Many homeowners are finding unique ways to create more space and more value in their existing home. The
Rising home prices and increased zoning restrictions have put pressure on New England home owners to get creative to find more space.
One often over looked and notoriously “creepy” spot in many classic New England homes is the basement. Traditionally these spaces were designed to house mechanicals and be a space for storage. As home prices have increased existing home owners have turned to major basement renovations as a way to add space and increase their homes value.
The most important aspect of a basement project happens at the start and begins with ensuring the existing conditions are dry, waterproofed and stable.
Many homeowners are now starting with a slab removal and replacement. This involves removing the existing concrete floor, if it has cracks, is weak, is in some cases (non existent). A new concrete slab floor will ensure a more level, dry and secure space for finishing the basement.
In more urban areas like Cambridge and Somerville where many homes were built in the 1800’s and early 1900’s many basement heights are very low, well below what is required for useful square footage especially once the area is completely finished with framing, ceilings, plaster and flooring.
A strong and growing trend is to lower the existing basement through a dig out. This process is called a basement lowering. A basement lowering is done through removal of the existing slab or concrete floor and excavation of the earth (sand, rock, clay) that the house is built on. During this process we work with a general contractor, engineer and in some cases architect to ensure the appropriate support design and structure is in place. Once excavation is complete and knee walls and bench footings are installed a new fresh layer of rock is poured and then a new concrete floor or slab is poured.
Once completed this new lowered basement can be a perfect space to finish and provide you with beautiful, usable square footage. Compared to the costs of additions whether over a garage or side yard or through the roof, basement, lowering is a much more cost effective route to gain square footage. Also considering the space is existing typically the time frame for a project like this is much quicker and less invasive if you currently live in the home.