What Is A Daylight Basement? (Find Out Now!)

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Natural light goes a long way in modern homes, and homeowners build additions for that purpose. It is more and more common to see listings for homes with daylight basements, but what does that mean?

A daylight basement is a basement built on an incline with a door that opens up to the backyard. Daylight basements include windows to let light in the house, and a wall with a door flush to the ground. The only difference between a daylight basement and a walkout basement is that daylight basements feature windows.

Daylight basement additions are worth the cost and have an average 75% return on investment. Follow along as we explore the ins and out of daylight basements.

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What Is a Daylight Basement?

A daylight basement is a basement that is even with the backyard and has a wall with windows and a door. You can walk out into your backyard with a daylight basement, and they’re generally built on inclines. The front of the house serves as a ground floor and the daylight basement is flush with the back of the house.

Daylight basements are often necessary when you build a home on a hill to avoid an uneven structure. The addition of windows lets daylight into the space and makes the basement feel more vibrant and lively. Daylight basements are considered safe, but you still need to watch out for mold and mildew.


The average cost to build a daylight basement is $6,250, but it can cost over $73,750. Homeowners generally spend at least $500 on framing and $2,000 on flooring to add a daylight basement. Labor costs total an average of $2,5000, and the permit alone costs $1,1000.

Fully finished daylight basements are expensive, and lighting alone costs $2,750 on average. It is worth it to spend an extra $4,500 to waterproof your daylight basement to avoid expensive water damage repairs and mold remediation.

Installation costs vary based on the design of your daylight basement. For example, it costs an additional $3,250 to add a patio for your daylight basement.

Return On Investment

It is a wise investment to add a daylight basement, and it pays off when you sell your home. You can expect an average 75% return on investment when you build a daylight basement addition. A daylight basement is worth an average of $56,000 when you sell your house.

That can make the difference between a profit and a loss on the sale of a home. A high return on investment is only possible with a daylight basement if it is fully finished. Unfinished values only earn sellers 25% of the value per square foot than you would get if the basement was finished.

Pros and Cons of Daylight Basements

No home addition is completely perfect, but daylight basements come pretty close. They can be costly to build, but daylight basements are worth it for the added value that they bring to a home. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of daylight basements.

What Are the Perks of a Daylight Basement?

Daylight basements are a common and valued home addition. Here are the key reasons why homeowners often add daylight basements and rarely regret it:

  • Daylight basements add value to your home. The average 75% return on investment with daylight basement additions goes to show how much value they add to a home. You can only add this much value if you finish your daylight basement, but it’s worth the investment when it comes time to sell your house.
  • You can use your daylight basement as additional housing. Many homeowners either use their basement as additional housing for family members and guests, or they rent it out as an apartment. You can earn additional income if you have a daylight basement and put money towards your mortgage and bills. Use your daylight basement as an apartment to help pay the addition off.
  • Daylight basements are bright and comfortable. Natural light is a selling point for any home, and the windows in a daylight basement make the space more desirable. You can get creative with your windows and add an egress window for an average of $3,849 to let light in without it being overpowering.
  • Additional space. You can use the additional space as a workspace, a man cave, or to entertain guests. The separate entry that comes with daylight basements allows you to direct guests to another door, and that comes in handy if you rent the space out.

What Are the Downsides of a Daylight Basement?

Daylight basements aren’t without their faults, but they are mostly easy to overlook. Some of the biggest downsides of a daylight basement include:

  • It is expensive to build or add a daylight basement to your home. Daylight basement additions cost $6,250 on the low end, but a fully finished addition costs at least $50,000. The 75% average return on investment is great, but that doesn’t make it easier to spend that much money at once on an addition.
  • Construction can be difficult. Daylight basements are generally located on steep inclines, and that can make construction quite difficult. You will have to hire excavators, and it can be pricier than standard construction due to the incline.
  • Daylight basements carry a risk for mold and mildew. Basements of any kind are susceptible to mold due to the darkness and temperature. Even with windows, daylight basements still are at a higher risk for mold than the top floor of your home.

Daylight Basement vs. Walkout Basement

The difference between a daylight basement and a walkout basement is marginal. In fact, the only difference between the two is that daylight basements have windows to let in light. It is common to see walkout basements that have windows referred to simply as walkout basements, but you may know them as daylight basements.

Both daylight basements and walkout basements have an entry or exit door that walks out to the back yard. The added accessibility serves as a convenience, and daylight values add value to a home. If you’re torn between a daylight basement and a walkout basement, just think about how much you value natural light.

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Summing It Up

A daylight basement is a basement that features a wall with a door that opens up to the backyard. The wall and door are flush with the backyard, and daylight basements have windows that let the light in. It costs at least $6,250 to add a daylight basement, and at least $50,000 for a finished one.

Daylight basements and walkout basements are similar, but daylight basements feature windows. The average daylight basement is worth $56,000, and homeowners generally get a 75% return on investment.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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