A walkout basement is one that is not entirely underground. At least one full wall is above the ground. This wall is fitted with windows, just like a main floor wall. Often, it has doors providing access to a patio or the backyard of the home—hence the name: walkout.
Despite being a type of basement, walkout basements seem to differ fundamentally from “regular” basements. They seem to have more versatility in their use and definitely more sunlight, but they do still have some basic commonalities with regular basements.
In this post, I’m not just going to define a walkout basement, I’ll also provide you with the pros and cons and several creative approaches to designing your walkout basement.
Defining and Characterising Walkout Basements
A walkout basement is a basement that is not entirely underground but instead has at least one full wall above the ground. This wall is usually fitted with windows and doors just like any other wall of the home, and it often provides access to a patio or the backyard of the home.
The fact that a basement can be a walkout basement is one of the main distinguishing factors between basements and cellars.
In order for a full wall to be above ground, a home with a walkout basement often has an extreme slope to the rear of the property.
If a basement has a wall only partially above the ground, it is classified as a daylight basement. These two basement types are an upgrade over the traditional basement, and their differences bring about varying pros and cons.
A walkout basement adds living space to a home, whether it serves as a bedroom, bar and eating area, or an entertainment room. They are rarely unfinished, unlike most regular basements.
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Benefits and Drawbacks of Walkout Basements
A walkout basement adds more living space to your home. It can be transformed into pretty much any room you can imagine (picture your entire basement converted into a massive master suite, with french doors opening onto the patio!). This living space in a walkout basement would also have more natural sunlight, making it feel like any other floor of the home.
A finished walkout basement is a great selling point for a home, and it also adds square footage to your floorplan. With these points considered, walkout basements increase the value of your home.
Walkout basements are often a gateway to the outdoors, whether this is a patio or your backyard. They are a great way to have access to the outdoors from more than one floor of your house.
If you don’t want to fully finish your walk-out basement, you can turn it into a pool house instead by installing an inflatable hot tub!
Although walkout basements may aesthetically feel like they are on the main floor of the house, the reality is that they are still partially underground. Because of this, moisture and cool air are likely to infiltrate your walkout basement and make it feel cold, just like any other basement.
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Finished walkout basements are also quite expensive since the excavation is more complex than a normal basement’s would be.
Walkout basements are also not possible in all homes since it is preferable if the land slopes towards the back of the house. If this is not the case, installing a walkout basement just isn’t feasible.
Best Uses of Walk-out Basements
There are so many possibilities for the uses of walkout basements, with their access to the outdoors and large amount of space.
One such idea is a basement garage. These can save space on the main level of the house and are often larger than first-floor garages.
To take advantage of the access to the outdoors, and if your household has children, a playroom would be a wonderful use of your walkout basement. The natural sunlight, access to the backyard, and open floorplan would be great for kids.
You will probably like to keep the basement door open in this case, so that you can hear if the kids need help. This makes the swing direction of your walkout basement door an important consideration.
Other options include entertainment areas, such as a home theater, a bar, or a game room fitted with a pool table, foosball, and other activities.
A walkout basement could also easily be a simple addition to the home such as an added bedroom or a living room.