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Daylight Vs Walkout Basement

A daylight basement has full size windows which let light into the basement during the day. Hence the name daylight basement. The majority of a daylight basement is typically underground so windows are placed at the top of the walls or inside window wells. Daylight basements can have an exterior door, but they lead to a staircase which takes you to ground level. A walkout basement has a ground level door which leads to the outside. There’s no need for an exterior staircase because at least one section of a walkout basement is at or above grade level. This means they can also have full size windows just like the rest of the home.

Daylight basements are a great option if your home is built on flat ground. They allow natural light into a basement that’s fully below ground. Walkout basements are fantastic if you have the land for them. Most are built on ground that’s highly sloped which allows a section of basement to be exposed.

Just about any basement can be turned into a daylight basement. All you need are some large window wells and the right windows. However, building a walkout basement is much harder. You need the right property with enough slope to accomplish the design. Not all basements can be turned into a walkout. For this reason, there are a lot more daylight vs walkout basements.

You probably know what a basement is, but did you know there are different types. In this article we’ll go over daylight vs walkout basements.

What Is A Daylight Basement

A daylight basement has at least one full-sized window. This window can either be above ground on inside a window well. Some basements are only underground a few feet. This allows enough space for a full size window but not enough room for a ground level door.

If a basement is too deep underground to fit a full size window, wells can be installed outside the walls. A window well holds back dirt which exposes the basement wall. This provides enough room for a full size window. In some cases, you can install an egress window and a ladder leading to grade. This is a requirement in some areas if you want a basement bedroom.

Daylight basements can have an exterior door, but it leads to a ladder or staircase. When you open the exterior door of a daylight basement you’ll typically be underground.

If a home is built on a flat lot, there isn’t an option for a walkout. But with window wells you can still get some natural light into the basement.

The typical height of a new basement is 8 – 10 feet concrete walls with about a foot above grade. This leaves 7 – 9 feet of wall underground. Most basements are built with slim rectangular windows in that small 1 foot of space above grade. But they don’t let in much light. By using window wells you can install full size windows with an egress. This provides lots of natural light and an emergency exit.

walkout basement that leads to an in ground pool

What Is A Walkout Basement

A walkout basement has at least on section of exterior wall that is at or above grade. This allows for an exterior door that leads to the outside without having to walk up stairs or a ladder. Hence the name, walkout.

A walkout basement isn’t possible on just any property. You need a sloped yard that exposes some of the basement wall all the way to it’s bottom. Because of the slope, the basement floor will be at or above ground level. This allows you to walk out the basement and onto the ground without stairs.

Most lots that are flat or slightly sloped can’t have a walkout basement without some serious excavation and retaining walls. You need a property with a major slope that exposes at least enough foundation wall to fit a door.

Most walkout basements have large sections of basement exposed on either the left, right or rear of the home. It’s very rare for a walkout to face the front of the home but it does happen. In these cases, many homeowners use the basement walkout door as their front door.

Because large sections of basement wall are exposed with a walkout basement, you can also install large full size windows. In some cases, these windows can extend from floor to ceiling. And they can be either casement or double hung.

Walkout basements add a lot of value to a home. Because some of the basement is above ground, it’s easier to consider the area living space. And living space is more expensive per square foot than basement space.

What’s The Difference Between A Daylight Vs Walkout Basement?

The main difference between a walkout basement and a daylight basement is the door. A walkout basement has a door that’s at or above grade level and usually full size windows. A daylight basement has full size windows, but not a ground level door.

If a daylight basement has an exterior door, it will lead to a ladder or staircase that extends to ground level.

In order for most daylight basement to have full size windows, they usually need window wells. Some walkout basement also use window wells, but not in the areas that are at ground level. This is another advantage walkouts have over daylight basements.

Both a walkout and daylight basement can have a bedroom. But you usually need to have an egress window as an emergency exit. This is much easier to do with a walkout because you don’t need window wells and a ladder. However, that’s assuming the bedroom is on the same side of the basement as the walkout. If the bedroom is on a basement wall that’s underground, you’ll need a well.

Both walkout and daylight basements can have a kitchen, bathroom laundry, gym, office, living space, or any other type of room. The only restriction for a basement room I know of is the egress window requirement for a bedroom.

Because daylight basements are limited by the window well, they don’t get as much light as a full walkout. The well blocks direct sunlight at most angles. However a walkout can usually get full sun for more hours throughout the day.

Daylight Vs Walkout Basement Cost

In terms of finishing the basement, it doesn’t matter much if you have a walkout or a daylight basement. Both basement designs can have the same rooms and finishes. However you have slightly more options with the walkout because part of the basement is at or above ground level.

The average cost to finish a basement is around $50 – $100 per square foot. This includes a full finish with flooring, drywall, plumbing, HVAC, electric, etc. You can have the same level of comfort in a basement as you do the rest of the home.

However there’s usually a difference in price when it comes to exterior finishes. Walkout basements have a portion of the basement wall exposed to the elements. The entire area where the door is located is usually finished like the rest of the home. Since this area is an entryway it usually includes lighting and a much nicer door than the typical basement door.

Many walkout basements plaster the wall or install masonry on the exposed areas.

Walkout basements typically add value to a home because they’re easier to consider living space. Many home buyers don’t consider a finished basement as true living space because it’s underground. Even with a daylight design, a basement can still feel dark and uncomfortable. But walkouts are partially above ground so they feel like any other floor in the house.

Finishing the exposed walls of a walkout basement with masonry or plaster can easily add $20 – $50+ per square foot of finished wall. For a 20′ x 9′ wall that’s an additional $3,600 – $9,000+. Then there’s the door and lighting to consider. Overall, a walkout basement is usually around 10 – 20% more than a daylight basement.

walkout basement under a covered patio with spa

Which Is Better A Daylight Vs Walkout Basement?

In almost all cases a walkout basement is better than a daylight basement. You get a section of wall that’s at or above ground level with an entry door. You also get full size windows that can be either casement or double hung. And in some cases the windows can extend from floor to ceiling. This area of the basement feels just like any other floor of the home. That’s not something you can do with a daylight basement.

A daylight basement has full size windows which let in natural light. However, they’re usually inside window wells. The light is much better than a typical basement, but you don’t usually get the same amount of full sun as you do with a walkout. The wells usually block direct sun at most times of day.

With a walkout basement the view from the windows and doors is full. However, with a daylight basement you’re usually looking at the insider of a window well.

Daylight basements can have an exterior door, but they lead to a staircase or ladder. A walkout has a door that leads to ground level.

Drainage is another advantage to having a walkout. Because the ground is sloped it naturally diverts water away from the basement. With a daylight basement you need drains at the bottom of each window well. If they get blocked water and snow can build up against the windows and possibly flood the basement.

In terms of value, it’s generally better to have a walkout. Many people consider a walkout basement to be true living space and not just a finished basement with windows.

What is Considered A Daylight Basement?

A daylight basement is just like any other basement, except that it has full size windows instead of those small rectangular basement windows. In order to install a full size window in a basement, the basement has to be partially above ground or use window wells.

Most daylight basement use window wells to hold dirt back which exposes some of the exterior basement wall. This area can then have a window. If the window is egress and there’s a ladder or stairs leading to ground level, in some areas you can have a basement bedroom.

What’s The Difference Between A Basement And A Daylight Basement?

The only difference between a typical basement and a daylight basement are the windows. A daylight basement has full size windows which let in more natural light. hence the name “Daylight Basement”. Most basements have very small rectangular windows at the top of the walls or no windows at all.

Because daylight basement have full size windows, they can sometimes meet egress. In most areas, if you have an egress window, you can have a legal bedroom in a basement.

Because of the larger windows, daylight basements are brighter and get heat from the sun. The windows can also be opened to let in more fresh air and release that stale basement air and smell. This helps make a daylight basement feel less like a basement and more like normal living space.

Daylight basements are an upgrade from the typical basement. They cost more to build but usually increase a home’s resale value.especially when the basement is also finished.

Are Daylight Basements Expensive?

A daylight basement is an upgrade from a standard basement because it has full size windows. In just about every way, a daylight basement is the same as a standard basement. The additional cost of a daylight basement vs a standard basement are the windows. Depending on the type and size window you install and how many of them there are, the upgrade can get expensive.

For example, the typical 400 series Anderson double hung window we install averages around $600 per window. Then you have installation costs, weather proofing, excavation, the window well, drainage, etc. In total, the average daylight basement window costs between $3,000 – $5,000 each.

If you finish the basement, you’ll also have to trim around each window. This adds even more to the cost.

Doe A Walkout Basement Add Value?

A walkout basement can add value to a home if the basement is finished. The areas around a walkout feel more like true living space than a finished basement because you get a full door and windows. A walkout basement is at or above ground level so it has the same view and feel as any other floor in the house. You also get the benefit of egress windows which in many locations means you can have a legal basement bedroom.

The combination of a true entry door, full size windows with a full view means more value. Generally, when a walkout basement is also finished, the price per square foot is on par with the rest of the home.

However, keep in mind this is only for areas around the walkout. Most walkout basements are only ground level on one side because of how the ground slopes. In areas that are fully below ground, you don’t get the benefits of the walkout.

Gallery

Here’s a small gallery filled with some of my favorite walkout and daylight basements. I’ll be updating as I get more pics so check back.

Front view of a home with a walkout basement. The home has a large front to back slope towards the back.

Front view of a home with a walkout basement. The home has a large front to back slope towards the back.

walkout basement rear veiw with deck and large staircase sloped yard front to back

Here’s a rear view of the home showing the slope and walkout basement. As you can see, a walkout gives you a full entry door and windows.

Modern home with a rare walkout basement in the front of the house.

Modern home with a rare walkout basement in the front of the house.

Beautiful custom home with a walkout basement in the side and rear of the house.

Beautiful custom home with a walkout basement in the side and rear of the house.

custom white and black modern farmhouse with walkout basement rear view

Rare view of the same house showing the walkout basement door and windows. Daylight vs walkout basement? I prefer the walkout because you get the entry door, full size windows and great view. But you have to deal with a highly sloped yard to have one.

Summary: Daylight Vs Walkout Basement

A daylight basement has full size windows which let light into the basement during the day. Hence the name daylight basement. The majority of a daylight basement is typically underground so windows are placed at the top of the walls or inside window wells. Daylight basements can have an exterior door, but they lead to a staircase which takes you to ground level. A walkout basement has a ground level door which leads to the outside. There’s no need for an exterior staircase because at least one section of a walkout basement is at grade level. This means they can also have full size windows just like the rest of the home.

Daylight basements are a great option if your home is built on flat ground. They allow natural light into a basement that’s fully below ground. Walkout basements are fantastic if you have the land for them. Most are built on ground that’s highly sloped which allows a section of basement to be exposed.

Just about any basement can be turned into a daylight basement. All you need are some large window wells and the right windows. However, building a walkout basement is much harder. You need the right property with enough slope to accomplish the design. Not all basements can be turned into a walkout. For this reason, there are a lot more daylight vs walkout basements.

You probably know what a basement is, but did you know there are different types.

If you have any questions or comments about a daylight vs walkout basement, email any time.

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