Expert Basement Underpinning in Toronto
Did you know that you can convert the unusable space in your home to a livable space? Well, you can achieve this through a process called underpinning or lowering a basement. Most homeowners would like to increase the livable space in their home, but they have a small plot of land. Lowering their basement is the solution.
Through underpinning, homeowners can add extra height to an unfinished basement or crawl space and turn it into a usable area. Lowering the basement can help increase the load capacity of an extra story in your house. It can also give additional support to the foundation or the heavily cracked foundation walls.
Are you a homeowner in the Greater Toronto Area looking to do basement underpinning? Well, don’t worry about a thing. We’ve got you covered. Budget Reno will remodel your basement through basement lowering to add extra space to your home.
What Is Basement Underpinning?
Lowering the basement is the process of getting rid of the soil underneath a concrete slab or crawlspace. Excavation then takes place to create a lower support level, followed by the addition of new walls, floor, and concrete footers, to extend the depth or strengthen an unstable foundation.
The key benefits of basement underpinning include the following:
- Your basement will become more accessible
Any sort of construction done to the basement reveals hidden mechanics. This makes your house easily accessible for inspections, repairs and upgrades. Underpinning makes it easy to modernize an older house by replacing the old electrical wires, plumbing and other connections. It also gives you a chance to upgrade the insulation and waterproofing system.
- Increase overall height
Basements in most older homes have low ceilings. This makes the rooms feel cramped. Underpinning helps transform the room into what you like.
- Eliminate structural problems
Many foundations have structural issues caused by soil types, extreme weather conditions and damage caused by inexperienced contractors. Underpinning gives you a chance to stabilize your home and prevent future structural damage.
- It is a least expensive project
Underpinning allows you to expand your house’s square footage cost-effectively. The project will also not disrupt your normal routine since the work only affects the basement.
The entire underpinning process requires professional expertise. You need a trained and experienced team to help with everything from the foundation walls and excavation to footings and concrete floor replacement.
Basement Underpinning Process
The process of underpinning is a complex one. That is why it must always be done by qualified and insured experts. Basement underpinning requires more than just digging up the existing floor to achieve more depth. What you may not already know is that digging up the existing floor increases the risk of structural damage. The smallest mistake can compromise your entire home’s stability. Professionals dig under the home’s foundation and create a new foundation under the existing one that can bear the additional weight of the house.
Our team will start by performing a careful evaluation of the foundation and the surrounding areas. This is done to determine the job and building code requirements relating to excavation depth, electrical re-routing, concrete work and plumbing. Our experts will then complete the different steps involved in underpinning. Here is the detailed process we use. Our experts are happy to explain every step in more detail.
STEP 1: DEMOLITION WORK:
The majority of homes in Toronto have underutilized basements. This is often because the basements have low ceilings and feel cramped. As a result, most homeowners only use their basements as storage areas for the things they rarely use. Underpinning helps transform a basement into an extra usable space. The underpinning process usually starts with the removal of all items from the basement, followed by the demolition of the existing floors, walls and other finishes. The purpose of demolition is to make it easy for the contractors to have a clear and open work environment required to start the basement lowering process. When the basement is clear, planning will be easier.
STEP 2: REMOVING CONCRETE FLOOR:
The transformation of the basement begins with the removal of the existing concrete floors. Needless to say, it is not easy to remove concrete floors. One of the hardest parts of a basement underpinning process is getting rid of the heavy concrete floors. Work starts by first identifying the location of the utilities.
If the concrete floors are more than 4 inches thick, power tools may be required. The same goes for reinforced floors. To determine how much work will be needed, the contractor starts by breaking off an edge piece or expanding an existing crack. This helps determine how thick the floors are and the type of reinforcements used.
STEP 3: SOIL EXCAVATION:
Once the concrete slab is broken, the heavy demolition is over. The next step will be removing the concrete slabs from the basement. When the area is clear, work begins on removing soil. Basement underpinning is all about increasing the height of your basement. This involves a lot of excavation work. Soil is excavated in order to increase the height of the basement. The dirt is removed from the basement using several methods. The contractor may choose to use conveyor belts or wheel barrels out of the basement. The selected method will depend on the access that your basement allows. The contractor will handle soil disposal for you.
STEP 4: UNDERPINNING SECTIONS:
After acquiring proper engineering and city-approved drawings, the existing basement will now be divided into vertical sections. These sections are marked as 1, 2, 3, 4 over and over again. The numbers signify where the same numbered sections will have to be excavated. It is the underpinning teeth or sections that make up the structural integrity of the underpinning. A contractor will pick a number. For example, they can pick the number 2. All the sections that have been marked 2 will be cut and excavated. The sections are then formed, and new concrete is poured into the lowered height. The contractor will then pick another number and repeat the process until the entire space is covered.
STEP 5: INSPECTIONS:
When not done properly, basement lowering has the potential of compromising the integrity of your home. That is why regular inspections have to be done at various stages to ensure the weight-bearing columns or walls are not compromised.
Throughout the structural excavation stages, a licensed engineer or city inspector has to sign off on the work done. This helps ensure that the basement lowering scope is done as per the local building codes. Our team works closely with a licensed engineer who inspects every stage of the underpinning process. Inspections not only guarantee that the project is up to code but also ensures that we are heading in the right direction towards meeting your approved basement designs.
STEP 6: DRAINS:
Unsurprisingly, basements are more likely to take on water than any other room in your home. The last thing you want is for your magnificent basement renovation to be ruined within a few months by water damage. That is why the next step in basement underpinning is the installation of drainage systems. We will discuss with you the available options and help you understand the pros and cons of each option. New drains will then be installed, connected and inspected before any work continues. Our team will also perform pressure tests to ensure all the plumbing connections are correct and there are no leaks.
STEP 7: WATERPROOFING AND GRAVEL:
Located below the ground surface, water leaks from the outside are not the only issues you have to worry about in a basement. Water may also seep up from the ground and cause damage. That is why proper waterproofing is so important.
Once the basement has been dug properly and the new foundation has been set, the next step in eliminating future drainage or water leakage problems is waterproofing. Our professionals will install a waterproofing delta foundation before layering gravel on top of the soil. This is the best set up by the best underpinning contractors, Budget Reno. We ensure that you never have to deal with water leak problems once the project is done.
STEP 8: INSULATION AND RADIANT FLOOR HEATING:
Located underground, the basement receives little heat from the sun. The floors are cold, and it can be a tad expensive to heat up a basement. That is why you should consider improving your basement even further during underpinning. One of the best things you can do is to install radiant floor heating. Installing underfloor heating will ensure that your concrete floors are never icy cold. The underfloor heating system will further radiate heat to the rest of the room. It will also solve the issue of dampness on the floors. If you are not sure about installing radiant flooring, we can advise on the pros and cons of this system. Our team will also help you pick the best insulation for your basement.
STEP 9: SUMP PIT AND SUMP PUMP:
At least once a year, cities experience massive rainfalls. In some cases, these heavy rains overload the outdated city drainage infrastructure. As a result of this, flooding becomes prevalent. Massive rains are the main cause of basement flooding. What you may already know is that there are city incentives and rebates that are paid to you if you had a licensed contractor install a sump pump system together with a sump pit. Installing a sump pit and sump pump is undoubtedly the best upgrade you can make to your basement after an underpinning project. Our experts will help with the installation of a sump pit and pump before we pour the concrete floor slab.
STEP 10: POURING BASEMENT CONCRETE SLAB:
Prior to pouring the concrete, all the sewer and electrical lines have to be in place. This is because these lines will be embedded in the concrete. Below the concrete lies a pile of gravel that is covered by a waterproofing sheet that keeps moisture from getting to the concrete slab.
Once the concrete is poured, a screed board is used to smooth out imperfections. Jitterbug tools are used to bring any water, sand and cement to the surface. This is done to ensure the concrete has a surface that is smooth and durable.
The basement underpinning is almost complete when the concrete pad is poured. All that is left is finishing touches and cleanup.
How Basement Underpinning Works & Why It’s Important
Moving from one place to another is becoming difficult for many people as the price of houses keeps soaring. You can make things easier and better by considering basement underpinning as a home renovation option to get an extra room for accommodation or something else. There are several steps involved in basement underpinning. It is important that you know these steps so that you are at ease once the project starts.
Many homes are built with 8-foot deep foundations. When the basement is left unfinished, you will have a suitable amount of headroom. However, once the ceilings and floors are installed, the 8 feet shrink quickly, leading to a claustrophobic space. If mechanical systems have to be accommodated, the space will be even smaller. Since the aboveground structure cannot be raised without investing a considerable amount of money, the alternative is basement lowering.
Lowering the basement floor is the most practical way of creating additional space in a home. The work must, however, be done by a professional. That is where our team at Budget Reno excels. We have completed many basement underpinning projects, and we will be able to bring your vision to life and within your set budget. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.
Why you should do basement underpinning?
Basement lowering is one of the numerous options homeowners consider a way of adding more living space in their homes. There are three key reasons why basement underpinning is important:
Helps create an extra living space
Basement underpinning solves the issue of having a basement that feels cramped. As a result, you can transform the basement space into any room you want. You can turn the space into a home gym, bedroom, playroom or anything you desire.
Boost your house’s value
Renovating your basement will significantly boost your house’s equity. When underpinning, you will end up doing a lot of repairs, renovations and upgrading the old systems. Moreover, turning an abandoned basement into an extra, usable room makes your home more valuable. This is because buyers are more interested in renovated basements as opposed to an abandoned basement space.
Second source of income
Renting out your basement means you will have a secondary source of income at your disposal. The money can be used to pay taxes, finance a vacation or save up for a project you have been working on. The second source of income will be more valuable if you are still paying monthly mortgage installments. You can use the extra income to reduce the mortgage burden.
Underpinning can help you get extra space that can be used as:
Basement income unit
Recreational & entertainment space
Benefits of doing basement underpinning
1. Improve the structural soundness of your home
The first step in lowering a basement is removing the items in it, breaking the concrete floor and demolishing other non-weight bearing structures. Leaving the structure bare will help you know if your home’s foundations had been improperly constructed or if it has been damaged in any way by extreme climate changes, repairs or has any sign of wear and tear. Prior to pouring the concrete to cover things up, your contractor will first take care of any structural issue that your home might have. Underpinning thus provides you with structural soundness and the assurance that your family and possessions are not in an unsafe home.
2. Increase the ceiling height and enhance the lighting
Basement underpinning will increase the head-room in your basement. The contractor will remove the concrete floors, excavate the soil beneath then install waterproofing, gravel and concrete floors. The lowered floors result in a higher ceiling; therefore, the basement space will no longer feel cramped. The increased headroom makes it easy for you to create additional rooms. You can renovate your basement into a home office, home gym, bedroom, playroom or anything you want. Underpinning may also make it possible for you to add larger windows and doors, which will, in turn, increase the amount of natural light that gets into the basement. If installing larger windows is not an option, you can improve lighting by adding better lighting fixtures in the high ceilings.
3. Update old plumbing and electrical lines and improve insulation
Basement underpinning involves the removal of the concrete floors and excavating the ground beneath them. The pipes, power lines and systems that are buried beneath the floors will have to be removed. The lines that run through the walls can also be inspected and a decision made on whether to retain or update them. When covering the lowered basement, you will have the perfect opportunity to improve or update the outdated plumbing and wiring. It will also be a perfect time for you to install new insulation or install new systems that you need such as a sump pit and a sump pump. Modern electrical fixtures can then be added.
4. Boost the value of your property
Homeowners are more interested in more living space. That is why more home buyers are more interested in homes with a finished and underpinned basement. The reason for this is because having a finished basement means the homeowner will have a usable basement space and will not have to spend money and time underpinning an unfinished basement. Moreover, underpinning a basement helps improve the structural integrity of a home. Home buyers want the assurance that the property they are thinking about buying has structural integrity. Even if you don’t plan on creating an extra space in the basement for your family, when it is finished and underpinned, you can transform it into a rental unit that generates income. Simply put, a finished basement offers a great return on investment.
5. Bottom line
All things considered, underpinning your basement is less expensive and a much less disruptive method of increasing your living space. It is cheaper to perform basement underpinning than it is to add an addition to your home by either increasing the footprint or adding a level. The cost of underpinning the basement is lower, and the solution further improves the structural integrity of the house. Needless to say, the cost of improving structural integrity is much lower than the cost of handling extensive repairs in the near future due to structural problems. Moreover, you don’t need high-end materials when finishing your basement. Hardwood, which is an expensive flooring material, is a terrible choice for a basement because of the high moisture issues. You can use less expensive flooring materials that fare well in a basement environment.
Here are the steps necessary in basement underpinning:
Designing the new space
After the initial evaluation is complete, an engineer and architect will design the new space. They will draw plans showing how the load-bearing walls will be moved or extended. They will then have to submit the stamped drawings to the local municipality, after which they’ll be issued with the necessary permits to begin construction.
Preparing the site
After the drawings have been completed and the permits have been issued, construction work can now begin. Furnace connections will be re-routed and all ductwork and equipment will be moved out of the way. The technicians will install vertical jacks or temporary supports to hold the building in place as the underpinning goes on.
Removing concrete floor
After excavation has taken place, the floor will be removed to help pave way for easy access to the foundation of the house. This will help constructors determine how deep the new supporting material should go. The foundation will determine the depth of the new floor. Also, the current foundation should remain strong even after the basement lowering.
Underpinning Walls by Sections
Underpinning walls by sections happens immediately after the new level of the foundation has been defined and the floor removal process has taken place. Afterward, the footing sections beneath the current foundations can be installed to reinforce it and increase the stability of the building. The sections must be underpinned at different points to increase the surface area covered. The basement lowering should be at least 20 inches deeper.
Other Steps Necessary in Basement Underpinning Include:
Removing furniture & personal belonging
Demolishing current basement
Replacing & connecting drains
How long does it take to underpin your basement?
It all depends on the current height of the basement and the desires of the homeowner. In most cases, basements are lowered to achieve a new height of 8 feet. On average, underpinning is between 2 and 2.5 feet. The average duration it takes to lower a basement, after the necessary permits have been granted, is about 35 days.
The duration may be shorter or longer depending on the size of your basement and how much underpinning is needed. The concrete floor may also have an impact on how long the entire project takes. If your basement has reinforced floors and the concrete is much thicker, special equipment may be required to break the concrete. This will cause the project to take longer.
Access to your basement will also determine how long the project takes. If the team is not able to use conveyors to remove the dirt, you can be certain that taking out the dirt will take longer. This will, in turn, cause the project to take longer.
There are many factors that affect how long it takes to underpin a basement. An experienced professional will be happy to discuss the expected timeframe with you.
Important aspects about your basement lowering
Basement underpinning is complicated and requires a lot of processes. Considering the work done can compromise the integrity of your home, each process is handled with utmost precision. Regular inspections are also done throughout the project to ensure the integrity of your home is upheld. With that in mind, it will be a bit expensive to complete a basement lowering project, but the end product will be worth the investment. It is, therefore important that you have a budget in place before you get started with basement lowering.
Another crucial thing you have to do is have a reason for lowering your basement. For some homeowners, basement underpinning is considered a way of saving the house from a failing foundation. Even if this is the case, you have to think about what you want to use the basement for. When you know what you want to use the room for, you will know the type of insulation to use, the fixtures to install and the finishing to use.
Waterproofing is also something you have to think about when renovating your basement. The last thing you want is for high moisture and flooring to ruin a perfectly renovated basement only months after the project is done. Measures have to be put in place to prevent leaks and high moisture. Once the work is done, you also need to install electrical systems and other fittings that are crucial for the purpose of the new living space.
Finally, you must have a post plan for how the basement will look and make sure everything is working properly. You can either install the necessities on your own or have a team of workers do it for you.
How much does it cost to underpin your basement?
There is no exact formula for calculating the exact cost of a basement underpinning project. Estimators will analyze the square footage and the linear footage of the basement that needs to be underpinned. The estimator then looks at accessibility to the dig from outside the house. The equipment that will be used and the amount of manual work that will have to be done will also influence the total cost. The average cost of basement underpinning is between $5,000 and 7,000 if no complications or additional problems get in the way. The cost can be lower or be as high as $30,000.
On average, it will cost you about $80 per square foot in basement underpinning. The cost of excavation for lowering the basement is about $450 per linear foot. You also need to account for the cost of drawings and permits. The cost of hiring an architect to complete drawings and get a basement lowering permit is about $2,500. This cost can go up to $4,500 depending on the size of the basement and difficulty.
Foundations built on expansive clay, compressible or improperly compacted fill soils can suffer various damages from settling and shifting. The most common signs of foundation issues include cracks in the walls and doors that aren’t closing properly. If you note any of these problems, you should seek immediate professional help for inspection. If not repaired quickly, a damaged foundation can become irreparable and can make your whole house unsafe. In most cases, when it comes to foundation problems, the longer a homeowner delays the repair, the worse the problem gets and the more expensive it becomes to resolve the problem. The important point you need to remember is that foundation problems never resolve on their own. They only get worse.
Once you notice signs of foundation problems, the first thing you must do is get an inspection report as well as recommendations from a structural engineer. A disinterested structural engineer will offer an unbiased opinion on the best solution to the foundation problems. If you start by visiting a foundation repair business professional, these professionals may recommend solutions that are best for themselves and not best for your house. That is why the first person you should visit is a structural engineer and then visit the repair professionals with an engineer’s report. You then need to ask for their estimate on executing the structural engineer’s recommendations.
Piering and Slabjacking
Piering and slabjacking are the two most common methods used to secure sinking concrete foundations. With piering, underground support is used to lift the concrete. The repair crew digs deep to install the piers under the foundation. Hydraulics are used to raise the foundation back into the right position. It is then stabilized.
With slabjacking, pumps are used to fill a mixture into the space beneath the concrete foundation in order for it to float back to the original position.
A structural engineer will help you choose the method that is best suited for the foundation problem. Piering is more expensive because it requires a lot of excavation and the installation of hydraulic piers. All the same, this method offers permanent results that are rarely compromised. Slabjacking can be as effective as piering, but the solution is vulnerable to further structural shifting due to soil instability.
Typical Cost Breakdown
An inspection report from structural engineers costs about $300 to $800. A soil composition analysis will also need to be done. Geotechnical engineer costs range from $500 to $2,000. The cost will be based on the complexity of the issue.
A crack repair to concrete foundations costs from $400 to $800 – the cost is determined by the extent of the structural damage. For an entire basement floor replacement, the cost will be between $200 and $400. If you need foundation reinforcements using anchor bolts in an area prone to earthquakes, the cost will range from $1,500 to $3,500.
The majority of foundation repairs require underpinning by steel or concrete piers to secure the foundation on stable soil. The cost will depend on the type of piers, the depth that has to be reached and local labour rates. Piers 6 to 8 feet apart will cost between $1,000 and $3,000 each. Underpinning a single corner of the house will cost between $3,500 and $5,000.
Why Choose Us?
Budget Reno is one of the best home renovation company in Toronto, we have the expertise and resources to help you achieve all your home improvement goals. We’re experts in basement underpinning, concrete floor replacement, excavation, foundation walls, and footings. Consult with our team of highly-trained professionals to receive a careful evaluation of your foundation, surrounding area, excavation depth, electrical re-routing, plumbing, concrete work, and building code requirements.
We tailor our renovation to match your requirements and budget. We provide affordable, standard and luxury renovations depending on your goals and budget. For an idea of how much the renovation will cost, please see our online estimate tool.
Budget Reno works with a team of structural engineers and licensed architectures. Any structural work that requires the removal of a load-bearing wall and extensions has to be reviewed by our engineers and drawings provided to help obtain the necessary permits.
Our registered interior designer will draw your space and provide sketches and concept drawings before the project starts. We do this to help you visualize how the new space will look. This guarantees that we create a space that is pleasant, to your taste and one that gives the best value for your money.
We stand behind our work. That is why we offer 2 years’, no-questions-asked warranty on our workmanship and materials. We answer your call on the spot or the same day, and the problem will be addressed within 48 hours. Take time to read our reviews to see what recent clients are saying about our warranty.