Reasons to dig out your basement
Gaining additional space in your home is one of the most common reasons homeowners decide to dig out their basements. Basements traditionally have low ceilings that can make finished living space feel dark and crowded. Raising the ceiling height in your basement is a great way to gain additional head room and make your basement living space feel bright and open. You can accomplish this by lowering your basement floor. An additional one or two feet of space is all it takes to create a more useable living space that’s comfortable. Families that are expanding tend to need more bedrooms, a playroom, perhaps a home office or gym.
If you love your home, but wish you had more space, additional storage, or a brighter basement with higher ceilings, basement excavation may be an ideal solution for you.
What are the benefits of digging out a basement?
In addition to the benefits of more space in your home, a basement dig out is less expensive and less invasive than other types of home additions. If you don’t want to live in a construction zone and you aren’t keen on contractors trampling through your home at all hours of the day, this might be the perfect solution for you.
Basement excavation is usually the first step in building a home, but it’s possible to have a basement added or expanded after a home has been built.
How do you dig out a basement in an existing house?
There are a few options when it comes to digging out a basement. The method your contractor chooses will depend on the type of construction, the type of soil around your foundation, the topography of your property, and the size of your home or building. The most common methods are:
- Open Cut. There are two types of open-cut basement dig-out The first is the slope method where excess dirt is layered on top of a slope. The second is the cantilever method, which requires building retaining walls to keep the earth around your home from crumbling in around your foundation.
- Island. This is an inside-out method that starts near the center of the basement, creating a slope near the retaining walls and bracing the center to the outer walls. This is one of the safest and sturdiest methods of digging out a basement.
- Bracing. This method is both simpler and more cost efficient than the top-down method but more expensive than open-cut excavation. Here, weight from the retaining wall is transferred from the retaining wall to horizontal structs running from either side to reduce stain on the foundation.
- Anchored. This method can only be used in earth that is made up of extremely dense clay or bedrock. Still anchors are driven into the soil and through the retaining wall to provide stability to the entire structure.
- Top Down. This method is used in commercial building and high-rise urban homes. Load-bearing foundation walls are constructed with a concrete ground floor over the top before the basement is excavated beneath the ground floor of the building.
What is the deepest you can dig a basement?
U.S. residential building codes dictate that a basement can only be one floor deep or have a ceiling height of about eight feet.
How much does it cost to dig out a basement?
Digging out a basement when a home does not have one to begin with can be expensive. The cost is typically anywhere between $22,000 and $50,000. If your home has a crawl space, the cost is a little more reasonable, at anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. Keep in mind that homeowners who decide to dig out their basement will also need to budget for the following:
- raising or bracing the house
- building permits
- drainage system
- plumbing installation
- new foundation
Factoring these into your basement excavation will increase the total cost to as much as $150,000 – and that’s before you consider finishing your basement. While the costs seem high, it’s worth knowing what the return on your investment (ROI) will be. According to the 2023 Cost vs. Value Report, a basement remodel in St. Louis can provide a 70% return on investment.
What is the best time of year for a basement dig out?
In Missouri, it’s best to start a project like this as soon as the ground thaws in early spring. While excavation can be done during colder months, it’s more difficult and will take more time to complete.
What’s involved in a basement dig out?
A basement excavation or dig out is a big job, and not something for DIY. The first step will be to support your home by raising it on jacks or underpinning it. Underpinning is the process of reinforcing an existing foundationso that it can carry additional weight or so that it holds up to building standards. Digging under the new foundation is important because excavating the basement floor can upset the balance of the foundation, leading to structural damage or even failure.
Once the basement’s foundation is fully supported, your basement excavation team will use heavy machinery to clear out the space before pouring a new foundation made from a concrete floor and walls.
Waterproofing your basement
Water can cause severe, costly damage to your home, so it’s important to look for these signs of water or moisture before having your basement finished.
- Cracks in walls or floor
- Yellow or brown discoloration
- Water seeping into the basement where the walls meet the floor
- Damp odor around drains
- Mold growth
- Crumbling or rotting drywall, plaster, or wood
Water can seep into homes through drains, cracks and joints, and even over foundations. The deeper your basement dig out is, the greater the chances of finding water. Ground water exerts an incredible amount of pressure and force on the structure of a basement, which is why waterproofing is such an important step in any basement excavation project.
If you do find any water damage or signs of leakage in your basement, be sure to contact a professional that can repair the damage and waterproof your home’s basement. You should also have a sump pump installed to correct this problem before you begin your excavation project.
Dig Out Services in St. Louis City and St. Louis County
Competency, skill, and a tradition of excellence make Maplewood Plumbing and Sewer the best choice for your plumbing or remodeling needs. All our plumbers are licensed professionals with extensive industry knowledge.
Maplewood Plumbing and Sewer has been trusted by St. Louis homeowners for more than 35 years. Contact us today at 314-645-6350 or here for more information or to request a bid.
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