Walkout Basement Explained: Pros and Cons

Walkout Basement Explained: Pros and Cons

Walkout Basement Explained: Pros and Cons

A walkout basement has windows or doors that open to the outside on one or more walls. This entrance allows for natural light and ventilation, making a walkout basement feel more like an extension of the home than a dark traditional basement, thus increasing the value of your property.

Walkout basements are often unfinished and used for storage, but they can also be finished and used as living space.

Many homeowners choose to finish their walkout basement and use it as an extra bedroom, family room, home gym, or office.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of walkout basements, as well as some tips for designing and building one.

Pros and Cons of Walkout Basement

Enhances the aesthetics of the buildingHigh construction cost
Increased home valueLeakage risk
Additional spaceIncrease in property taxes
Potential earningsSusceptible to flooding
Additional emergency exits
Improved basement accessibility

Pros and Cons of Walkout Basement

Pros of Walkout Basement

What are the benefits of having a walkout basement?

Enhances the aesthetic of the building

Basements are often dark, musty, and uncomfortable. However, windows and doors can bring a lot more light and fresh air in, to improve the atmosphere.

You might not even notice that the entire space is a basement when one side of the basement has doors and windows and the other is well-lit with artificial lightning.

This space can be revamped by adding style and substance with the right interior decor.

Increased home value

In general, a walkout basement is more desirable because it increases the amount of liveable space in your home.

You'll have opportunities to transform the walkout area into a variety of different spaces that are not possible in a traditional basement.

Additional space

With a walkout basement, you won't have to go through your home to enter it. Instead, you can enter from a lower level.

While a traditional basement provides more space, a great living space may be more to your liking.

The walkout basement alleviates the underground, dark feeling and encourages your guests and family to relax down there.

A walkout basement is useful if you need extra storage space for furniture or for your car.

That's also a good place to build a home office, as it is nice and cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Potential earnings

If you want to make some extra money, consider converting the walkout basement into a separate apartment.

A walkout apartment has the added benefit of allowing you to have a tenant without sharing a common entrance.

When it is time to sell your home, a walkout basement adds to its value.

The real estate agent may include the home's overall square footage. Additionally, they'll show how much extra "livable" room there is in the basement.

Additional emergency exits

When you have a walkout basement, you have the option of adding an additional entry and exit points to your home.

The additional egress makes the basement more habitable.

Improved basement accessibility

A walkout basement has the added benefit of being easier to access and a great place for storing bigger items.

For example, moving that big cupboard downstairs is much easier if you have a door straight to the basement!

Cons of walkout basement

Exorbitant installation cost

Adding a walkout basement to a home is extremely expensive.

If you have a basement, the first step would be to excavate a significant amount of earth, remove a portion of the foundation wall for the door, and then if you want windows, more excavation is required.

Additional drainage is needed to ensure that the excavated wall does not leak into the walkout basement.

Leakage risk

Leakages are more common in walkouts that are not at a steep angle, often suggesting that the basement was excavated at a considerable slope and retaining walls were put up on either side of the walkout.

Moisture can collect in the walkout area in these cases.

This can result in the degradation of wooden components such as basement beams and joists.

Joist drying can significantly lessen the extent of the damage.

Installing a drain near the walkout entrance can also help to solve this issue.

Increase in property taxes

A permit from your local building department is required to add a walkout basement. When you do this, your local building department property tax assessors will be notified.

The tax on your home is based on the value, so as the value increases, so will the tax.

To avoid extra taxes, many homeowners prefer to have semi-finished basements, making them just functional but not fully finished.

Make sure you consider this before you make any large investments.

Susceptible to flooding

Your home may be more susceptible to flooding if it is located in an area that receives heavy rains.

If you suspect water seepage into your basement, a basement knee wall might be a good option to add your basement.

If you are concerned about these risks, be sure to talk to your contractor about ways to mitigate them.

Walkout Basement vs Walk-Up basement vs Daylight Basement vs Traditional Basement

A walkout basement is a type of basement that has its own entrance, typically at ground level.

Walkout Basement
Walkout Basement

Walk-Up basement

The term "walk-up basement" refers to a basement that has all walls below grade and has an exterior entrance via stairs leading up to ground level.

Walk-Up Basement
Walk-Up Basement

Daylight basement

A daylight basement typically includes full-sized windows that can let in "daylight" and naturally brighten the basement space.

But it does not include an exterior door on the ground level. The entrance is typically at the side or back of the house.

Daylight Basement
Daylight Basement

Traditional basement

A traditional basement is usually only accessible from the inside of the house.

Traditional Basement
Traditional Basement

How secure is a walkout basement?

Although a walkout basement wall is not traditionally made of concrete, it is designed to withstand loads from one or more floors above.

While most people think of walk-out basements as being desirable, it's important to make considerations for security when they are planned or constructed.

A building engineer will not sign off on the plans unless the walls are designed to be structurally sound.

If the basement has windows and a door that leads directly outside, it may be easier for someone to break into your home.

Is a Walkout Basement Considered a Story?

While some people may not consider a walkout basement an "official" story, it can certainly be a valuable addition to your home.

If you're considering adding one, be sure to check with your local building codes to see if there are any special requirements for this type of construction.

Just remember that even though a walkout basement might not be regarded as a story in the conventional sense, the square footage does matter.

How is a Walkout basement Constructed?

Construction of Walkout Basement
Construction of Walkout Basement

Basements often conjure up images of dark, cramped spaces that are only good for storage, but a walkout basement can be an open and airy space that offers you a valuable living area.

In order to have a walkout basement, your home must be built on a sloping lot.

The slope of the land will determine how much slope is needed for the walkout basement.

In general, you will need at least an 8% slope (or 1 foot of elevation change for every 12 feet of horizontal distance) in order for the basement to qualify as a walkout.

The amount of elevation change needed for a walkout basement will depend on how deep the excavated area is and how high the foundation walls are being built.

In most cases, you will need at least 2 feet (0.61 m) of elevation change for a walkout basement.

Here are the steps you'll need to take to build a walkout basement in your home:

Step 1: Excavate the area where the basement will be located. This is usually done with a backhoe or other heavy equipment.

Step 2:Pour the foundation for the basement.

The foundation must be engineered specifically for a walkout basement to support the weight of the additional floors above it.

The footings for a walkout basement should be placed at a depth that is below the frost line in your area.

The average depth of the frost line is four feet, but it can range from two to six feet depending on where you live.

This means that the footings for your walkout basement should be placed at least four feet below the ground.

Step 3: Install a waterproofing membrane on the exterior walls and floor of the basement to prevent water from seeping in.

Step 4: Frame the walls and ceiling of the basement using lumber and metal studs.

Be sure to use fire-resistant materials if you're planning on finishing the basement later on.

Step 5: Hang drywall on the walls and ceiling and finish as desired (paint, texture, etc.).

Professionals with experience, like a painter or drywallers, can do this for you.

Step 6: Add any desired finishes such as flooring, trim work, lighting, etc.

These steps will transform your basement from a blank canvas into a beautiful living space that you and your family will enjoy for years.

How much does a walkout basement cost?

Your project's complexity and size will determine the answer.

Generally, you can expect to pay between $10,000 and $30,000 for a basic walkout basement.

However, if you need features such as plumbing or an extra bedroom, the cost will increase accordingly.


Walkout basements are certainly appealing, but they are not for everyone.

Many homes will be unable to use a walkout basement design because they lack a sloped terrain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a finished walkout basement included in the square footage?

There are two answers: yes and no. This is subject to your city's regulations.

You can include the square footage of your finished basement in your home's total square feet.

A finished walkout basement is considered part of the livable space in your home, so it will be included in the square footage when your home is appraised or listed for sale.

An unfinished basement will never be considered when calculating square footage.

This can be tricky, and many homeowners become confused when attempting to calculate.

Consult your state's building code to be certain.

What type of soil is necessary to build a walkout basement?

There are a few different types of soil that can be used to build a walkout basement, but the most common and recommended type is sandy loam.

This type of soil has just the right amount of sand and clay, and it drains well.

Additionally, excavating and leveling it is easy.

Can I add a sliding door to my walkout basement?

Yes, it is possible to add a sliding door to a walkout basement.

There are a few things to consider when adding a sliding door to a walkout basement, such as the size and type of door, the type of track, and the installation process.

Sliding doors are typically more expensive than regular doors, and they can be difficult to install.

If you don't have any knowledge about home improvement, it is often best to get a professional to do the job.

Do walkout basements take a lot of time to build?

The answer will depend on the size and scope of your project.

However, most walkout basements can be built in two to three months.

About V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com

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V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com

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