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Digging Basement Deeper: Everything You Need to Know

digging basement deeper

Digging Basement Deeper: Everything You Need to Know

Basements are typically used for storage, but with the cost of owning a home on the rise, it can be difficult to find enough living space for a growing family. One option is to dig deeper and lower the basement floor. In this article, we’ll look at basement lowering techniques, the benefits of gaining extra living space, and the potential costs and risks involved in this process.

What is Basement Lowering and Underpinning?

Understanding the Basics of Basement Underpinning

When you’re looking to add height to your basement, underpinning is one option to consider. This involves digging down beneath the existing foundation walls and footings, before installing new footings at a lower level. The new foundation will then be built on top of these footings, allowing for more headroom in your basement.

Exploring the Concept of Basement Lowering

Basement lowering is when the entire basement floor is lowered, providing more living space in the process. The process often involves digging down more deeply than underpinning, which can be done by benching or underpinning.

What is Bench Footing?

Bench footing is a technique used to provide additional foundation support when lowering a basement floor. It involves digging out the existing basement floor by hand to create steps or benches in the soil, which are then reinforced with concrete. The new floor is then constructed on top of these newly created levels. This technique allows for a lower basement floor level while still maintaining structural integrity.

How Much Does it Cost to Lower a Basement Floor?

Factors that Affect the Cost of Lowering a Basement Floor

The cost of lowering a basement floor can vary greatly based on a number of factors. The size of the basement area and the depth you are looking to achieve, the condition of the existing basement, and whether you choose to hire professionals or attempt the project yourself can all impact the overall cost. Other factors to consider include plumbing and electrical work, waterproofing, and the need for additional structural support.

Typical Cost to Lower a Basement Floor

The average cost to lower a basement floor in the United States is around $30 to $40 per square foot. This means that if you have a basement area of 1000 square feet and wish to lower the floor by 3 feet, the cost could be between $90,000 and $120,000. Keep in mind that these are just estimates and your actual costs could be lower or higher depending on your specific situation.

DIY vs. Professional Basement Floor Lowering: Which is Cheaper?

While it is possible to attempt lowering your basement floor on your own, it can be a time-consuming and physically demanding task. Hiring a professional company with experience in basement lowering can bring added efficiency and quality to the project. However, this will come with a higher cost than completing the project on your own.

How Deep Can You Dig Your Basement?

Exploring the Limitations of Digging Your Basement Deeper

The depth you can dig your basement to depends on several factors. The weight of the house on top of the foundation walls and footings, local building codes and regulations, and soil conditions in the area can all impact how deep you can dig. In general, it is recommended that you do not exceed 8 feet for a typical residential basement.

How to Add Height to Your Basement without Lowering the Floor?

If you’re looking to add height to your basement without digging down the floor, there are some options available. For example, benching or underpinning can be used to increase the height of your basement ceiling without lowering the floor. Another option is to remove any ductwork, wiring, or plumbing that is located in the ceiling of your basement and relocate it to the walls, allowing for added ceiling height.

Benching vs. Underpinning: Pros and Cons

Both benching and underpinning have their advantages and disadvantages. Bench footing can be a cheaper option as it does not require as much structural support, while underpinning can provide more additional living space as it allows the entire basement floor to be lowered. However, underpinning is more time-consuming and can be more expensive than benching.

How Does Basement Lowering Work?

The Process of Lowering Your Basement

The process of lowering a basement floor can be complex and time-consuming. First, the existing basement floor is removed, either through benching or underpinning. The soil underneath is excavated, and the necessary plumbing and electrical updates are made. Next, the new foundation walls are poured and the new floor is installed. Finally, everything is finished off with waterproofing and insulation to ensure a dry and comfortable living space.

How to Waterproof Your Lowered Basement?

Waterproofing your lowered basement is a critical part of the process. A sump pump system can be installed to remove any excess water that might seep into your basement. Additionally, a drainage mat can be applied to the walls, protecting the new foundation from water damage. Water-resistant coatings can also be used to provide added protection.

What are the Steps Involved in Lowering Your Basement?

The first step in lowering a basement is to consult with a professional contractor to determine the feasibility of the project. Next, permits and inspections will need to be obtained from your local government agency. The excavation process will then begin, followed by the installation of any new footings or supporting structures. The final steps involve pouring new foundation walls and floors, installing drainage systems, and finishing off the space with drywall, flooring, and paint.

What are the Benefits of Lowering Your Basement Floor?

Added Living Space

The most significant benefit of lowering your basement floor is the significant increase in living space, which is especially important for growing families or those who work from home.

Improved Basement Ceiling Height

Lowering your basement floor can also provide improved ceiling height, adding to the sense of spaciousness in your home.

Enhanced Insulation and Energy Efficiency

Lowering your basement floor also provides an opportunity to update the insulation and energy efficiency of your home, potentially saving you money on utility bills.

What are the Risks and Challenges Involved in Digging Your Basement Deeper?

Dealing with Existing Foundation Walls and Footings

Existing foundation walls and footings can present a challenge when digging deeper. Through benching or underpinning, the necessary support needs to be provided to prevent any damage to your home’s structure.

Excavation, Plumbing, and Waterproofing

Excavation can be a lengthy process, and it is essential to ensure that all necessary plumbing and electrical updates are made before the new foundation is installed. Proper waterproofing is also necessary to prevent future flooding and water damage.

Calculating the New Square Footage and Perimeter

When you lower your basement, you’ll be increasing the overall square footage, which can impact your home’s property taxes. It’s important to calculate the new square footage and perimeter of your basement after the project is completed and update your home’s value accordingly.


Is Digging Your Basement Deeper Worth the Cost and Effort?

Digging your basement deeper can be a costly and challenging process, but it can significantly improve the livability and value of your home. It’s essential to consider all of the potential benefits and risks before deciding whether this project is right for you.

Q: What is digging basement deeper?

A: Digging basement deeper is the process of excavating beneath an existing basement floor with the goal of increasing the depth of the basement.

Q: How can I add height to my basement?

A: You can add height to your basement by digging it deeper. This can be achieved through underpinning or benching.

Q: What is underpinning or benching?

A: Underpinning or benching is the process of excavating the soil beneath the foundation of a building and pouring new footings to create a deeper basement.

Q: What is benching?

A: Bench footing is a method of excavation that creates a series of horizontal levels or “benches” in the soil. This is used to create more space in your basement without decreasing the square footage of the basement.

Q: What is the method to lower my basement floor?

A: To lower your basement floor, underpinning or bench footing is often used. This involves digging beneath the foundation of your home and pouring new footings or creating a benching structure.

Q: Is underpinning more expensive than benching?

A: Underpinning is generally more expensive than benching due to the complexity and labor involved.

Q: What is the height to my basement without digging it deeper?

A: The height of your basement without digging it deeper will depend on the construction of your home. If it was built with a crawl space or an unfinished basement, it may be possible to add height without excavating.

Q: What is the space in my basement after digging it deeper?

A: The amount of space in your basement after digging it deeper will vary depending on the area of the basement and the method used to lower the basement floor.

Q: What is involved in underpinning?

A: Underpinning involves digging beneath the foundation of a building and pouring new footings to support the structure as it is lowered.

Q: What is involved in bench footing?

A: Bench footing is similar to underpinning, but instead of pouring new footings, a series of horizontal levels or “benches” are created in the soil to create a deeper basement.

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