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Summary: A walkout basement is a good way to get more living area for the least amount of building costs.
Unfortunately, if a basement is completely underground it is not considered habitable space or living space by the building inspection department.
That is because habitable rooms must have two means of ingress and egress, one of which allows ingress and egress to the outside. Ingress and egress can be a door and a window or two doors.
But, if the basement is completely underground there is only one means of ingress and egress unless you install code compliant emergency basement egress window wells or a code compliant basement egress door. For emergency egress, the International Building Code requires a minimum 5.7 square foot clear opening with a minimum opening height of 24" and minimum opening width of 20".
Or, if your building site has a slope to it or is on a hill, you can build your foundation as a walkout basement. Problem solved!
Walkout basements are great. They provide plenty of light and provide excellent water drainage for a dry basement.
A walkout basement means that part of the foundation is at grade level and part of it is below grade.
First, a combination concrete slab and concrete wall foundation is poured.
Then the lower concrete slab is framed up with studs to the level of the poured walls.
Then the rest of the house is framed.
From the front or high side of the lot, it looks as if there is but one level.
Since the basement is going to be habitable space, it must be properly insulated.
Basement walls can be insulated from the inside or outside. Regardless, the job requires the expertise of a professional as improperly insulated basement walls can damage a home’s foundation.