In many old homes, basements only give enough room to access the foundation. They are not functional or legal to develop. If you want some extra living space, lowering your basement might be a great option. You can then legally develop your basement and make it a usable space.
Abarent has more than 30 years of experience in lowering basements across British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Using our proprietary Engineered System we have lowered basement floors as much as 36” (91.44 cm). If you have a 5-6′ (1.52-1.82 m) basement we can give you more space and guarantee our work with a stamped engineer’s design and compliance letter.
Abarent uses two main techniques of lowering a basement: benching and underpinning. Both involve structural changes to your foundation walls and footings that will enable you to have more usable space and allow you to have the basement waterproofed. Both are worth considering depending on the scope of work you wish to have done in your basement, the amount of new living space you want to create, and your budget. There are pros and cons to any project. Here’s how to lower a basement floor.
Benching is the more efficient and less expensive basement floor lowering method because it helps deal with some of the issues, costs, and liability that may occur if dwellings are close together. Benching does not require lowering the foundation walls and floor.
A concrete bench is constructed over a slope below the foundation footing. The bench will be reinforced with steel rebars and integrated into the new basement floor. This acts as a strut to horizontally reinforce the bottom of the original footing and prevents it from sliding and collapsing.
Underpinning requires an excavation (usually from the interior of the basement) under the existing foundation floor and wall. We dig in short sections, recommended by a structural engineer on our team, to get to the desired depth and fill them with concrete and reinforce the new foundation with a cap.
This process provides a new foundation floor and extends the walls of the basement. We will need to assess your property, the soil condition, proximity of other properties, and other underground infrastructure (plumbing, electrical) to determine if this is the right option to pursue for your situation and budget.
The bottom line is that benching and underpinning are meant to reinforce your foundation. Benching will add less space to your basement, but it is better for smaller budgets and the project doesn’t take as long. Underpinning will give you a lot more space and make your basement ready for renovations, but it is more expensive, takes more time, and may require more effort and consent of your neighbors depending on the building codes and bylaws in your area.
Basement lowering can provide you with more space and give you that rec room, office, or entertaining space you’ve always wanted! It can add value to your home with more developed square footage, but the process must be undertaken carefully and with experienced structural engineers and construction professionals.
Contact us in our Vancouver office for more information or for an estimate on the cost to lower a basement floor.
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