By Gene and Katie Hamilton
A direct entrance to a basement is appealing for several reasons. You'll know what we mean if you replace your furnace or hot water heater and have to manhandle the old monsters up the stairs and through the house to get rid of them. The same is true if you're replacing an old clothes washer and dryer with new ones. A sturdy new basement cellar door provides an easy opening and direct access - not to mention an emergency exit - for a basement, so it's a popular replacement project in many old homes.
A contractor will charge $880 to install a cellar door which includes the labor and material. You can buy the unit for $575 and install it yourself, saving 34 percent. Enter your ZIP Code to adjust the cost to where you live. Budget more money if repair work on the existing stairs and concrete frame around the stairway is needed.
To find the correct size, you need to measure the width of the area inside the stairway walls. Use www.bilco.com a manufacturer's site for help sizing a cellar door or take the dimensions to a lumberyard or home center where cellar door units are sold. The installation involves several steps: removing the old doors, assembling the new unit, repairing any concrete (if necessary), and drilling holes and then fastening the new unit in place.
Cost updated 2013