If you bought and currently live in a very old house, you probably have a basement that was actually a cellar and/or cistern at one time. That means it was not necessary to construct a deep basement because the cellar and cistern did what the original homeowner needed them to do. People were also a shorter many years ago than they are today, so the overhead clearance your basement has was the perfect height for the original owners. If you want to increase the overhead clearance in your basement, there are two ways you can go about this. Neither are cheap, but both are effective. Here is what they are and how they differ from each other.
Add Height to the Top of the Basement Walls
This is a highly technical and potentially dangerous process. You may not be able to reside inside your own home while the contractor and his or her crew lifts your house completely up and off the basement walls. Numerous supports have to be built and bolted into place to support your entire home while the walls are being worked on. Usually, the contractor will use cinder blocks, rebar and cement to add some height to the walls, or utilize ready-made slabs to elevate your home. Once the walls are complete, the supports that are currently lifting your house off the foundation are gradually released and removed so that the house settles down on its new foundation walls.
Foundation Underpinning and Lowering Your Basement
The other approach a contractor like T. Luckey Sons' Inc may suggest (and one which may allow you to remain in your home while the work is under way) is lowering your basement floor. The process requires removing the basement floor, digging several pits to the depth of the new subfloor, and then using the pits for the foundation underpinning process.
During this process:
- The same posts used to elevate your home to build up the walls are used to support your home and keep it from collapsing down and into the basement.
- All of the bared soil around these pits and support pins is removed, down to where the new floor for the foundation will be poured.
- Some sections of the foundation walls are removed but some sections are left behind to support the walls themselves.
- The new concrete floor is poured, and the areas where sections of the wall were removed are filled to meet the floor.
- Then the remaining wall sections are removed and the concrete fills these areas to the level of the new floor too.
- Finally, the pin supports are removed (unless some of them need to remain because they are load-bearing).
The biggest difference between these two options is that one places more height at the top of your foundation's walls, while the other puts the "height" at the bottom of the walls and adds a brand-new floor in the process.