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The Journal of Light Construction‘s website features a great slideshow on what happens when a determined homeowner wants to expand their place and can’t go up or out.  In this case they went down –- 11 feet and 300 cubic yards of dirt worth of down, to be more exact.

Though this wouldn’t work for everyone, the large-scale subterranean home project did turn out pretty well, from what can see of the pictures.  The new floor space must have added about thirty percent more square footage to their home, but they’re betting that the bracing will support the house above — not a maneuver we’d recommend for the faint of heart.

Adding Under [JLC Online]


4 Responses to Digging Down For Added Space

  1. Old Coot says:

    I note no safety helmets on the two workers shown, but then again how much could that help if (when?) that skimpy shoring fails.

  2. Fabian says:

    Gosh, I’d love to add a basement to my California house. But, with all these earthquakes, would it be safe?

    How much a full basement job cost, totally finished i wonder?


  3. BJN says:

    Three years ago we our “shelf” basement excavated by a contractor who specialized in this type of job. Shelf basements are common in the Salt Lake City area in houses built over 80 years ago. In our basement, around the entire footprint of the house was an unexcavated shelf 4′ high and 4′ wide. The center area had 7′ 6″ clearance, but the space wasn’t very useable except for laundry, some workbench area, and storage.

    The contractor cut a ramp to the foundation and cut an opening wide enough for a small Bobcat to drive through. My wife and I had removed two unused brick chimneys before the start of the project to open up the floor plan. The contractor removed the concrete that enclosed the shelf, then dug at intervals around the footings of our brick house so that the new underpinnings were poured in several segments. The shoring for the centerline of the house was quite scary at times. We had some minor cracking of our plaster and lathe walls.

    The biggest complication and slow down for the job was running new waste pipe. We wanted 8′ ceilings so we had to tunnel through the front of the foundation to a point where the new pipe could tie with the old at the correct grade. We’re on a hill and that point was fortunately on our property just in front of the sidewalk.

    Between the excavation and plumbing contractors, we spent $75K and I’m sure the price would be well over $100K today. I have yet to finish the basement. We lived in the house during excavation and the job took nearly nine months. Would I recommend this? No, not unless you have a place you really love and you don’t have other good remodeling options. You should also be a masochist, ideally.

  4. rbb says:

    That’s nothing. They added an additional 250,000 square at the Pentagon by digging out the basement and adding the mezzanine.

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