Adding a basement walkout to an existing home can be an exciting project. And for a good reason. Whether you’re getting set up for a basement apartment, an I-ADU (internal accessory dwelling unit), or looking to have better access to use the space you have in your basement. Here are some tips and tricks to hiring a basement walkout contractor. Following these tips can save you time, money, and headache.
The Most Important Factor in Choosing a Basement Walkout Entry Contractor
The most important pointer I can give is to find a contractor you can trust. If you can’t trust the guy from the start, doing a walkout basement entry with him will not be an enjoyable experience for him, or you. Once you find a contractor you feel comfortable with you’re off to a good start. Make sure clear expectations are set for everyone involved, and then work together to get the project done.
Hire a Local Company
There are a few reasons to hire a company that is local to your area.
1. This will help to make sure they are familiar with the area, the city, and the building codes that are required to comply with.
2. It will also help to keep the overall cost down on your project. Traveling long distances for a project takes time, and costs companies a little more.
3. It will also help during the course of construction if there is an issue that comes up, the contractors will be able to arrive at your house in a prompt fashion and be able to address the situation more quickly.
I would recommend looking for a company that is based no more than 1 hour from your location.
While having a business license or a contractors license is not a 100% guarantee that the contractor will be doing quality work; it does show that the contractor is indeed in business, has kept up with the state’s requirements of continuing education, and has not been involved in any behavior that would cause the license to become revoked.
Just like having a driver’s license does not guarantee you won’t crash a vehicle, it does show that you have been educated, and maintained the standards that the state requires to keep the driver’s license active. In Utah, you can check a contractor’s license at any time online for free. The State of Utah has a License Look Up and Verification Tool. All you’ll need to verify a license is either the company’s name or the license number. You can visit the State’s Website for Contractor License Verification Here.
Check for General Liability Insurance
Checking for Insurance could seem like a boring task, and in reality, it is. But in the small chance that you have an issue with your project, it is absolutely worth any time you spent looking for a contractor who indeed has insurance for the type of work you are having them do.
When you ask a contractor to give you his insurance information, ask him to have his insurance agent to send you a “certificate of general liability insurance”. You’ll most likely need to provide your name and address, so that you can be listed as the “certificate holder”.
The benefit to being a certificate holder is that you know that the certificate directly from the insurance agent and that the information is current and accurate. A second, benefit is that IF the insurance policy becomes canceled, you will be notified. If you do get one of these notices, it may cause a slight panic. Don’t worry just yet.
While it is true that the contractor is no longer insured with that company, it could definitely mean that the contractor switched insurance companies, and you would need to get another certificate of insurance. Simply ask the contractor to have his agent, or new agent send you another certificate of insurance.
Check Out the Contractor's Portfolio
All of these insurance and licensing checks would go wasted if the contractor did not have experience with doing walkout basement entries. Making sure the contractor has experience in this type of work is important. You can ask to see pictures of walkouts they have completed or even visit a walkout that they have done in the past. This would give you the opportunity to see firsthand the work the contractor did, visit with the people the contractor has already worked with, and ask them how their experience was working with him.
Look for Reviews Online
Read reviews online. The quantity of reviews is not as important as the content of the reviews – especially in construction where many great companies don’t care to track down reviews after a project is over.
Realize that all contractors have imperfect projects, and not all projects go perfectly smooth while they are being built. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – projects never go perfectly smooth, and a very good reason to hire a contractor to build your basement walkout entry is that he will be dealing with the daily challenges that come up in doing the work.
When you find a negative review, focus on how the contractor responds. Does he ignore it? Is he collaborative? Does he offer to help make anything right that he may, or may not have been at fault with? Does he value and care for his customers after their project is completed? These responses to negative reviews can really help you understand how a contractor will treat you on your project if things go “less than perfectly”
Code Compliance and City Inspections
Before hiring a specific contractor, ask how they handle the permits and building inspections associated with a walkout basement entry. Look for a contractor whose standard procedure is to apply for permits and pass all the city’s required inspections for the project. This is an easy way to make sure you’re not getting a contractor planning to cut corners on something if it’s not going to be inspected by the city’s building officials.
In Utah, most cities will require any concrete wall that is greater than 48″ from bottom of the footing to the top of the concrete foundation wall to be engineered and inspected.
While building codes are occasionally thought to be the “best practices” of building and construction, the reality is that building codes are only a “minimum standard” of performance. So, at a bare minimum, you’ll want something that will meet current code requirements, if not something better than that.
How Dansie Design Build Can Help You
We have been doing basement walkout entries as stand-alone projects since 2020. Most of the customers we work for are looking to convert their existing finished basement into an apartment, or a secondary living quarters for a mother-in-law’s apartment.
These basement apartments have proven to be a very good investment with a relatively quick return on investment, and a passive income stream from that time forward. If you would like more information on pricing for basement walkout entries, feel free to download our free Basement Finishing Cost Guide where we discuss the costs of basement walkout entries. If you have any additional questions you can reach out to us on our Request a Consultation form. We look forward to hearing from you! Thank you, and have a great rest of your day today!