Cellar Excavation

So, the time has come for you to put in a cellar, and you're utterly stymied as to where you should begin. It's understandable… digging a hole under your house without knowing exactly what you're doing is dangerous and foolish. Luckily, cellar excavation doesn't have to be a cause for distress.

First, it is always advisable to begin the cellar excavation process before you build the house itself. Everything is just easier that way - you can build up, and the problems present in trying to build a cellar after the home itself has been constructed. However, if you DO choose to build a cellar onto an existing structure, you will need to slightly offset it - building directly under your house is an impossibility.

Regardless of WHEN the cellar is put in, HOW it is put in is of great importance. First, you need to make sure the cellar is the proper depth. The usual depth of cellars for residential homes 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, for the sake of proper fit for all pipes and conduits, as well as for 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 cellars 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 weather conditions. If you live in an area where it can get cold in the wintertime, you should make sure your cellar excavation starts below the frost line. If you don't, the repeated fluctuations in soil temperature can destroy your cellar. It can even affect the rest of your home - make sure you know what you're doing!

Also, if you're completing a cellar excavation project where the weight of the resulting structure 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 and eventual collapse of your structure(s).

There are many other factors to consider in a cellar 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.

Back to Top