Everything You Need to Know About Lowering Your Basement

Are you looking to gain more living space? There are a number of options available to get that extra space in your home. You can either tear down your home and build a bigger one, build an addition to your home or if you don’t already have a finished basement, you can dig your crawl space and lower it. For most homeowners, lowering the basement is the best option because it is far more affordable than building a new home and it doesn’t require any more space as an addition would. But is it worth it? Find out everything you need to know about lowering your basement here.

When Is Lowering Your Basement Feasible?

Not every basement is built with 8 feet of ceiling space. Some are merely designed to be used as a crawl space, while others have a small amount of livable space available with electrical and plumbing ductwork running along the ceilings. But just because there isn’t enough room down there right now, doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to transform your basement into full-height, livable space. If you need more space and you don’t already have a finished basement, digging out your current one is the best way to get that extra room you need.

The Benefits of Lowering Your Basement?

There is a number of other reasons to lower the floor than just increasing your living space. Lowering your basement can also help you to bring your home up to code, address underlying structural problems, stabilize a weak or degraded foundation, upgrade your waterproofing and drainage system, and create space to access the plumbing and electrical systems more easily. Adding more space and structure with a basement lowering is also a great way to add more value to your home. 

Can You Do It Yourself?

You should never attempt a project like this on your own. Lowering your basement floor is a big job that is extremely complex. One mistake could result in irreparable structural damage to your foundation, which is why the work should only be done by a professional foundation expert. 

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost will depend on a variety of factors such as the size of your basement, the depth of the dig, access to the site, the technique used to raise and brace the home, whether or not plumbing and draining will be installed or if it will be finished or left unfinished. In Ontario, a basement lowering project can range anywhere between $20,000 and upwards of $150,000. 

Will I Need a Permit?

Yes, you will need a permit and proper stamped structural engineering drawings to obtain the permit. It’s important to note that it can typically take anywhere from 25 and 30 days to obtain a permit.

How Long Does It Take to Complete?

The amount of time it will take to lower the basement will depend on the scope of the project. A typical project takes approximately three weeks to complete. More complicated work can take a number of months from start to finish. 

Is Basement Lowering Disruptive?

Depending on the time of year and the scope of the project, basement lowering can be a disruptive process that requires the homeowner to temporarily move out of the home. If this is required, the foundation expert will provide you with all the information you need and the expected timelines.

What are the Techniques Used?

There are two primary techniques used to lower a basement. The first is underpinning and the other is called bench pinning. With underpinning, the contractor will excavate below the existing footing and then pour new footings at a lower depth than the original. Then they will rebuild the wall in sections to be flush from top to bottom before digging the basement floor out to the new depth. It is a slow process that is more expensive to complete, but it’s a much better option than bench pinning as it will add more strength and also address any structural issues in the foundation. With underpinning, you can address any cracks in the foundation, install new waterproofing, and undertake plumbing and electrical upgrades all at the same time.

Bench pinning, on the other hand, is a faster and more affordable option because the contractor does not need to dig out new footings. Instead, it involves digging down to the new depth and creating a bench along the perimeter walls. There will be no change to the existing foundation wall. But it will make the basement smaller by several feet because you are adding an extra foot of bench along the base of the wall for every foot you go down in depth. 

Before you make any decisions to lower your basement, it’s important to consult with a qualified foundation expert. Contact us today to learn more.

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