Why You Might Want a Walkout Basement

Evelyn Long

Nov 27, 2020

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When given a choice, many homeowners would prefer a home with a walkout basement. This regional design element is more common in rural areas and wherever the soil lends itself well to supporting basement foundations. What is a walkout basement, and how does it differ from a standard lot basement?

What Is a Walkout Basement?

A walkout basement is exactly what it sounds like — a basement with a door that leads to outdoor space like a backyard, patio or garden. Meanwhile, a standard lot basement is a below-ground lower level with no windows or doors. This is what most people picture when they think of a basement. Generally, walkouts work best on sites that slope in the rear. However, some homes with a slope on the side may allow for this feature.

In most cases, homes with a walkout basement will have the main floor at street-level. In the rear, this same level is elevated, often with a deck or porch. Below lies the walkout basement. 

What Are the Benefits?

There are a number of reasons why many homebuyers prefer walkout basements over their doorless counterparts. 

Natural Lighting 

Sometimes, homebuyers and realtors refer to walkout basements as daylight basements — and for good reason. Unlike a lot of basements, a walkout has one or more walls with windows and a door that brings in sunlight.

This setup makes the basement feel like another room in your home. Of course, this added natural light is a selling point for many homebuyers and owners who are looking to brighten up their interior.

Increased Property Value

In some resale markets, appraisers will include walkout basements when calculating the price per square foot. Naturally, this feature will add more value to your home, especially if the basement is finished. 

If you don’t already have a walkout and are looking to add one, doing so may result in a significant return on investment (ROI). In 2017, a basement remodel cost about $71,000 and had a value of nearly $50,000, raking in roughly a 70% ROI.

Minimizing Your Footprint 

If you advocate for preserving the environment, living sustainably and minimizing your impact on the earth, a walkout basement may be right up your alley. 

By incorporating this addition into your design plan or purchasing a home with a walkout, you minimize the foundation’s square footage. This setup will save you money on labor and materials. It will also leave more room for wildlife and plants to thrive in their natural habitats. 

New Possibilities 

Another huge advantage of having a walkout basement is its versatility. Basically, you can transform the space into whatever your heart desires, whether that be an office, an art studio or a guest bedroom. 

Since the walkout also has its own entrance, you might even consider renting out the pace on Airbnb. If you don’t plan to sell your home right away, renting it out might help you recoup some of the construction costs and result in a more significant ROI. 

Other Things to Consider for a Walkout Basement

Perhaps you’re beginning to consider purchasing a home with a finished walkout basement or getting ready to call the nearest contractor to build one. After all, the advantages make the decision seem like a no-brainer. However, there are a few more factors to consider before making a final decision. 

Aside from having an affinity for natural light and the idea of renting the place out, you might not have much going for you in terms of adding a walkout basement. For instance, if the soil isn’t viable and your property doesn’t slope, adding a walkout will be practically impossible. Moreover, even if your yard does slope, the remodel may cost too much initially, especially if it’s a small, gradual slope. 

You must also think about the fact that adding a walkout may raise your property taxes. This problem arises when the appraiser considers the walkout living space in the total square footage. Thus, it can be both a blessing and a curse. 

Be sure to take your time to examine the remodel from every angle before coming to a final decision. 

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