Basement Excavation

While the names may differ, the principles underlying basement excavation are much the same (nearly identical, in fact) to those governing proper cellar excavation. That actually makes things much easier, as estimating time, cost, and the like is pretty easy - just look at what it would cost to build a cellar of similar size!

First, it is definitely recommended that you begin the process of basement excavation before you build the house itself. After all, it's one thing to remodel a basement after your home has been built, but it is quite another to try to build a basement under an already completed house. It is, in fact, almost impossible (unless you are some sort of strange mole-like creature).

How you carry out your basement excavation is very important. An excavation contractor can help you here, but if you choose to go ahead without one, there are some things you should know. First of all, you need to make sure the excavation site is made deep enough to accommodate the finished basement, including all heating, water, and electrical components. As with cellars, the normal depth for basement excavation when dealing with residences is eight feet or more from the underside of the beams supporting the first floor. The depth should be increased if the house is to be heated by a furnace, to make sure that there will be a proper fit for all pipes and conduits, as well as for the sake of overall safety. For commercial or non-residential buildings, like stores or offices, the depth is typically at least 25 feet, but it can vary according to the nature of the building, as well as the requirements of the occupants using the structure. In some larger structures, there may be multiple basements and sub-basements extending to depths as great as 60 feet (3 stories) or more.

In addition to making sure the depth is correct, attention should also be paid to what sort of climate your area of residence experiences. If you live in an area where it can get cold in the wintertime, you should make sure your basement excavation starts below the frost line. If you don't, the repeated fluctuations in soil temperature from cold outside and heated internal areas can destroy your basement. It can even affect the structural integrity of the rest of your home - attention to detail is a must!

Also, if you're completing a basement excavation project where the weight of the resulting structure (house + basement, or commercial business + basement(s)) is so great that weight-bearing pilings must be used, the depth should be approximately equivalent to that of the waterline to prevent decay of the pilings, which would result in an eventual collapse of your structure(s). Safety first!

There are many other factors to be considered in a basement excavation, including time, cost, and what to do with all that dirt! However, those can be best answered by an excavation contractor, rather than in this article. It is in your best interest to contact them at your earliest opportunity to discuss your project needs and goals.

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