What is a Walkout Basement?

If more light, extra living space, and a few more digits to your home value sound good, you might want to consider a walkout basement. The walkout basement is exactly what the name implies: a basement you can walk out of. Although the designs vary, most walkout basements come with doors and windows on the ground level. Most homes with walkout basements will be set on a slope to the rear to allow direct access from the basement to the backyard. Most will also incorporate a patio or cantilevered roof to support a deck. Walkout basements have a lot of benefits. But make no mistake, they’re going to cost you. If you’re considering introducing a walkout basement into your home design, you’ll need to consider whether the benefits outweigh the initial outlay.

The Benefits of a Walkout Basement

The benefits of a walkout basement are numerous. Not all are going to be relevant to everyone, but the true strength of the walkout basement is its flexibility – basically, it can become whatever you want it to be.

  • Extra Living Space – What draws most people to the idea of a walkout basement is the extra living space it offers. As empirecommunities.com writes, a walkout basement lets you use the basement level of your house as an actual living space, as opposed to a dumping ground for old furniture and unwanted junk. Once the basics are in place, a walkout basement can be turned into any kind of space you want: a second living room, an entertaining space, a home office, or even a playroom for your kids. Essentially, it can be transformed into any kind of space that your household needs, giving you the advantage of extra square footage without expanding the property’s footprint.
  • Perfect for Home Businesses – If you’re tired of your clients having to track through your personal living space on the way to your home office, the walkout basement is the perfect solution. By offering a separate entrance, it will make drawing the line between your living space and your working space much easier. if you regularly take deliveries, having the option to have them delivered straight into the area where they’ll be stored should prove massively convenient.
  • Increased Home Value – For many homeowners, the prospect of adding value to their property is one of the main attractions of the walkout basement. Regardless of what you eventually use it for, all walkout basements serve the same basic function – increasing a house’s livable square footage. And with that, comes flexibility. You might use the basement as a play den, but prospective homeowners could use it for one of any number of different things – and that’s the attraction. By offering a flexible living space that can be adapted to suit the needs of any family, you automatically make your home more desirable. The greater the desirability, the greater the price you can ask when it comes time to sell.
  • Lots of Natural Light – Conventional basements can be dark, dim, and dingy. Walkout basements, on the other hand, tend to be light, bright, and airy. Thanks to the addition of larger windows and doors, the basement loses the ‘basement’ feel and takes on the same bright, inviting properties of other living spaces in the house. By making the most of natural light, the walkout basement can be used and enjoyed all year-round.
  • Ideal for Multigenerational Living – With the cost of property rising, kids are living longer with their patents than they ever have. Having a separate area complete with its own private entrance can help ease any tensions and allow both you and them some much-needed privacy. It also makes a great ‘granny flat’ for older parents and relatives.
  • Income Source – A walkout basement lets you monetize your home in all-new ways. Convert the space into a rental apartment, and you could soon be drawing a passive income that will go a long way to covering the mortgage payments.

The Cons

While the benefits of a walkout basement are undeniably attractive, it’s worth considering the flipside. Some of the cons of a walkout basement to consider include:

  • Increased Property Taxes – One of the benefits of a walkout basement is its capacity to increase the viable living space in your house. However, as timberframehq.com notes, from a financial perspective, this can be something of a double-edged sword. As the basement is considered living space, you might end up having to pay higher property taxes. If you plan on selling your house in the future, you’ll probably end up recouping what you lose on property taxes via the added value a walkout basement adds. But if you don’t plan on selling, the added value isn’t going to affect you financially, whereas the increased property taxes most certainly will.
  • High Initial OutlayAs hunker.com writes, the biggest drawback of the walkout basement is the increased initial outlay. The land will need to be evacuated differently from how it would be if the home was sat atop an underground basement, which can quickly add tens of thousands to construction costs. You also need to consider that a walkout basement is just as susceptible to moisture and dampness as a conventional underground basement (the addition of windows and a couple of sliding doors aren’t enough to counter containment issues) and will thus require the same level of spending on insulation and protection.

Final Thoughts

A walkout basement isn’t for everyone. For a start, not all homes are going to be suitable for one. If you’re designing a new home from scratch, it will be easier to incorporate a walkout basement into the plans. Adding one to your current property may be a tougher proposition, even if you have an existing basement to utilize. And then there’s the cost to consider. A walkout basement isn’t a small project, and as homelyville.com notes, it can easily add $30,000 to the cost of construction. Once the initial outlay has been taken care off, the increased property taxes is another pill to swallow. But while it’s a costly project, the benefits are extensive. As well as adding a considerable amount onto the value of your home, a walkout basement vastly increases your living space, giving you plenty of space to play with and customize according to your own specific needs. If your property is suited to a walkout basement, and if you feel the benefits outweigh the costs, it’s certainly worth considering.


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