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Walkout Basement Entrances - Ever built one?

stryker

TRIBE Member
Our basement is fully below grade but we'd like to turn it into an income suite. To do this we'll need to get a walkout entrance built, which turns out to be a nightmare of a job.

I'm reaching out to engineers to get drawing and contractors to get quotes /permits, etc... It's been a difficult process so far..

Has anyone here ever done a project like this on their home?

Worth it? Not worth it

stew :)
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
That is an Alex D-esque thread title if there ever was one !

I considered doing this to my place in Leslieville, but I have an unfinished basement and the floor would have to be lowered in order to finish it and put in the walk-up entrance and the costs for doing that 10 years ago were extreme, even back then. The architect I spoke with said it would be pretty complicated to get the variances and things changed at Toronto City Hall in order for me to do this in Leslieville, so I didn't bother.

There sure are some sketchy basement apartments on my street, most obviously were completed without city permits because they look like hovels that you have to bend over and basically crawl into. Although there is a pretty nice looking one up the street...
 

The Kid

TRIBE Member
A few of my neighbours are having this done right now, would suggest calling an underpinning expert especially if you've having to expose foundation and dig out below grade... lots to consider, sump pump, grey water pump, structural, etc...I'll try and scribble down a few company names for you I can't remember any off the top of my head...

edit: I live in a converted basement so managed to pick up a bit of knowledge here and there as it was being built

Ah I just realized you mentioned already dug out... still think underpinning firm your best bet as a new entrance would likely affect structural...
 

Bumbaclat

TRIBE Member
There sure are some sketchy basement apartments on my street, most obviously were completed without city permits because they look like hovels that you have to bend over and basically crawl into.

Don't build illegal units, even though there are tonnes of them. You're just one housefire away from a civil judgement against you so large that you will never stop paying it off.
 

Snuffy

TRIBE Member
Basement apartments are inhumane. If you build one, I hope your tenant ends up burning your house down.
 
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Snuffy

TRIBE Member
*PS: I take back the housing burning down bit if the walkout includes big windows into a deep, patio-like area big enough for a 2-person table and a few nice plants.

This is nice:

 

Jeffsus

TRIBE Member
I own a legal apartment, there are many things you should look into before doing this.

Since you've already moved ahead, I'm assuming you have looked into them.

Firstly is zoning. If your neighbourhood is not duplex zoned (or whatever it's called) then you're dead in the water. Forget about it. Your neighbours will complain before there's a fire.

Next, assuming you can do everything legit, there remains the question of do you really want to start being a slumlord millionaire? Call me wacky, but in general renters care less about a property than owners and yet they still have full "ownership mentality" as in they really feel it is "their place" to do with whatever they please. This seems to include guests and modifications. It's one thing to think "oh great I'm gonna make some extra money renting out some space" but don't forget that these are going to be real humans with real friends and you don't really have much power to control how they live. Even things like enforcing no smoking can be difficult or impossible.

You may make leases with them with certain conditions but realise that the leases are nearly meaningless because there is no way to enforce them. The cost to enforce them is greater than the cost benefit. You can evict them but then you end up in a constant eviction re-renting cycle which is tedious and unprofitable. ALso rental income is taxed at 38%.

In short, even if you do not use that space, you have to be willing to relinquish some personal sense of ownership in order to make renting it out work. For some people it's not worth it.

-jM
A&D
 
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lucky1

TRIBE Member
Does your house have a side entrance? Much easier to use that and the close in the basement stairs creating a separate entrance to the basement then put a hole through your basement wall with the stairs outside.
 

stryker

TRIBE Member
We don't have any side entrances. The engineer hasn't come by yet but we're thinking of maybe going through the cold seller. We'll have to get the foundations underpinned and a new door added.

The whole procedure is a pain in the butt and we haven't committed to anything yet. The city is ok with a basement apartment as long as it's up to code and is registered with the fire dept. We're walking distance from the GO train and the Highway so there should be a reasonable interest. The basement is huge and the neighbourhood is nice.

Not really looking to be a Slumlord Millionaire but circumstances have us thinking the extra income would be worth the sacrifice in personal space for the next 5 years or so and then we'l either reclaim the basement or sell/refinance the house.

I'll update as this project progresses.

stew
 

Ms. Fit

TRIBE Member
Yes please keep us posted! I'll be looking to possibly do this in a year or two myself (or at least, the whole underpinning-digging-out thing...).
 
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Snuffy

TRIBE Member
Does your house have a side entrance? Much easier to use that and the close in the basement stairs creating a separate entrance to the basement then put a hole through your basement wall with the stairs outside.
NoooOOooooOOooo... we need windows! Lovely, beautiful windows!
 

oeretS

TRIBE Member
One thing to consider is that converting your basement to an apt may lower your resale value compared to having full run. I've been asking some agents this question lately and this is what I'm hearing.

In my situation, I already rent out my basement, but have been thinking of kicking them out and building a staircase down there in anticipation of a future sale. From what I've been told, the cost of doing this might be worth it when it comes to selling. That said, I'm enjoying the 1000 per month so its tough...
 

Spinsah

TRIBE Member
I would think in this market a basement apartment is actually a selling future, at least from my perspective.
 

oeretS

TRIBE Member
that's what I thought too, but apparently there's enough people with money who prefer full run of a house. The basement suite attracts buyers with less money of their own.

I'm curious whether this is actually true, but I think in a housing climate like we have in Toronto currently, that it might be.
 
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Ms. Fit

TRIBE Member
that's what I thought too, but apparently there's enough people with money who prefer full run of a house. The basement suite attracts buyers with less money of their own.

I'm curious whether this is actually true, but I think in a housing climate like we have in Toronto currently, that it might be.
Still find it hard to believe. Who doesn't want a fully-functional "in-law suite"/"nanny suite"/rec room?
 

oeretS

TRIBE Member
in my case, the staircase to the basement is completely gone, so the basement apt has no connection to the house except for the outside entrance in the back yard. So there's no chance for a "rec room" without serious renos. Maybe they were speaking to my situation in particular, rather than someone who simply locks a door connecting the main floor and basement.
 

lucky1

TRIBE Member
we looked at many houses, some had basement suites. Some were just scary. One of the issues with buying a house with a basement suite is the "seller does not endorse retrofit status" or whatever the line is in the listing, many of those we saw were illegal suites so they could have been more of a liability then an asset. Not to code, improper fire breaks, etc. etc.

the house we bought was a duplex at some point (it had a kitchen in the basement, no fridge or stove, but still had the cabinets, kitchen sink and stove plug) we pulled most of the cabinets to put our new washer and dryer at the bottom of the stairs (the stove plug made it easy to put the dryer there, as did the existing sink and plumbing :) )

Our house does have the side door onto the driveway, which could be converted to a dedicated entrance for a basement apartment, or in our case single family. the side door was one thing on our list when house shopping.
 
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