How Much Does It Cost to Add a Basement Entrance?

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated January 24, 2022
Basement door and patio
Jason - stock.adobe.com

The cost to install a basement entrance averages $6,250 depending on the type of door and scope of the project

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Your basement holds endless possibilities, especially if you've been dreaming of transforming it into a cozy TV room, a basement bar, or even renting it out as a separate apartment. In these cases, adding a basement entrance to the outdoors is your first step and top priority—and often required by local building codes. From start to finish, expect the project to cost between $2,500 and $10,000.

How Much Does a Basement Entrance Cost by the Size of the Project?

Adding a separate entrance to a basement can mean several different things depending on the structure of your house and the project you're looking to accomplish. On the larger scale, you're typically looking at two types of doors: a bulkhead door or a walkout entrance. 

A bulkhead—also known as a cellar or Bilco door—comes into play when you're adding a sloped metal door for an unfinished basement. Walkout entrances, on the other hand, are fully framed traditional doors that lead to the ground level of a finished basement.

Whichever you choose, your bottom line will come down to how much work you'll need to do to your foundation, lawn, and surrounding patio. Let's break down some common costs.

Framing the Door

Foundation and digging aside, framing a walkout entrance door and adding a header can cost between $350 and $800. This includes the cost of the building permit. 

Foundation Prep and Labor

A team of contractors must prep several areas of the exterior of your home to prepare for the door itself. This may include:

  • Digging around the outside of your foundation so the door is level with the basement floor

  • Cutting the concrete wall to insert the door

  • Adding steps and a patio

  • Adding a retaining wall around the staircase

Materials and labor for this stage can run from $500 to $4,500 depending on the size of your project.

Adding a Patio

If you plan to install a patio at the same time, you'll pay anywhere from $10 to $50 per square foot to build a patio.

Door Removal

Switching out an old bulkhead door for a walkout door? Remember to account for the removal of your old door, which can cost between $400 and $600

What Kind of Basement Entrance Can I Get on My Budget?

Adding an entrance to your basement likely falls within a large-scale project like finishing your basement. Or maybe you're simply looking to upgrade your bulkhead door for a safer entrance to the cellar. Either way, it can play a large role in your final budget. We'll take a look at budget ranges for each project.

$500 to $1,000

This range typically covers easy door replacements that you can handle on your own without altering your foundation, patio, or basement structure. Bulkhead doors can cost as low as about $500 and pre-hung exterior doors can cost $150 all the way up to $3,000. The cost of replacing a door yourself includes the materials and the cost of tools to remove the old one.

$1,000 to $2,500

Hire a professional to install a bulkhead door to your basement, including materials and labor. You can also install higher-end, pre-hung basement doors in this range if you do not need to bring in a pro for additional installation.

$2,500 to $5,000

The average price range to prepare your exterior, cut the hole in your foundation, and install a walkout entrance falls between $2,500 and $5,000. Add a small staircase and patio as well.

$5,000 and Up

Expand your exterior design if your budget reaches over $5,000. Consider adding brick or pavers to your patio, choosing a custom door and frame, or adding an egress window at the same time.

How Much Does It Cost to Add a Basement Entrance Yourself?

If you're simply adding a pre-hung exterior basement door into a pre-cut space, or even switching out your old one, expect to pay less than $100 for tools plus the cost of the door itself. 

However, the moment major excavation or foundation work comes into play, you'll need to give the pros a call. Cutting into your foundation will require a permit and green light from a structural engineer.

Basement Entrance Cost Breakdown

Exterior of a house with a basement entrance
Jason - stock.adobe.com

When you're in the early stages of a major project like adding an exterior door, it can be tricky to know where to start. As we detailed above, adding a basement entrance typically includes the cost of:

  • Materials (the door itself, pre-hung walkout, or bulkhead door)

  • Framing the door and adding a header

  • Cutting the entranceway hole

  • Excavation costs

  • Local building permits

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Basement Entrance by Type?

Let's look a little closer at these two main types of basement doors. While both offer a safe and convenient way in and out of your basement, they serve different purposes and, of course, come with different price tags.

Bulkhead Doors

Heading down into an unfinished basement is much simpler if you don't have to enter from inside your home. These doors range from $500 to $1,000 for materials and $1,000 to $2,000 for all labor and removal costs.

It's important to note that states have strict building codes about what counts as an egress exit for any room considered habitable. Bulkhead doors are typically reserved for accessing unfinished cellars and basements used for mechanical equipment.

Walkout Exits

Higher costs come into play when you need to restructure the foundation and exterior of your home for the full walkout door. This is when you can expect the price range above, anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 depending on the scope of the project.

What Factors Influence the Cost to Add a Basement Door?

The cost of your basement door project comes down to where you're starting and where you're headed. For example, if you already have a tall foundation wall above ground, you'll need minimal excavation to add the door, stairs, and patio. If you're digging into your landscape and laying a patio, expect higher prices.

Additional contributing factors include:

  • Style of door installation

  • Door and frame materials

  • Strength of your foundation

  • Age of your home

  • Your local region (for price ranges and the density of the ground)

  • Patio and stair style

FAQs About Installing a Basement Entrance

Now that you're ready to launch your project, where should you start? Hiring the right team to guide your project is the key to a smooth, safe, and affordable experience.

How do I install a basement entrance?

Finding the best team of local contractors is your first step to installing a basement door. Even if you plan to DIY the doable parts of the project—replacing a pre-hung door, for example—you'll need a professional to survey your home to get started.

This may include working with a structural engineer, door installer, or patio contractor.

Why should I install a walkout entrance for my basement?

Full walkout basement exits can upgrade your home in a number of ways. Adding a living space can increase your home's value and possibly earn you some rental income. In most cases, you are also required to add an egress door or window for any livable area, including a finished basement.

What other projects should I do at the same time?

Once you've opened up this space to the outside world, the sky's the limit when it comes to basement renovation opportunities. Outside your home, design a deck or patio that connects to this new basement entrance. Indoors, reimagine this living space to include a guest bedroom, an entertainment space, or a home office.

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