I'm wanting to do a basement walkout for our rambler (Orem, Utah). Here's the steps I have so far:

  • Move service panel to the left of the photo
  • Use concrete saw to cut out line 58" from back of garage
  • board up rear door to garage
  • Call blue stakes (again) to double mark power lines
  • Dig out concrete & dirt with mini-excavater
  • Cut door out of basement foundation (concrete, rebar)
  • install door, cement steps out.


  • I'm not exactly sure where the footing is for the garage concrete, it could be 3' or 8' down. Even if it's in the way I'll still be able to cut a 40" opening (58" - 8" footing - 9" foundation wall).
  • the current 100A power conduit is smack in the way but since the power company is making me replace it to upgrade I'm going to move it as well.


  • When and where do I take my plans to the city?
  • How much of this work can I get done before it's approved by the city?
  • Is it even worth getting started before plans are approved?
  • Any additional tips from pros is very appreciated

*photo of back of garage (west) connected to house (right) Back of garage

  • 3
    In most jurisdictions, you risk serious fines if you start work before permits are approved. There's also the fact you seem to be big on cutting holes in the wall, a bit light on making sure there's an adequate header supporting the load that section of wall is carrying before you cut the hole out - which could end badly for you, your house, or both.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 11 at 0:56
  • 2
    Go talk to the people at the counter of your 'authority having jurisdiction' (ie, the permits office). They're only monsters when they catch you doing stuff. Commented May 11 at 2:05
  • Is the garage still a garage, or is it now living space? Does the basement go under the garage? Cutting a large hole in something holding up multiple tons of steel may not be a wise move.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 11 at 2:06
  • The garage is still a garage and there's no living space below it. The walkout will run along the garage exterior wall and ultimately go into the basement of the house (right).
    – Jacksonkr
    Commented May 11 at 3:38
  • How to you plan to mitigate the snow and rain from flooding your basement due to the walkout? Commented May 11 at 14:09

1 Answer 1


I'm reading the above as "the steps I have identified so far." Also I have the understanding that the door into the basement will be in (below) the section of wall to the right of the garage door, ie between that door and the brown down spout. The stairs would rise upward and to the left, parallel to the rear of the garage, with the top-most step in the vicinity of the BBQ/propane tank.

Electrical project

The electrical main upgrade/relocate may be best done as a project of its own. It goes something like this:

  1. Open a service request with Rocky Mountain Power. Tell them that you want to upgrade and relocate your meter-main, and request an appointment for a field rep to visit your site and come to an agreement as to where the new panel will be located and the route the buried conduit will follow.
  2. Talk with the city building department about an electrical permit; learn what level of documentation they'll require. At minimum you'll need a floorplan sketch showing the involved portion of the house and the locations of existing and proposed equipment. You'll also need an electrical block diagram illustrating your intent as far as extension of branch circuits, installation of subpanels, type of feeder wire or cable to be used, calculations for the wire gauge, size of any conduit(s) and their fill ratios, upgrades to grounding electrodes if needed, etc.
  3. Get the electrical permit from the city.
  4. Perform as much work as you can: hang the new panel, install the underground conduit, arrange for the new panel to be temporarily powered from your existing service, get all circuits transitioned over to the new panel, etc.
  5. At this point it could go one of two ways. If you've been able to move everything into the new panel it might be possible to have the city inspect and completely approve the work at this stage.
  6. Schedule service disconnect with Rocky Mountain Power.
  7. (if applicable) Do any work that had to wait until after disconnect.
  8. (if applicable) Call city for inspection of work.
  9. Call Rocky Mountain Power for service re-connect.

Rocky Mountain Power will require notification from the city building department before they will re-connect your service (I believe the city notifies the local office via phone or email, but they also usually leave an inspection sticker on the panel). If you were able to complete all work and pass inspection before doing the disconnect then RMP may do the disconnect and re-connect in a single visit.

The main project

I imagine it happens often that basement walk-outs get done without a permit. There's no permit applicable to the excavation per se, but there are building codes that will apply to the stairs (tread depth, riser height, consistency of risers heights, stair width, handrail, possibly storm water drainage, landings, for example). A permit for this should not be prohibitively expensive, and though it's no fun having an inspector around, going through the permitting process will help you refine your plan and make sure you have the details right before they're cast in concrete.

It doesn't seem like there are any factors here that might make the project prohibitively difficult to get permitted. It might be reasonable to get the excavation done before going for the permit because then you'll know the precise location and size of footings when doing permit documentation.


If the basement is deep enough you could retain the entry door to the garage. Pour a bit of concrete or frame some wood to create a garage-level walkway crossing over the basement stair landing. Looking at the level of the window in the adjacent window well, though, it looks like the basement is somewhat shallow and this may not be possible.

The brick facade rests on the foundation concrete. It's likely you'll need to devise a plan for supporting the brick when the foundation beneath it is cut away.

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