Home & Garden

Ask Angie: Can I dig a basement under an existing house?

Adding a basement to your home requires digging out the soil around the house. Overall, it’s a complicated and expensive construction process that requires the help of a structural engineer.
Adding a basement to your home requires digging out the soil around the house. Overall, it’s a complicated and expensive construction process that requires the help of a structural engineer. TNS

Q: Is it feasible to dig a new basement under an existing two-story home? If so, what might it cost?

A: Basement refinishing and remodeling projects are fairly common, but building a new basement from scratch is quite a different kind of job.

It can be done, but the feasibility depends on how much of your new basement would be below ground and, truthfully, how much money you’re willing to spend.

What Would a New Basement Cost?

If you want a completely below-ground basement, then even under the best of circumstances the project will run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

You may not be able to recoup that cost when you sell your home, though, because adding a basement does not necessarily add more living square footage. An exception could be a walk-out basement, which is an option if your home is on a hillside or slope.

You could talk to a local real estate agent to find out what this project would mean to your home’s overall value.

Options Beyond a New Basement

Before embarking on a major project – and this certainly qualifies as one – it’s important to be clear about how you plan to use the new space.

If you need extra storage, adding a backyard storage unit or expanding your attic might be practical as well as less expensive.

If you dream of more livable space, consider expanding your house upward or adding to the first floor.

New Basement Requires Structural Engineer

If you choose to proceed with adding a basement, you’ll need the help of many building professionals, including construction contractors, plumbers, electricians and most definitely a structural engineer.

This is one reason why the project would be so expensive. But that’s understandable, because your entire house, quite literally, will be riding on the work these pros do. Be sure to hire experienced service providers who have positive consumer reviews on a trusted site and who are appropriately licensed, insured and bonded. Confirm that they’re familiar with local regulations that might impact the project, and that they’re prepared to pull any required permits.

Send questions to askangie@angieslist.com or tweet with #AskAngie. Follow her @Angie–Hicks.

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