builders in his area have caught on to the efficiency of precast concrete and opt out of the traditional methods because of the time and labor involved. “I don’t know any company around here that does outside stairways in anything other than precast,” he adds.
That’s good news for companies like Bilco of West Haven, Conn., which specializes in the custom design and manufacture of specialty access solutions, including precast concrete basement entryways. According to Bilco, direct basement access allows homeowners to get the full use of their homes. The product also satisfies IRC 2000 building code requirements for emergency egress.
Take the sloped wall basement door, for example, which can be readily installed on sloped masonry sidewalls of brick, stone, block and poured concrete and comes complete with instructions and hardware for proper installation. The sloped door is available in a range of sizes to fit most areaways, and optional foundation plates and extension panels can accommodate virtually any areaway.
New homebuilder JS Construction Inc. of East Berlin, Pa., knows the value of precast concrete basement entryways and is currently using them on every home it builds that includes a basement. That equals about half of the company’s annual home production.
Jeff Stern, company president, says he likes the convenience and time savings they afford his firm. “It’s once and done,” says Stern. “The installers set them in the opening left in the wall, and that portion of the job is completed — simple as that.”
Stern also says the finished product is always neat and clean, unlike poured steps. “You can never get the steps to look as nice as precast,” he explains. “It’s a much cleaner job overall.”
Home buyers love that neatness, says Stern, and the access they gain to their basements from the outside of their homes. He adds, “We’ve never had a complaint about them.”