Basements are fantastic storage spaces, but a lot of people who have them are looking for ways to get even more room – and you might be wondering whether there is a way to enlarge your basement without spending a fortune on it. Making the space bigger will give you more room to store household items, or give you a more practical and convenient space.
So, how do you enlarge your basement? You might be wondering whether you can expand it outward, but another option could be to expand it downward, giving you more height in the room. Can basements be dug deeper, or do they need to be left at their original proportions?
Can a basement be dug deeper? A basement can be dug deeper, but this will need to be done by a professional firm that is able to follow building codes and make sure the space remains safe and secure. The proper approach needs to be taken to minimize the risk of compromising your home’s structure. Checks will need to be taken to ensure there is room to expand downwards before you start.
Can You Dig Your Basement Further Down?
In many cases, you can dig your basement deeper, although this does depend on quite a few factors. Firstly, you need to know that there is room to expand downward, and that you don’t have sewage pipes underneath (or these will need to be dealt with). You’ll also have to make sure that the underpinning won’t affect the stability of neighboring homes.
You will also need to check the water table, as it must be a minimum of 24 inches below the new intended floor level. If you don’t check this, you may go beyond the water table, and this could cause water to leak into your basement.
Other things that you will need to think about include things like installing an egress window, if the basement is going to form a bedroom, so that the occupant can get out of a fire occurs. Waterproofing and insulation will be further considerations, so don’t overlook these when you are costing your project.
How Does Digging Down Work?
To dig your basement deeper, you will need to undertake a process called underpinning. Underpinning strengthens the foundations of your home and allows you to dig your basement deeper without compromising the structural integrity of the home. How far you can expand your basement will depend on the conditions in your local area.
Usually, the company you hire to expand your basement will begin by digging some holes beneath your current foundations. Most of the foundations will be left untouched, and then these holes will be filled with concrete, offering support to the building. From here, further holes will be dug and filled with concrete, extending the home’s footing down into the ground.
Next, the company will install steel beneath your home, anchoring this deeply into the ground, so that the foundation’s weight is supported. The foundation will be put into place, and then the old basement floor can be removed.
The company will excavate the remaining soil down to the new floor level, and then pour concrete to create the new floor. Finally, the company will replace any soil that they dug out around the home, and the basement can then be insulated and finished according to your needs.
As you can see, this is a pretty complicated process that will require lots of tools and expertise. You should not attempt to do it yourself; this isn’t a DIY project! You must hire professionals, or you could compromise the safety of your home and possibly even neighboring properties.
Is Extending Your Basement Downward Expensive?
The price will be very project-dependent, but basement expansions are rarely cheap. A lot of equipment is required, and you may be paying for skilled workers too. Often, a basement expansion will cost between $30 and $75 per square foot, although this will vary enormously from project to project.
The setup you have, the conditions of the ground, how much underpinning is needed, and various other factors will all factor into the cost of the project. You should get quotes from several different companies before you decide whether to go ahead with this, because it is not going to be cheap.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that extending your basement will often be cheaper than extending your house upward. If you value your backyard space, but you want to extend and building up isn’t an option, a basement extension is certainly worth considering.
It’s also important to bear in mind that a basement extension could add value to your home in the future.
Do You Need a Permit to Dig Your Basement Deeper?
This depends on your area and the scope of the project, but you will usually need a permit, yes. It’s generally considered a big project that could affect others in the neighborhood, and therefore you will probably need permission. Always check with your local authorities before you start a project like this.
It’s not usually very difficult to get a permit for a basement expansion, although you will likely have to show professional plans, and you may be subject to inspections while the work is ongoing. This is to ensure that the work is completed safely and to a particular standard.
Will You Need a New Moisture Barrier?
Yes; you will essentially need to finish the new floor like you finished the old one. That will mean installing a moisture barrier to prevent water from seeping up into the room, and it will also mean handling things like insulation, drainage, etc. If you have pipework or electrical cables under your house, these will need to be dealt with.
In many cases, you can expand a basement by digging it deeper, and this is an excellent way to make the space more flexible and useful, especially if it is currently not at standing height. However, this is an expensive and fairly complicated project, so you should think carefully and do thorough research before you undertake it.