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  • Writer's pictureWallace Underpinning

3 myths about basement lowering

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

If you’ve read our last blog, How to increase your home’s value without tearing down: 4 Benefits to Basement Lowering, you might already be considering basement lowering solutions to add more liveable space for your home. Undertaking this renovation can be a daunting thought that might leave you with some unanswered questions.

To help ease your mind, we have compiled the top 3 myths about basement lowering:

1. My upper levels will not be supported

It is important to note that when you are carrying out basement lowering, the house and its floors do not move up or down during or after the project. They will stay in place, as the foundation and basement floor slab is lowered in phases, safely.

In fact, the house remains fully structurally sound, so much so that homeowners can live in their house during the project.

When you compare this to a house lifting project (where you are raising the height of the home), homeowners must move out for the duration of the project. This could take anywhere from 6 months – 1 year and, in some cases, longer.

It is important to make sure you are only dealing with experts who specialize in basement lowering. Using an unqualified contractor could lead to safety concerns, unnecessary spending, or improper techniques. Always ask to see your contractor's past work (like our gallery, for example). Using an underpinning contractor will also ensure that you have the necessary underpinning insurance, needed for a basement lowering project. Most general contractor do not have this type of insurance, as they tend to only carry general liability insurance which does not cover damages if underpinning projects go wrong. Make sure you check out these items prior to breaking ground!

2. Basement lowering causes damage to other areas of my home

Basement lowering and building laneway homes are the least disruptive methods of adding livable space to your property. As we mentioned in myth #1, you can still live in your home while it is being lowered.

At most – in some cases – a few drywall cracks may appear. These can easily be remedied by adding some drywall mud and paint. If you work with a company like Wallace underpinning, our own drywall contractor will repair any cracks. These cracks would only be cosmetic and not be an indication of any structural damage.

Basement lowering projects should always require a permit. Engineering & city inspections happen through various stages of the project and upon project completion. The inspector will ensure that the job has been done properly and safely.

3. It is easier to buy a new home or tear down

Buying a new home or tearing down and rebuilding has its pitfalls. We've listed the top ones here – but check out our blog on 3 alternatives to underpinning to learn more.

Pitfalls of Buying a Bigger House

  • Moving cost & time, including Realtor fees on the sale of the current house, legal fees, Transfer tax. Fees could add up to well over $100,000).

  • Real estate is selling for a premium per square foot compared to basement lowering which is a fraction of the price.

  • Unknown/unfamiliar with new neighbourhood and neighbours.

Pitfalls of Building a New Home on the Same Property

  • You must be out of home for a minimum of 1 year and - in some cases - 2 years while the new house is built.

  • While everything is brand new but comes at a steep cost. Budget for about $400/sq ft for a new custom home and in many cases the cost can creep up to $450-$500 for higher-end finishes, appliances, and fixtures.

  • In many cases, if an older house is demolished with a new house intended to be built in its place, your local by-laws may not allow for a bigger house. Depending on building and zoning restrictions, houses might be set back further from the property line, have height restrictions, or other restrictions that will cause the new build to have less square footage than the original.

In our article underpinning 101, we outline the typical costs of an underpinning project. When you compare this to the costs of buying or building a new home, you can realize some significant savings from a basement lowering project.

Basement Lowering Services from Wallace Underpinning

When looking for a basement lowering specialist it is important to make sure to use someone who keeps safety top of mind and uses best practices. Cutting corners to shave off a few extra dollars could put your safety and finances at risk.

At Wallace Underpinning, we specialize in basement lowering solutions in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Our experts provide a variety of consultations for:

  • Underpinning

  • Benching

  • Slab lowering

  • Combination: Underpinning, Benching & Slab Lowering

  • Crawlspace reclamation

Contact our team today for a free consultation.

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