When You Need Engineering for Your Basement Walkout

When You Do and Do Not Need Engineerings for Your Basement Walkout Entrance

Hey, Caleb Dansie here. Thanks again for tuning into our videos. I wanted to share with you today information on the engineering for basement walk-out entries and how we can actually maximize the number of different placement options we could put an entrance on a home, and then also when we need to have engineering done and when we do not.

I will run through a few different options with you today and show you three different situations on my computer screen. Two of the situations are where we actually have an existing window that will be turned into a door. The third option is no existing window, so we’re excavating and putting in a door anywhere in the foundation. 

I’m going to flip my computer screen around so that you can see that and we’ll jump right in.

Example 1: A Basement Window is Shorter Than 83 Inches - Structural Engineering Required

The first example that we have is when we have a window where the top of the window is shorter or lower than 83 inches above the top of the basement’s concrete slab. We have a foundation, this is looking from the outside. All of these are going to be the same view, looking from the outside. This here’s the top of the foundation wall. We have the existing window where the top of it is less than 83 inches high. And then the concrete floor down here is shown where the stairs are going to land on that landing outside. That’s going to be the same height as the floor inside the basement. 

This situation would definitely require structural reinforcement, something that’s engineered. In the video above, I’m showing you pictures of the exterior and interior reinforcement. That’s what the engineer specified. There are a lot of different ways that the engineer can plan this out, that would work. This is just what we had on these particular projects

Why a Structural Engineer is Required for Example 1

The reason we’re going to definitely need the engineering for the first option is that the height of the window is lower than the height of an egress door, which is 83 inches. It’s a seven-foot door as a standard. You cannot make a shorter door for an egress, which is an emergency exit. After we get the reinforcement cut and installed, everything is done, then we can move to cut the concrete opening, which is less than 83 inches tall, or right at 83 inches, at least. Then we can put in the door and then trim that out with either stucco, siding or just trim depending on the width and what that will actually be.

Structural Engineering Reinforements for a 2 Story Home in Herriman, Utah

The structural reinforcements will be unique for every home and the situation that we’re in with that. Here’s a picture of the reinforcements for the first option. The left side shows the engineering reinforcement that the engineer specified. We had to put these on both sides, the inside and the outside of the house. It’s there to make sure that concrete does not break or crack under the forces coming down from the home above it. It was a two-story home, and that was the load bearing wall that bore the load of the two stories and the trusses above that. On the right side, that shows how it was when we got all the doors installed and everything.

Example 2: No Engineering Required for a Window That's Higher Than 83 Inches Higher Off the Basement Floor

Our next example is where the window is actually higher off the floor inside the basement than 83 inches. This is where you’re not going to need any engineering because the only part of the concrete that we’ll be cutting is the lower portion underneath the window. We’re not disturbing the header, how they poured that concrete originally, and the foundation is sufficient. We’re not disturbing that, so there won’t be any engineering here. We can put in the door and take out the window and then trim that out with stucco, siding, or just trim, depending on the situation again.

Here’s a picture of that on the left side, showing the top, and the right side showing the bottom. This is a work in progress that isn’t completed yet. You can see that on the left side here, that header was never disturbed.

Example 3: Structural Engineering Required No Matter What - No Basement Window

Then the last example is the foundation wall turned into a walkout door where there is no window or any opening in the concrete. So we just have a blank canvas, and this is where you’re going to need engineering regardless, no matter what you do. I would recommend at this point, if you have the first situation where your window’s height is lower than 83 inches, you’re going to have to do engineering regardless. 

At that point, you don’t have to use a window to turn it into a door. You could go with this route, open up a lot more opportunities for different areas in your home, maximize functionality, side yard, backyard, privacy, or whatever you’re looking to do. This would really help because you can put it anywhere. It’s actually a lot more simple and the engineering costs can be absorbed because we don’t have to worry about the trim, stucco, or siding. We can just put the casing of the door around, which will actually save some costs as well.

Why Example 3 Can Be the Best Option for Your Basement Walkout Entrance

The reason why this is a great option is so that we don’t have to be constrained to the size of a certain window and work around that. It’s just a lot easier in some situations to go this route. The rule of thumb that you need to know is the concrete header. If that window is lower than 83 inches from the foundation, or the floor in the basement, then we’re going to have to disturb that header up top and have to do some engineering there.

If it’s higher than 83 inches, then we’re lucky we don’t have to do any engineering. That’s always exciting. But if you’re stuck doing engineering either way, then that opens up a lot of possibilities to put the walk-out anywhere else. A lot of people feel restricted to turning a window into a door, but a lot of times, if we have to do engineering, either way, it’s just as easy to put it anywhere else and can save some cost on the exterior finish if you don’t use a window.

Basement Finishing Resources for Herriman, Utah

I hope that helps you today. Thanks for tuning into our videos. If you have any questions, you can leave us a message on our website. On the right-hand side of our website, there’s a place where you can leave a voice message and a quick voice recording for us. And we can actually make a video and put that out into our channel and on our website. So other people can get those questions answered too. So anyway, appreciate you guys, and let us know what you think. If we can help you with finishing your basement or any other remodeling projects that you have, we’d love to hear from you. Have a great day. Talk to you soon. Bye.


Have you wondered what it costs to finish a basement in Salt Lake and Utah Counties?  Our basement finishing cost guide will give you everything you need to know.

  • Pricing for 1000 and 1500 square foot basement finishes
  • Pricing to include a bathroom, a kitchen, or open square footage
  • Pricing for Basic, Average, and Luxury Level Finishes
  • Basement walkout entrance pricing
  • Real project costs for basements we have finished
  • How to avoid the most costly mistakes while finishing a basement




Download the basement finishing cost guide

Download our FREE basement finishing cost guide. Inside we go over everything you’ll want to know.

  • Pricing calculation for any sized basement
  • Pricing to include a bathroom, a kitchen, a laundry room, or open square footage
  • Basement walkout entrance pricing
  • How to avoid the most costly mistakes while finishing a basement