On the Fence About Adding a Walkout Basement?

If the building site on your property is on a slope, you have added design options for your timber frame home. Leveling that site can be expensive and time consuming, as well as a lot of work, so you may want to consider adding a walkout basement.

There are a number of benefits to using the natural slope of your property in designing your home. Some of the benefits of a walkout basement are added value, increased useful living space and additional natural light.

Adding a Walkout Basement Porch Lighting

What Is A Walkout Basement?

A walkout basement, or daylight basement, is a basement that incorporates a wall with doors and windows on the ground level. Typically, a building site that has a slope to the rear of the property has a walkout basement that accesses the back yard. It may have a patio or even a cantilevered roof that supports a deck from the upper floor of the house.

A slope on the side of the building site is useful for integrating a garage under part of the house or including a separate entrance for an in-home business or an in-law suite.

Advantages Of Adding A Walkout Basement

A walkout basement has lots of advantages going for it, so don’t despair if you have a less-than-level building site.

One obvious benefit is the additional natural light available to the lower level of the house. This sunny feature makes that basement seem less like a basement and more like the main part of the house.

With no stairs to deal with, accessing the furnace, hot water heater and other utilities is simpler. Moving heavy and large furniture between floors is easier, and you have an additional entrance to the house.

That additional entrance is especially useful if you plan to run a home business. Clients aren’t ushered through your private living space, and deliveries are made where they will be stored or used. If your plans include living space for adult children or in-laws, a separate entrance ensures that everyone has privacy and autonomy.

Another benefit is the size of your home’s footprint. By incorporating a walkout basement or garage in your design plan, you are minimizing the square footage of your foundation. This saves on the cost and materials of building the foundation. It also means that you’ll have less roof to build. Again, you’ll save construction and material costs by having fewer square feet of roofing.

Walkout Basement Design Challenges

You do have a few additional challenges to consider when designing a home with a walkout basement or garage.

Even though the floor is at soil grade, it must have a proper footing. The footing on the walkout side of the basement will be below the local average frost line depth. The foundation wall on that side is built from the concrete footing to the finished grade of the adjacent soil. The slope of the finished soil grade must angle downhill from the house so water moves away from the foundation.

Additional Value And Taxes

Financially, a walkout basement can be a two-edged sword. It is often considered as living space in the total square footage of a house. Therefore, it’s possible that you will incur higher property taxes.

On the plus side, since it’s now considered increased living space, those extra rooms make your house’s value go up in the real estate market. If you are building your home with the thought of resale value, the additional living space will be considered in the realtor’s listing as a main part of the house and not just a finished basement.

If you’ve been blessed or cursed with a sloping building site, it’s time to rethink your timber frame home design. Talk to your designer or timber frame home construction company about the options you have for including a walkout basement or garage in your plans. That slope may turn out to be one of the nicest features of your lot.

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9 thoughts on “On the Fence About Adding a Walkout Basement?”

  1. Interesting way of phrasing that, a finished basement adds value but a walk-out entrance does not. I just got off the phone with my appraiser who told me they don’t give anything for a walkout entrance, too bad since I spend 20k on it………

  2. Matthew Stevens

    I am surprised you did not get a bump for having a walkout basement as opposed to just a finished basement. I don’t see the text walk-out entrance in the article but having a door in the basement does add to the house. Bummer your appraiser cannot/did not increase it any.

  3. When we look at house plans how much square footage should we plan for a walkout basement. It will show a picture but no sq ft is listed on the specks. What if we decide to leave it unfinished for a while? Will that save us money?

  4. It will save you a little money at the off set to not finish the basement. The problem is that you will have to restart a construction project once you want to finish the basement. Most people after having done that would have chosen to go ahead and get the basement finished when they build the house the first time.

  5. Waiting at least a year to finish basement after a new build has advantages because by then the house would’ve been settled.

  6. It may not increase value to those who dont want a walk out basement but it certainly would add value to the population who understands and would like to have the added benefit of a walkout basement

  7. We built our walkout 2 years ago. The plus for us is that in the south basements are rare and with a half walkout leaving the front portion as a reinforced crawl space (unfinished) provides safety in tornado season. As for value I would reason it depends on location. As for the home appraisal, find another appraiser. Amazing how different it can be from one to another.

  8. I disagree. There are a lot of builder price advantages. Cost Increase of supplies can have a negative impact later down the road when planning on a finish out and increase in cost.
    Big substantial savings to finish out during a new build.

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