Walkout Basement Walls

What is your opinion about building a walkout basement with concrete on all sides except for the wall where the walkout door would be? Is it structurally as safe as a complete concrete structure or are there any issues to worry about, especially in case of flooding?

Sonia

Hi Sonia,

A walkout basement needs to have concrete walls for structural strength when the walls are less than 18” above finished grade (dirt), then conventional wood framing can take over.


Concrete walls, no matter what anyone else tells you, are always damp and cold…always…in any climate and in any season. So, it makes sense (and cents) to switch to wood as soon as the finished grade allows.


As for the wood framed walls strength, there is no dirt pushing on the wood framed walls, no hydrostatic pressure either as the wood framing is above grade, so the wood framing is fine.

As for the flooding part of your question, I hope you mean minor flooding such as flooding caused by a leaky basement.

One of the main advantages of a walkout basement is the fact that with proper waterproofing and drainage, the chance of a flooded basement is greatly reduced.

The chance of flooding is reduced because rain and runoff water have gravity helping them go around the structure and drain away from the house on the side where the wood walls are “at grade”.

A sump pump is still required with a walkout basement by most building codes, so that tells you that a walkout basement is not immune to flooding.

But flooding is irrelevant as to whether the walls are concrete or wood.

Carl

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