What Is a Walkout Basement?

Exterior of walkout basement of Toronto homeThinking about renovating your basement?  Does your home sit on a sloped lot?  Maybe you should consider creating a walkout basement for your home.

Most basements are not put to use.  Either they weren’t created for living use (low ceiling height, unfinished floors, etc), and other times the conditions down there don’t lend themselves to human habitation (leaky walls, mold, lots of spiders, etc)

Basements, as the name suggests, are areas beneath the main structure that you can walk in and out of without using stairs. Ideally, they have windows and allow access on level ground. In this case, some people also call them daylight basements. If you are fortunate enough to have one (and there is sufficient head height) you can legally use it as living space and benefit from these other advantages:

  • Added value to your home at far less than the cost of a room upstairs
  • A more attractive proposition should you decide to sell some day

A walkout basement is usually only achievable when the property has sufficient slope to allow for it. Unless constructed at the same time as the house, part of it may end up below ground with concomitant damp problems. Ideally there should be sufficient slope on the rear side of the home to accommodate it. This obviates the risk of the approach-side of the house appearing architecturally awkward.


While it’s ideal to create a walkout basement when originally constructing the home, often times it didn’t fit the budget, or just wasn’t in the plans with the original construction.  When creating a walkout basement on an existing home, you’ll want to make sure:

  •  Waterproofing protection is incorporated during the construction process
  •   Foundation support are maintained to accoodate the new design
  •   The new design is in harmony with your existing home

While creating a walkout basement can be expensive, the value from the added living space will add value to your home that wasn’t there before.  In Toronto, there is a lack of available property, so homeowners are looking to make the most of the property they already have.  A walkout basement is a perfect fit to add an entire floor of living space to your home.

Source: via Grace on Pinterest


While this sort of renovation can be costly, it is often possible to stagger these costs on a site that slopes away from the access point. In this case, it may be feasible to leave the raw walkout basement structure unfinished, and complete fitting it out when funds become available. In this event it is vital to ensure two things.

  • There must be legal head height after allowing for ceiling space.  This is accomplished by lowering your basement.
  • The walkout basement must have waterproofing for its design life.

Source: via Ely on Pinterest


This is because it is often impossible to retrofit access to the inner wall, and to repair leakage afterwards. Builders seldom understand these things, which is why you should consult an expert.  If you have questions about the process of creating a walkout basement, or how to lower your existing basement, feel free to contact us here.

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NuSite Group is a Toronto based basement waterproofing and foundation repair company that specializes in Basement Waterproofing, Basement Lowering, and Foundation Repairs. Call us today at 416-622-7000 or 905-731-1228 for a free in-home estimate and inspection.

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