Underpinning, also known as basement lowering, often includes lowering the basement floor, adding floor drains, a laundry room, insulation, stud wall partitions, waterproofing, reinforcing the foundation, and sometimes a basement walkout and the cost and time it takes will depend on exactly what work is being carried out.

Methods of Underpinning

There are several different underpinning methods that can be used to lower your basement, the method used depends on your foundation, soil type, height increase you desire as well as your underpinning budget.

You can dig a basement as deep as you please, but of course, more work is involved the deeper you go. if you’d like to go further than eight feet then the foundation walls may need to be reinforced. But before you get started, drawings and permits need to be taken care of. In general, the structural engineer will take care of these and obtaining permits may take as long as two weeks or even more. The cost of the permits will depend on the job’s linear footage and this will also include the drain and plumbing permits.

finished basement Toronto

Finding a Qualified Underpinning Contractor

It’s also important that you take the time to find a properly-licensed contractor who is specifically insured for underpinning work since this particular job isn’t covered by the company’s general liability insurance. Be sure to view a copy of the insurance certificate and it should be for a minimum of $2 million. It should also include your name and address. When searching for a contractor, you may want to ask for references and to see a portfolio of their previous work.

How Long Does Underpinning Take To Complete?

During the underpinning process, there can sometimes be an unforeseen issue or two along the way, especially with an older house. If this is the case, it will typically add a bit of time to the project. A typical underpinning job will usually take four to six weeks to perform. However, this often doesn’t include the finishing work. Other factors that will influence the length of the job will include the specific conditions of the job and the engineering details.

For example, water lines or meters may need to be moved or installed as well as electrical panels, HVAC systems and basement stairs may need to be rebuilt or extended. Outside waterproofing is usually recommended as it offers better protection and that’s why it costs more than interior waterproofing. A backup sump pump system is also recommended for water removal in case of power failures.

Predicting the exact length of time for a basement underpinning project isn’t something that’s easy to do. For more information on underpinning jobs please feel free to contact us at your convenience at Nusite Contractors in Toronto. We’re fully experienced, licensed, certified and insured when it comes to contracting work. We’ll be able to provide you with a better estimate on the length of the job after visiting your home for a free, no-obligation inspection. In addition, we’ll take care of all of the pre-planning such as drawings and obtaining the necessary permits.

Crack in foundation floor in Toronto homeDo you have cracks in your foundation floor?

Cracks are a common feature in most homes, especially here in Toronto where you have older homes with foundations that are decades old.   There are many things that can cause cracks to appear, from poor initial workmanship, to a shifting of the foundation itself.  Cracks can be harmless or can mean serious trouble, what you need to find out is what’s causing the cracks in the first place.  Once cracks form in the foundation, water is usually soon to follow.  Many places in Toronto sit on top of high water tables, which can cause waterproofing issues in your basement.

The good news is that foundation floors are seldom structural. That’s because they are concrete poured in between foundation work. There are two reasons why cracks may develop in this. These are:

  • The earth beneath the foundation was inadequately compacted before the concrete pour, and gave a little under the extra weight, causing uneven support for the foundation.
  • The concrete cracked because that is what large concrete areas generally do as they dry out. Some builders keep concrete flooring moist for longer periods of time to avoid this.

Hence your cracked concrete basement floor is not something you need to fret about for safety’s sake but can also cause water issues. Or is it perhaps? Read on and discover things you may not know.

Gas Intrusion

Undetectable methane and radon gas accumulates in pockets underground which are seldom tested during surveys.  Sometimes a builder may disturb one and cause the gases to gradually escape. While the foundation work is supposed to keep them harmless a cracked basement floor manifestly cannot. Methane gas is violently explosive. Radon gas is the most potent cause of lung cancer after cigarettes.

Insect Infestation

Concrete floor cracks are perfect breeding places for ant and termites, from where they can fan out everywhere in your home. Tackling them upstairs is hardly the right place to start when they’re reproducing themselves constantly in the floor below. In extreme cases wide cracks can even harbor snakes. Thankfully, this is uncommon, especially here in Toronto.

Damp and Mold

There’s always moisture underground. That’s where rainwater naturally ends up, and after that can go almost anywhere. The force of gravity pressing down on the earth above makes ground water surprisingly intrusive. If you ignore non-structural floor cracks, don’t be surprised to find water bubbling up through them after heavy rain.  If your home sits on a high water table, cracks can be an open invitation for a wet basement.

This problem is especially serious in basements underground. That’s because we seldom go down there to inspect. Damp conditions below the earth’s surface are perfect conditions for moss and mold to grow. Especially if the room’s kept tightly closed, and there’s no exchange of fresh air.

Fixing Foundation Floor Cracks

Like most things in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to seal floor foundation cracks. The wrong way is to conceal the problem with surface filler. The better way is to pour in a polymer compound that forms a bond with both concrete sections. Best of all for wider cracks is to use an epoxy filler to recreate the original monolithic pour. However the stuff is expensive and you may need a concrete flooring specialist with experience and the right injection tools.

Foundation Repair Specialists in Toronto

Nusite Group has been serving Toronto for over 30 years.  We specialize in basement waterproofing and foundation repairs.  If you have any questions about foundation problems in your home and live in the Greater Toronto Area, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

Digging out a basement (also known an Underpinning or Basement Lowering) can be an ideal way to add some room or additional living space to your home and can often be less expensive than adding room by going upward or outward, which usually requires special permits and lots of red tape.   The best option can be chosen after considering a few factors such as design, feasibility, function, and the cost.

Why Underpinning is Popular in Toronto

Underpinning is a popular option for homeowners in Toronto due to high real estate prices and the fact properties tend to be on smaller lots.  Who wants to give up precious yard space to an extension?

If you intend on adding a finished basement to your dwelling you’ll also need to consider the stability and safety precautions since they’re different underground when compared to other floors of the home. And you also have to ensure that your basement is fully waterproofed and damp free before finishing your basement.

Starting Basement Dig Out Process - Underpinning

If your home already has a basement with decent ceiling height, then digging it out will be relatively inexpensive compared to starting from scratch. Once you have to start digging down several feet or lift the home to add a basement the cost will generally be comparable to adding a ground-level addition to the home. In general, a basement needs about a seven to eight-foot ceiling along with footing drains and foundation walls. If you currently have a basement with the ceiling height lower than seven feet then a digging will usually need to be done

Concrete and dirt will need to be removed when digging a few feet down and the existing concrete footings will need new ones made below them. In addition, a new concrete slab floor will need to be poured. If the home just has crawl space or the existing foundation isn’t adequate enough, then the house may need to be lifted to pour the slab and foundation walls. You’ll be able to install some form of insulation under a new concrete slab to improve the energy efficiency of the area. The new slab will enable you to place radiant heat tubes in the concrete to help heat the basement. Radiant heat could also be used for the entire home if you choose and it could result in more ceiling height if the old ductwork is removed.

Basement is Dug Out of Toronto Home

An egress, which is basically an emergency exit, should also be created. The local building codes will determine exactly where and how big the egress should be. In many cases, a large window that has a low sill is adequate since people can climb out of it of needed. A door can also be used as an egress which means a new door will need to be installed if the house sits on a sloped lot or a concrete stairwell will need to be dug. The question of connecting to the sewer line also needs to be answered when digging out a basement. If you know how deep the line is you’ll know if the basement can be drained by gravity or if water will need to be pushed upwards with a pump.


Another thing you need to consider is how much light will there be in your basement. If you’re using a window as an egress then the light will be fine in that specific area. But you may prefer adding more windows for additional light and/or a more open feeling in the room as well as glass exterior and/or interior doors. Homes with an existing basement will likely already have exterior or interior stairs for access to it. However, you typically have the option if relocating them if you choose as you may be able to free up some extra space by doing so.

Framing of Basement in Toronto After Being Dug Out

If digging out the basement sounds like the ideal way to add living space to your home, it’s imperative that the area is dry. Some basements have a history of flooding or being wet and damp and this would need to be resolved first. For instance, two inches of rain running off the roof of a 2,000 square-foot house can produce more than 2,000 gallons of water. To help solve flooding in a basement, it’s important there are no cracks in the foundation, the gutters aren’t clogged, and the ground doesn’t slope towards the home.

Finishing a walkout basement in Toronto

There are several solutions to a wet basement such as excavating around the home’s perimeter as well as installing drains along the inside of basement walls. For more information and advice on Underpinning your basement  please feel free to contact our team of foundation-repair professionals at Nusite Contractors for a free inspection and written estimate. Our work is fully certified, insured, and guaranteed as well as made to last.  We serve Toronto and the surrounding GTA.

As a homeowner, seeing a crack in your foundation can certainly be cause for concern. Here in Toronto, the harsh Winters and rainy Springs and Summers can cause havoc on our home’s foundation.  Even if it hasn’t happened to you, many of us have heard horror stories of water damage and shifting foundations that can cost a pretty penny to repair. The last thing any homeowner wants to see is a crack running along their foundation.  So, how can you tell if the small crack you discovered signifies a much larger problem? Read on to find out.

What Different Types of Cracks Can Signify

There are several different types of basement cracks that commonly occur within the foundation of a home, each of which can signify a different problem:

  • Horizontal Cracks – A crack in your wall that extends horizontally, or looks like a stairstep, commonly signifies a more serious problem for homeowners. These cracks leave your foundation susceptible to lateral pressure and with the natural expansion of the ground around your foundation, with moisture, it can actually cause your wall to bow around the crack. A horizontal crack can eventually lead to the entire failure and snapping of the foundation walls if not cared for appropriately. This type of crack cannot be fixed by simply filling it, it will require professional attention by an experienced foundation repair company to truly repair.
Horizontal crack in Toronto foundation home

Horizontal Crack in Foundation in Toronto Home

  • Vertical Cracks – As concrete and the foundation of your home settle it can cause vertical cracks to occur throughout your foundation. These cracks are quite common and can be easily repaired by filling the crack with filler materials to prevent further spreading.  While vertical cracks can potentially be a sing of something serious, most often it is due to natural settling of your home’s foundation.  If you see new vertical cracks appearing in your foundation, it is best to contact a foundation repair company to take a look at it.
Toronto home with vertical crack in foundation

Toronto home with vertical crack in foundation

  • Diagonal Cracks – A diagonal crack is typically an indication of a fracture that has spread over time, so a simple filling might not fix it permanently. It is a good idea to get these types of cracks stabilized and reinforced by professionals so that further spreading does not occur.

    Toronto home with a horizontal foundation crack

    Toronto home with a horizontal foundation crack

Depending on the types of cracks that you are noticing within your foundation, you can better determine the next step that you need to take to protect your investment.

Even Minor Cracks Need to Be Monitored

Even if you have a vertical crack, you want to be sure that you monitor all cracks regularly. Expansion, bowing of walls and leaks can only cause more damage to your home and cost you more money. If water is leaking into your basement from the foundation crack it is important to get it fixed.  Water can erode the foundation over time and turn a relatively minor repair into a major repair job later on.  A great way to monitor your cracks is to use a pencil to mark the ends of a crack with the date reviewed. A few months later you can return to the crack and see if it has changed or expanded. If you notice an expansion then perhaps it is a good idea to seek professional assistance to ensure that you home is not in danger.

When to Get a Foundation Professional Involved

If you notice that a crack in your foundation has seemed to worsen, or you have a horizontal or diagonal crack, then you are going to want to consider bringing in a  professional. A contracting company that specializes in foundation repairs can give you an assessment of whether it’s a minor problem or a more serious matter.  If it’s a very serious problem, a structural engineer will likely be recommended to assess the foundation.

Your home is your sanctuary and an investment that should be protected, don’t let a little foundation crack threaten your home and family.


Have questions about cracks in your foundation?  If you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA, we at Nusite Group offers a free in-home inspection and assessment of your foundation cracks. We have been serving Toronto for over 30 years and are experts in foundation repairs.   You can contact us here for more information.

Coming up with an average cost for foundation repair work can be quite difficult since there are so many factors that need to be considered. It all depends on the extent of work that needs to be done, as well as the type of foundation, the soil, the repair method used, your location, accessibility and the time and labour involved. For instance, a minor job could cost as little as a few hundred dollars while major repair work may run as high as tens of thousands.

Here in Toronto, we repair all types of foundations.  Some are easy fixes, while others can be quite the engineering challenge.

Costs For Foundation Repairs

Some other foundation repair costs that need to be considered include hiring a structural engineer, obtaining soil reports and building permits, seismic work, slabjacking and pier costs. There could also be a few hidden obstacles in the way such as deep footings, old repairs, and tree roots etc. If you require foundation work on your property due to flooding or faulty plumbing, be sure to contact your insurance company to see what is and what isn’t covered under your policy.

When purchasing a new home, it’s recommended that you hire a home inspector to see if there are any problems that need to be dealt with. If there are, you can simply walk away from the deal. However, if you already own the home and a problem arises you’ll need to repair it. When you come across a foundation issue it’s certainly better to rectify it sooner rather than later so it doesn’t become worse, unsafe and lead to irreparable damage.

In some cases, major repairs which need the use of hydraulic piers may cost an average of $10,000 or more, while minor cracks that only require crack filler may be fixed for an average of $500. However, the average repair often comes somewhere between the two prices. Two of the most common methods for foundation problems involve piering or slabjacking. When piering is used it means supports are placed underground to support and lift the concrete. This means the contractor needs to dig several feet down to make sure the pier is solidified. It’s then placed beneath the foundation and operated with hydraulics as it lifts foundation to where it should be and stabilizes it. Several piers are used and located at different locations under the home’s foundation.

When it comes to slabjacking, a mixture of grout is placed beneath the concrete foundation and it floats the foundation to where it should be. In general, the piering method is usually the most costly since excavation is required and the hydraulic piers have to be installed. For more detailed information on foundation repairs and a free, thorough no-obligation estimate, please contact us at Nusite Waterproofing at your convenience.

Get Estimates On Foundation Repairs

At Nusite, we’ll help to estimate the cost of foundation repairs by consulting with you and providing you with a free inspection and estimate of work. Once we’ve discovered the cause of the problem we can decide on the best method to repair it and evaluate with you the costs involved with the project. Just remember, that you shouldn’t consider any estimate if the company you contact doesn’t visit your home and inspect the property first. It’s also recommended that you contact more than one contractor for an estimate.

In addition, don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have concerning the work. You may be interested in the method of repair used, if there are any financial payment options, how long the job will take, is the work guaranteed and if there are any hidden repair costs etc. At Nusite, we’re more than happy to give you as much information as possible regarding the repairs and aim at meeting the estimate. Since foundation settlement may result in major structural damage, we make sure our estimates are as accurate as can be, so you can decide whether or not you want to start the repair work right away.


Nusite Group has been repairing foundations in Toronto for over 30 years.  We offer a free, in-home consultation and estimate and can provide you with a solution that you are comfortable with.  Contact us today for a free estimate.