Most people expect to have their basement finished into a living space. That time may be when the home is built, or later when the homeowner can afford it. When the basement is turned into living space, it is required by code that there be adequate egress for the occupants.
Egress simply means that the occupants can safely escape from the basement should there be an emergency such as a fire. No longer is it adequate for occupants to escape using the stairway to the upstairs.
One way to meet the building codes for basement egress is to install an egress window. Along with that window, an egress window well is also needed. This section of BasementAnswers.com can give you a basic understanding of what basement egress window wells are and how they work.