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Guide to Basement Underpinning

Basement underpinning has become a trending practice in the construction and renovation industries. Many homes and building owners in Toronto opt for this complex solution to secure their foundation or expand their space to include spare bedrooms, home offices, or even potential rental spaces.

Unfortunately, the term is still relatively unknown among Torontonian homeowners, contractors, and businesses.

What is Basement Underpinning?

Basement underpinning is the process of lowering a basement and extending its vertical space. Experienced engineering experts and dedicated technicians carefully orchestrate this complex restructuring process.

Underpinning involves digging a series of holes below the foundation and excavating the dirt from the property, followed by powering new concrete footers to re-stabilize the structure.

Why is Basement Underpinning Performed?

Basement underpinning is performed for two core purposes:

  • Creating Additional Space
  • Improved Structural Integrity

Additional Space

Basements in most traditional homes and residential buildings are typically used for housing electrical, plumbing, and other systems, and as the last frontier for storage or laundry.

However, over the past few decades, basements have become more sophisticated feats of architecture. As a result, many owners opt for this basement-lowering process to increase headroom and expand their living space.

This process serves as a budget-friendly alternative to adding another floor, a smart solution to zoning issues, and an excellent way to avoid sacrificing garden or backyard space. Moreover, underpinning allows for the removal or concealing of wiring, plumbing, column posts, and other structures while adding more space for doors, windows, or stairs. Thus, it is easier to build additional rooms such as:

  • Home office
  • Game room
  • Extra bedroom
  • Library
  • Organized storage
  • Gym
  • Wine cellar
  • Rental space
  • Home theatre, etc.

Improved Structural Integrity

The primary purpose of the basement underpinning process is to improve a property’s structural integrity. Whether it’s due to improper construction, natural/man-made disasters, or the wear and tear of age, underpinning can reverse this damage and provide structural soundness to the property.

Underpinning can also improve property value, as the foundation is the most important thing potential buyers check on when evaluating their options. Moreover, underpinning can provide better structural support for floor additions.

The Underpinning Process

The following is a brief overview of a typical basement underpinning project:

1. Project Brief

Every underpinning project begins with a conversation between the client (homeowner, contractor, etc.) and the underpinning company or specialists. During this initial brief, they discuss the core purpose of the project and its scope.

For instance, many homeowners are looking to repair their foundations and improve their property’s resale value. Meanwhile, others are looking to increase their living space and add additional rooms.

Using the brief created, the provider estimates the timeline and overall costs.

Note: Most underpinning contractors won’t provide a quote for the job without visiting your property and assessing the soil conditions. The soil condition helps determine the underpinning depth.

2. Drawings and Permits

Basement underpinning projects in Toronto require permits and fully dimensioned structural drawings on standardized sheets, drawn to scale and signed and dated by a licensed structural engineer.

Following the brief, your underpinning specialist will visit your property with an engineer to familiarize themselves with the structure and craft a plan based on your specific needs.

They will gather all the required information for the permit application, including the site plan, basement plan, floor plan, sections, etc.

Note: Many companies in Ontario try to bend the rules to save a few thousand dollars. However, working without a permit can lead to project shutdowns by the Ministry of Labor and heavy fines. Therefore, owners should never opt for an underpinning company that proposes illegal structural work.

3. Site Preparation

Next, the team prepares the site for the underpinning process by setting up restricted areas. They also support and protect vulnerable or exposed areas that could get damaged from the process.

Once the site is ready, they can set up their equipment and begin.

4. Construction

Once your underpinning contractor has everything ready – permit, engineering plan, resources, etc. –technicians remove the basement’s concrete floor to access the soil beneath.

Next, they excavate the soil to a proper elevation and dig out the pins that will support the footing in gradual stages to ensure stability at all times. If the underpinning requires new posts for beams or columns, the technicians will set up temporary jacks to hold the beam while they install the footings.

Once this process is complete, they will re-install the plumbing and drainage system before pouring concrete to form the new floor base.

5. Finishing

Once the underpinning process is complete, your technicians can conclude the project there, or proceed with other objectives of the project, such as installing wooden floors, doors, windows, and other structures for an additional room.

Contact a Basement Underpinning Contractor

If you’re looking to add more square feet to your home through basement underpinning, you will need the help of experts who specialize in this sensitive construction technique.

At MAGCOR, we have the expertise, experience, and resources needed to carry out this complicated process seamlessly and cost-effectively. Since our foundation, we’ve built a solid reputation for quality craftsmanship, an excellent safety record, and a streamlined work processes.

You can put your trust in us and join our extensive list of satisfied homeowners, renovators, businesses, and contractors. Gget in touch with our award-winning team of underpinning specialists at (416) 887-8833 or info@magcor.ca and let us take care of everything.

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