Basement Underpinning : Expand Your Basement
“Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” – Gucci Family
Less mess, more space, no taxes! You love the neighbourhood. It’s got a great elementary school, your kids love their teachers, their friends, and the high school around the corner has a great reputation. You like the 20-minute commute to work, the local Starbucks has your incredibly complicated coffee order down pat and 10 years ago you could see yourself staying here until you retire. Lately, things have gotten a little tight and you’re running out of room. You swore 1400 ft.² would be all that you’d need. Your spouse now works from home, two kids turned into three and you’re thinking, what are our options? The only way forward is to build up or build out but the costs associated and the potential disruptions to your schedule look extreme. Tear the roof off? Yikes! But what if there was another option?
DON’T BUILD UP OR OUT – BUILD DOWN
You could put an addition on at the back, like your neighbour did. “A box in the backyard” they called it. This means workmen, materials, etc. would have to come through the front door of your home because there’s no access to the back. Blocked access drives up the price and you’re wondering if you would get that money back when it comes time to sell? Adding on another floor is possible. Some of the neighbours have done it and although the home looked beautiful when finished the process seemed to go on forever. Will you need to move out for part of the renovation? Can you put up with all of the disruptions? Do you hire a general contractor or tackle it yourself?
Before you make a trip to Mark’s Work Warehouse for steel toed boots or start thinking about what colour hard hat you’d like – there is another solution. Plus, it won’t increase your property taxes and it’s right under your feet!
BASEMENT RENOVATIONS HAVE CHANGED
When you bought your dream home years ago the basement was definitely not a selling feature. The ceiling height only 5 feet; it’s cold, musty, and you only ventured down there to do the laundry. The furnace is in the middle of the room, taking up usable living space and there’s a cold cellar at the back of the house, under the porch, but it’s really just a place for creepy crawlies, your wine collection and old hockey equipment.
Across the street is your neighbour, Zack. He now has an odd-looking contraption poking out of his front basement window. Occasionally, a disposal bin is there at the side of the house and workmen are putting soil into the bin. The bin is promptly taken away. All of the work seems to be done through the front window, through a hole cut in the basement wall. It doesn’t seem nearly as disruptive as the other renovations that your other neighbors went through.
You notice your neighbour Zach in the driveway, so you ask, “What is that funny looking contraption?” Zach replies, “That’s the conveyor belt. It’s part of the basement lowering process; it’s really quite amazing! You should come over before next Wednesday when they pour the basement floor. We installed radiant heat flooring too. We can have three different temperature settings, depending on which room we’re in. The bathroom can be a little warmer and the cold cellar is not a cold cellar anymore. We’ve added 700 sq. feet of living space to our home for a fraction of the cost of an addition”. Taking Zach up on his offer, you knock on his front door the next week and you’re welcomed into the front foyer. Everything looks surprisingly normal; no mess, no tarps, no dust.
“Everything is done through the front, below grade,” Zach says. “Come on downstairs and check it out.” When you open the door to the basement and begin to descend the stairs, you realize this looks nothing like your basement.
What first strikes you as you’re going down the stairs is the height of the ceiling. “We dropped the floor three feet” Zach explains. “We could practically play squash down here now!” As you get to the bottom of the stairs, you notice piping everywhere running in a looping pattern across the floor. “That’s the radiant heat system I was telling you about,” Zach excitedly explains! “We added extra insulation underneath so we wouldn’t lose heat.”
As you look around the room you notice something very different from your basement and it’s not just the height. “Where are the support column posts, your furnace and your water heater?” you ask. Zach replies, “Our contractor recommended a great engineer. We added extra support beams so we could take out the posts and move everything to the back corner. We can put anything we want down here now, pool table, home theater; you name it!”
Your basement is dark and dingy, and this is anything but that. “Because of the slope at the back of our home we were able to put in the basement walkout and we’re adding two larger windows at the front that the contractor will finish on the way out!” says Zach. “We made sure that the new windows were to code, in case the next owner wants to put bedrooms down here. It will just increase the value of our home when it comes time to sell.”
Thanking your neighbour for the tour, you begin doing the math in your head as you walk home, across the street. Adding everything together (including the cold cellar) you realize it adds up to 900 square feet. That’s almost 65% more living space! Because you’re already paying property taxes on it you won’t have to pay for making it more usable. Just like your neighbour Zach, all of the underpin work can be done below grade, through the front of the house. The solution was literally right under your feet the whole time!
If you love where you live and are running out of room click below to discuss the possibilities. Heritage structures and tight access projects are our specialty.
DOING IT RIGHT
By doing things right, following the process above to the letter and using the most robust materials possible, we know the repair will last; our 42-year longevity proves that! Our crews take pride in their work and have been with us for decades!
We’re old school, and it works.
6 Step Repair Process:
Scope of Work
Structural Iron Work
The Robust Choice
Cost Vs Workmanship
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
So, What’s Next?
Observe and Document
Observe and identify the foundation leak or structural deficiency and document.
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