Digging basements under a house

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Joshie, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. Joshie

    Joshie Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 7, 2008
    Anybody know how expensive something like this is? We have a crawl space. We'd planned to add onto the house when we moved here but due to my health problems we cannot afford to do so. We have a crawl space and a 1200 sq ft house. Adding more space would really be wonderful.

    I know that my grandparents dug a basement under their house. Just wondering if anyone has an idea of how expensive this is. Our house was moved to this site a couple of years ago. Why the dope who moved it here didn't put a basement under it I'll never know.

    I know I'm dreaming but....
  2. English Oliver

    English Oliver Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2008
    Southern Indiana
    I have a 1500 sq ft home with a crawl space and I have a quote of $14,000 to dig a basement under it and pour the walls. this would be a walk out basement open on one side. I don't know if this is high or low, it is the only quote I have gotten. We had a 700 sq ft cabin w/crawl about 15 years ago and I dug the basement with a shovel, and poured the walls and floor. The cabin was on a river bank and impossible to get equipment under it, that and I was 15 years younger.


  3. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004
    Be sure you are not sitting on water logged ground or other 'issues' making a basement difficult. Please please please set in drainage around even if you don't need it. The couple 100 bucks extra now is so very, very much money well spent!

    One needs to shore up the house so it doesn't cave in as you dig. Can be expensive to jack up & brace, or can lose space if you dig out less than full dimentions and hope the remaining dirt holds up until you get footer & interior walls set up to keep the original foundation stable....

    Then one needs to dig under the house in cramped quarters. Can go fast & expensive with hiring people with the low-height powered equipment; or can go cheap & slow with you doing the work with a shovel & 5 gallon buckets.

    Sounds like you may have troubles spending the big bucks, and perhaps not able to do the back-breaking work for cheap.

    Codes & safety laws in your location might have something to say about you digging your own out with 5 gallon buckets, or doing the stepped-in type of inner walls....

    Just laying out the 2 different options of getting there from here. :)

  4. FarmboyBill

    FarmboyBill Well-Known Member Supporter

    Aug 19, 2005
    --Me and my brother dug out our basement in one summer. Dad helped on weekends. We were either in or just out of grade school. Dad bought a horse named Beauty, and we hooked her to a slip and after awhile, she would go out and stop where she thought we wanted her to, We would flip the slip and walk back to the celler. She would go on further out, make a turn then come back and under the house. Mighta took 2 summers. Dad built the sides out of block. and poured the floor by hand.
  5. fishhead

    fishhead Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jul 19, 2006
    northcentral MN
    We dug a basement under an oil pumping station by hand on one job I had. We used conveyor belts to lift the gravel from under the building. Seven days a week 10 hours a day.

    I wonder if it might be faster and even cheaper to move the house and have the basement built normally then move the house back?
  6. Karenrbw

    Karenrbw Well-Known Member Supporter

    Aug 17, 2004
    I know a family with numerous children. They sent the kids under the house with 5 gallon buckets and shovels and they dug their own basement. Of course, this was 25 years ago. Probably illegal now.
  7. ronbre

    ronbre Brenda Groth Supporter

    Apr 26, 2009
    costs would depend a lot on what is there now and how strong it is, what the soil is like, who is digging and with what, and how the basement would be formed..
  8. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    East TN
    The "dope" might have known something you don't. I would do a lot of checking before digging. Sure seems like a lot of work and expense.
  9. dragonjaze

    dragonjaze hating the 'burbs! Supporter

    Sep 8, 2010
    N. IL, wishing I was in W WA
    I had no idea that putting a basement under an existing house was even possible!

    Learn summat new every day
  10. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 4, 2005
    first of all one had better look in to the construction of the house and see if the support is such that one can do it with reasonable rooms in the basement,

    there are two basic ways of doing it, one is to put up temporary supports and put to rebuild the foundation wall with a full basement wall, the second way is to off set the basement wall about 3 foot from the foundation wall, and build up a short retaining wall to support the foundation, built it the depth you want the basement,
    and then finish digging out the rest of the dirt, (the draw back of this is the lost space from having to step out the retaining wall to support the foundation wall that is currently existing.

    using a bob cat type loader many help, in the dirt removal

    many U tubes on people doing it,

    some actually find the job (do to the hand labor involved), may be easer/cheaper to move the house a side or put the basement in and move the house over on it,
  11. Harry Chickpea

    Harry Chickpea Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 19, 2008
    north Alabama
    My brother and I dug out under a 16' x 22' addition one summer. Took us over two weeks of using a mattock and shovel to chop away at blue clay. We had to leave the step backs at the footings for safety, and when the concrete was poured there was a 3' deep bench all the way around. It was OK for storage, but I wasn't overly impressed.

    I agree that in doing a whole house, it is likely easier, cheaper, and safer to move the house onto a basement in the back yard than try to build one under the house.
  12. Common Tator

    Common Tator Uber Tuber

    Feb 19, 2008
    Southern Taxifornia
    I am watching this thread with great interest. Basements are practically unheard of in California. Most homes that were built in the 60's or later have concrete slabs (like our house in the burbs, and most that were built earlier on a crawl space. Our house at the ranch was dug into a hillside on a crawl space. It sits below the driveway, so that someone standing on the driveway can look into the house and see all through it if bedroom and bathroom doors are open. It has the tiniest closets I have ever seen. It was built as a summer cabin only.

    I want to have it raised to sit a little higher than the driveway, and build a basement over it. Maybe we should have the basement built beside it and have it raised and moved onto the basement. I have a contractor friend that is familiar with the place offer an opinion.