Bilco Steps Up With Ground-Breaking Basement Solution

Safety, access and natural light are important considerations for homeowners looking to maximise the potential of their basement areas while increasing the value of their properties.

ScapeWEL window well systems from roof hatch, smoke vent and access equipment supplier Bilco offer an ideal solution.

Apart from providing a secondary escape route in the event of a fire and meeting all Building Regulations, the window well vastly improves the amount of natural light in basements and cellars.

Popular in the US and now available in the UK, the ScapeWEL system is easy to install, maintenance free and its terraced-step design assists emergency escape.

Available in various sizes, the product consists of panel components that easily snap together onsite in a patented slot-and-tab design.

From a practical and regulatory perspective, the emergency egress provides a visually-appealing, sensible solution for builders, specifiers and home owners who want to maximise the full potential of below-ground areas for uses other than storage.

By increasing the options available and the possible uses for such buildings, the window well system also offers potentially significant financial benefits by adding to the property’s overall value.

Wiltshire businessman Terry Larby is one of the first customers in the UK to identify the practical and potential advantages of the ground-breaking Bilco product. He is “over the moon” with a recent installation at his five-bedroom oak-framed executive home in Burbage near Marlborough.

It has provided him with the necessary secondary fire exit and ensured his property is fully compliant with all Building Regulations. He is “surprised but delighted” with the amount of extra natural light that now pours into the basement area.

“I’m very pleased with this product,” said Terry. “It was easy to install; it’s practical, non-weather dependent and simple to use. It has improved the light in the building no end, it really has.

“The egress escape is just what we needed. It has been inspected and approved by Building Control. Until this was installed the only way to escape a fire would have been through the main part of the house. This solves that problem.”

The basement is currently used as a games and entertainment area but other ideas that have crossed the owner’s mind include using it as a children’s play room, or a wine cellar or perhaps even as a home cinema.

“It’s also perfectly suitable now for residential use as well as for recreational activities so it could be converted into a flat – it would be ideal for staff,” said Terry.

“I would recommend this product to others with similar requirements to ours and I’m sure there is a market for this with properties using below-ground areas for storage or to entertain guests.

“Apart from increasing the number of potential uses for this area of the house, it has increased the appeal of the property. As the basement area is now a fully-habitable extension it has undoubtedly increased the overall value.”

The ScapeWEL window well supplied to Terry was topped off with a polycarbonate dome cover to protect the window itself from snow, leaves and other debris.

The property at Burbage is among the first homes in the UK to benefit from the emergency egress installation. As well as increasing the amount of natural light and improving safety, the window well offers other important benefits:

• Terraced steps make it easier to escape quickly in an emergency
• Simple to install – components snap together
• Increases potential for basements to be adapted to provide additional ‘living space’
• Suitable for new construction or refurbishment • Maintenance free and UV stablised for years of trouble-free service.

“ScapeWEL is a basement window that adds extensive, natural daylight to what are often fairly dark and dreary basement rooms,” said James Fisher, Bilco UK/Europe general manager.

“We are delighted that, apart from providing the important secondary access and exit – essential to meet Building Regulations – and filling the room with natural light, the customer found it so easy to install.

“This is an excellent asset to any generously-sized basement. The right product can completely upgrade the room and increase the value of the property.

“They are popular in America and we are confident they will be welcomed in this country as a safe, light, modern accessory that will increase the possibilities available to homeowners, giving them new opportunities to make the most from their cellar and basement areas.”

• Based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Bilco UK supplies a range of roof hatches, smoke vents, floor doors and other access products in various sizes and materials.

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