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How Much Does Basement Lowering Cost?

How Much Does Basement Lowering Cost in Toronto?

Considering a basement lowering project for your home?  Lowering your basement is not your everyday home improvement project, though with the real estate prices in Toronto and the scarcity of land, it is a great option for expanding your living space without losing precious yard space.  If you want to find out more about basement lowering, read on.

Homeowners here in Toronto often ask about lowering their basement.  It’s easy to see why many select this option for their home.  In a process sometimes called underpinning, the basement floor is actually dug out a couple feet down.  This makes the basement more accessible and usable and can add to the value of a home.  Not only does it change a basement into better-added space, it also adds structural integrity to the home.

Underpinning job in Toronto home

Preparing for the Quote

As with any home improvement type project, there a few things that every homeowner should know and understand before they begin the process.  When it comes to your basement, of course, you are looking for a foundation or underpinning contractor who is a professional and experienced with the type of work you desire.  You’ll want to find a company that has been in business for awhile, is specifically insured for this type of underpinning work and one that can provide you with plenty of references since this type of project can be disastrous if done wrong.  When it comes to the structural integrity of your home, it’s always worth checking out a underpinning contractor thoroughly before hiring.

You may find companies who are willing to bid your job on the spot without drawings, without further knowledge or testing.  That ballpark bid could end up increasing drastically after you hire as there are many variable to consider and it means they have not gone through the process properly in order to give an accurate quote.  A reputable underpinning company will need to see exactly what you expect them to do.  Part of the process could include demolition and drilling test holes before beginning.  Often, when this part of the process is not done, the homeowner’s preference change and the company ends up with discrepancies in their work order that need to be resolved.

Hiring an Architect or Engineer

Part of the process for lowering your basement should include getting quotes from at least two professionals for drawings and determining which architect or engineer you plan to use before you even have a contractor come out.  Doing this part of the process ahead of time shows the contractor that you are serious about the process and will educate you on how the entire process works.  When a contractor knows you really do plan to have the work done, they don’t mind the 3 to 5 hours that are involved in coming up with a pricing estimate.  If you skip this step and ask a contractor for a bid on a basement lowering project without doing your due diligence you may end up with a range of pricing that is arbitrary and on down the road it may have no connection with the work performed.

An experienced underpinning contractor will only work with reputable architects and engineers with experience in basement lowering and can recommend one if needed.

Drawing/Plan Approval

The drawings you received from your architect or engineer typically need to be certified and then sent for approval for a building permit.  The inspector may recommend changes that will need to be marked on your approved drawings.  This is not an easy task so you want to make sure you have an experienced craftsman leading this project.

Understanding the Quote

To understand your underpinning contractor and his pricing and process, it’s important to note that basement lowering is a very time-consuming, labor-intensive process. And a challenging project from an engineering standpoint.  Your contractor will need to follow those drawings accurately and that takes skill and experience.  Compare quotes between a couple different contractors and check to make sure the scope of work is the same on both of them.

Scheduling the Work

When you decide upon a plan and agree on a price with your contractor, the work can be scheduled.  A contractor may be able to schedule quickly and be out in a few days or in may take weeks.  As always when dealing with a contractor, being busy is a good thing.  You don’t want to hire a contractor who isn’t busy.  It’s a bit like going to a restaurant where no one else eats and expecting a wonderful meal.

The Work Process

The unerpinning contractor will begin by measuring and marking everything out prior to beginning.  They dig out the basement slab and typically lower the floor 1-3 feet.  They will also shore up the underpinning or sidewall area to ensure structural stability.  We then carry out our lowering process, either bench footing (creating a bench to support the dirt underneath the foundation wall) or we underpin (directly removing the soil underneath the foundation wall and replacing it with concrete).

Once that is accomplished they typically waterproof the interior of the home, put down gravel then pour a new floor.  They also place a waterproofing membrane connected to a sump pump on the interior to help keep your basement dry.  The amount of time it takes and the cost of the project can very base on the size of your basement.  Some projects take a few days (mostly repairs) and some can extend into many weeks (average full job is 3-6 weeks).  While it is difficult to provide a price without drawings and discussions with the homeowner, you can expect this type of specialty work to run between $20,000-$50,000.

Project Completion

When the project is completed, you should walk the job with the foreman or project manager.  You’ll want to check for anything that seems unfinished or anything that doesn’t look right. You want to check that the city and the engineer passed all inspections throughout the project.  Also check to make sure that your contractor and his crew cleaned up after they finished.  You shouldn’t see debris left behind unless your contractor has let you know ahead of time that you are responsible for cleaning it up.  In most cases, the contractor does the clean up and removal unless otherwise agreed upon.

Do I Really Want to Do This?

Basement underpinning is by no means, a small undertaking as you probably understand by now.  There is research, time and money involved and may seem a little complex.  Yes, it takes preparation, thoroughness and quite a bit of your hard earned money.  If you find the right contractor, your project will go much smoother.  They are the expert, let them do their job.  Having underpinning done will also gives you more usable space that you can enjoy for years to come and adds value to your home.  In today’s real estate marketing, adding that value (which does not increase your property tax) can go a long way to helping the home sell.  Making the right decisions and following the process it takes to do the job correctly will be beneficial in the long run.

Nusite has successfully completed hundreds of underpinning projects in the GTA and can provide references upon request.  If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and have questions about lowering your basement, feel free to contact us here, we’re happy to answer any questions and explain how the whole basement lowering project works.  We can also recommend experienced architects and engineers if you are interested in getting started.

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NuSite Group is a Toronto based basement waterproofing and foundation repair company that specializes in Basement Waterproofing, Basement Lowering, and Foundation Repairs. Call us today at 416-622-7000 or 905-731-1228 for a free in-home estimate and inspection.

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Customer Testimonials

Interested in working with us? Check out some of our customer testimonials below and find more on Homestars. We are one of the highest rated basement waterproofing companies in Toronto

Mark Lipton - Homestars Review

Basement Waterproofing

Our basement leaked! Of course . . . we bought a 100 year old house! But my office needed to be in the basement permanently. I interviewed 10 different companies until we decided on the Steinbergs and their crew at Nu-Site! They are professional, reliable, courteous, honest, and they really make an effort to communicate with the client about every step of the process.

Sara Jack - Homestars Review

Foundation and Waterproofing Repairs

After several years of chronic leaks, we decided to have our basement waterproofed once and for all. The team over at Nusite was professional, answered my questions during the project and stayed within their quoted price....which is always a concern for me when working with contractors. Great job overall

Joshua Persaud - Yellowpages Review

Basement Waterproofing

Had several cracks in my basement wall and they would leak whenever we had a heavy rain. It started about a year and a half ago and seems to have gotten worse over the past 6 months. I tried having my neighbor seal it, but it started leaking again within a few weeks. Called several waterproofing companies and got several quotes. Finally went with Nusite contractors for the job. They gave a reasonable quote and I liked the guy that came by for the estimate. They stayed within budget and cleaned up before they left. It's been almost 3 months now and it seems to be working great.