Underpinning

There are many benefits to underpinning your foundation. For example, if your foundation is failing, this process can be used to strengthen and/or repair it. Underpinning can also be used to increase the depth of your basement, adding more space to your home. During the underpinning process, it also opens up the hidden mechanics of the home and makes them accessible for inspection, correction and improvement. This article expands on all of these benefits and more.

What considerations come into play to decide that your home’s foundation can benefit from the construction process of underpinning? It is either necessary to stabilize structural problems that have developed or it is desirable to meet a whole wish list of living space and economic requirements.

Foundation wall underpinning becomes a necessity when the existing foundation is shifting so dramatically and substantially that it is unable to safely support the house above it. In some cases, the original supporting construction was inadequate for the area climate, soil conditions or types. All or part of the original foundation rested on marginal land with a bearing capacity insufficient to hold up the building. In other cases, interference with the structural integrity of the foundation by people that tried to do it themselves and created the damage. Early warning signs include changes in the shape of walls, sinking, bulging or sagging, structural cracks, and discrepancies in the alignment of windows and doors. In all instances of underpinning necessity, professional assessment and design are required and the work must be done promptly before further damage or loss of investment can occur. Underpinning the foundation walls in all these cases stabilizes the home and gives increased strength to the building.

Now let’s talk about other reasons to underpin your foundation. First, the process of underpinning the foundation opens up the hidden mechanics of the home and makes them accessible for inspection, correction and improvement. As underpinning is usually undertaken in older homes, older household plumbing, electrical and insulation systems can be replaced or upgraded with modern technologies. All these can be brought up to Building Code and the most contemporary standards. Changes will have to be made to the waterproofing systems along with the underpinning so the life of the usable, dry space will be enhanced. Overall, you will see long term savings in energy, safety and comfort of the entire house. You also gain the benefits accruing to the necessity underpinning, namely, stabilization, improved strength and increased value.

Second, foundation underpinning dramatically alters the usability of the below ground space, up to fifty percent of the available room in your home. The vast majority of basements were originally conceived as a location for household mechanics.  Later, as laundry rooms, kids play rooms, and recreation rooms. Because of this, ceiling height and lights arose as concerns. These obstacles are removed by the engineered solution of underpinning. Greater headroom makes the space attractive to be in for a longer period of time as you don’t get that cramped, boxed in feeling.  Modern recessed lighting can be introduced to enhance attractiveness. In the process of opening up the basement for underpinning, unnecessary walls may be eliminated and bearing walls supported in different ways so that the basement is no longer a bunch of small dark rooms but can be open space for any function needed.

Successful underpinning requires proper design and proper installation of materials. Always be sure to call a qualified and licensed contractor who will be able to explain your options as well as explain the process. All in all, it is clear that whether your plans arise from necessity or adding more livable space, underpinning the foundation walls of your basement enhances the value of your home for yourself and future buyers.

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