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The ideal answer to a steeply sloped lot, walkout basements offer extra finished living space with sliding glass doors and full-sized windows that allow a seamless transition from the basement to the backyard. These homes fit most lot sizes and many kids of architectural styles, and you'll find them throughout our style collections.


How can I tell which of your plans have a finished, walkout basement?

We differentiate our walkout basement plans with an LL at the end of the plan number. Having said that, we can easily modify any of our plans to include a walkout basement, no matter what the style is if you have a sloping lot that allows for it. Just call us at 1-800-725-6852 to discuss any plan. Our LL plans will have a finished basement plan included in the set and also included in the price listed on our website.

What is a daylight basement?

A daylight basement is a basement of a home where part of the lower level is above ground and is able to accommodate full-size windows. The portion of the basement that is completely underground in a daylight basement is considered the actual basement. The lot must slope enough for the windows to be fully exposed and within regulation.

What is a walkout basement?

A walkout basement is similar to a daylight basement in that part of the basement is above ground, but there is room for full-sized windows AND a patio door. The lot for a walkout basement must also be sloped but to a larger degree than a lot for a daylight basement. The advantage of having a walkout basement is the outside space that becomes usable by the patio doors. Typically, the walkout lower level opens onto some kind of patio where an additional living space has been set up. Pools, ponds, gardens patios, and hot tubs are just a few of the many options we see our customers using this outdoor space for.

Is it cheaper to build a ranch home with a finished basement or a 2-story home?

There are many factors to consider when trying to decide to build up or out versus down for a basement. What is your lot like? Does it have enough slope to obtain full daylight windows and possibly a door for a full walkout? How much excavation has to be done to make the lot work for the basement? How high/low do your local materials and labor costs run? Is your area of the country feasible for digging a basement?

  • What is your lot like? If your lot is sloped to the back it is most likely perfect for a finished lower level. A ranch with a finished basement is typically less expensive to build than a 2-story and we are seeing a recent surge in our ranch house plans with finished lower levels.
  • Does it have enough slope? If you're going to finish the lower level, you'll want enough light coming in through windows and doors, so you'll want to have enough slope to be able to use full daylight windows and/or windows and patio doors so check with a local contractor to see if that's possible. Do the neighbors have a finished lower level? If so, chances are probably pretty good that your lot is also able to accommodate a lower level.
  • Excavation needs? The lot will need some excavation regardless of whether or not you need to dig a basement, just know that it will cost more in excavation, concrete, and labor to build a walkout, but typically it is overall less expensive. Check with your local contractor to verify as some areas of the country may run higher depending on the soil.
  • Material and Labor costs? Every part of the country has a different market rate for building a house, so your best bet on material and labor costs is to talk to your local contractor.
  • Is your area feasible for digging? Some parts of the country are built on solid rock, while others have very nice soil for digging. Again, check the neighborhoods. If they have basements, chances are that your lot will accommodate one too.

Will finishing the basement increase my home's value?

Yes. Most people think of storage needs first when they think of the extra space in the basement, but if you are able to accommodate windows and possibly a patio door, your lower level is the perfect place to add value and living area to your home. We see everything from extra bedrooms, game rooms, exercise rooms, family rooms, bars, and more requested in finished lower levels, so the sky is the limit. Most people DO keep separate storage space in the basement so it's best to keep that in mind as you think of how you will use the space.

The finished area in the lower level of your home will add value to the price of your home; it just won't be the same as above-grade space on a dollar per square foot basis. Having said that, we are seeing many clients building ranch homes with a smaller footprint to save on material costs and finishing the lower level at the time of building rather than waiting to do a remodel down the road. If the overall footprint of the home is smaller, you can also look for a smaller lot at a lower price which will help the budget.

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