Deciding Whether or Not to Dig Out a Basement

Deciding Whether or Not to Dig Out a Basement

It seems like our homes never have enough space. As families grow and we accumulate more stuff, we always need space solutions. Some of us look for ways to add shelving and storage to the space we have. But let’s be honest: that’s not always enough.

Your next option is to consider expansion of some sort. You might be able to build up or out. There is also the chance that you could build down and dig out a basement. But it’s important to understand your options and know when digging out a basement is a feasible solution.

Below are some of the things that you should be aware of to help you make a fully-informed decision on that basement dig-out project.

Neighbor Proximity

One of the things that will matter in this process is where your neighbors are in proportion to your property. Some neighborhoods have homes with little to no distance between them.

While you are digging down and not out, the proximity of the neighbors could affect your access as well as the stability of the project. If the homes are too close, there may need to be specific additions to the process, such as a shoring system. The challenge is that their home could actually collapse into yours if there isn’t enough space to support the dig.

The professional recommended minimum is that you have a 1:1 ratio of clearance between your neighbor’s house and how far down you need to dig. As an example, if you plan to dig 6 feet down for your basement dig out, then there should be at least 6 feet between your residence and your neighbor’s residence.

The other catch is if any of that designated space belongs to your neighbor, an easement will also be required. So ideally, you will have that 6 feet (or whatever the number might be) on your property alone.

Budget for the Project

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

You should understand that the cost to dig out a basement is often quite a bit more expensive than your traditional add-on or renovation project. The price will depend on several factors, and there may be some ways to cut down on costs.

You need to be sure your budget allows for it. Getting an estimate is a good idea to learn what the costs might involve. Remember that you will have the cost of digging, but there are additional expenses for your various lines, access, easements, and other elements.

This process requires supporting the home in place while digging, which is no easy feat.

Expansion Alternatives

Before you choose to dig, you may want to consider whether you have alternative solutions or if digging is truly your best option.

We get it: building up or out isn’t always doable. Just be aware that sometimes these options are more affordable if they can be done. If your heart is set on a basement, that’s great! You just want to make sure you consider your options to determine the best fit.

Some people choose to add an additional story to their home. Others build back or out if the space allows. And there are times that none of those can be an option, so digging might be your only choice.

Access for the Dig

There are different types of equipment that can dig like this. However, when you dig a basement for an existing property, you can’t just bring in the giant excavator. There simply isn’t enough room. Those are ideal for an open or new basement dig on a new property.

When the building is already in place and you dig underneath, most companies will create some sort of ramp access so that a mini digger can go back and forth digging out the space. In order for that system to work, there has to be enough space for it.

Some companies can also shovel by hand using a conveyor belt type system to haul out the dirt. If this becomes necessary, it will add considerable time and expense to the project.

Be sure to work with your digout company to determine what type of access will be available or suitable.

Consider Sewer, Power, and Utility Lines

In some cases, there may be lines that run beneath your house. Or you may need to consider how to connect your electric or utility lines into the new basement. These may require some additional cost to make it work.

For the basement digging, your sewer lines may have to be considered. If there are sewer lines in place, you might need to work around them. If you need plumbing or a drainage system in the basement, these are things to plan for as well.

Many people overlook some of these “extras” until the time comes to get them taken care of. Always do your best to figure out the details before the time comes to start digging.

Even a Basement Has Variables

One benefit of choosing to dig a basement is that it can be tailored to your needs to some degree. There may be certain standards to consider in the details, but you don’t have to create your basement just like someone else’s.

You can consider different height options and different size options as well. Remember that you want to make this work for your needs, and you may have certain limitations to work with.

Using a Professional

Ultimately, choosing to dig out a basement is completely up to you. Consider your options and the costs to determine whether it’s the best fit. When you do make a decision, work closely with a company that has experience with this type of project.

They will be able to help you plan, consider your options, and determine whether or not this can work for you in the end. Most of them can also provide an estimate for your convenience.

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