diy basement project

Old 02-23-04, 07:48 PM
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I'm almost done :) (long winded)

I have read almost every post in this forum since i started my basement project, and have picked up a few ideas along the way.

I see similar questions asked here quite repetetivly, so i thought i'd contribute my experiences.


My house was built in the late 50's on a crawlspace, on cedar posts. The house is approx 800 sq feet.After buying the house, i noticed that it was shifting around a lot during the winter months
Subsequent investigation revealed that all of the posts were totally rotted away. My house was on the verge of collapse.

So i called some contractors, and inquired about lifting the house and constructing a new concrete foundation. I was blown away by the cost. $7500 to lift and excavate, and $15000 to for footings and 5' concrete walls. I would then need to build my own 3' pony wall (cripple wall?). I only had about $12000 in the bank, so that wasn't an option. I decided to do it myself. I had the summer off anyway, due to a back injury, and i needed excercise to help it heal.

I bought $300 worth of railway ties, and borrowed a bunch of 8" I-beam from a scrapyard (i had to weld several pieces together), and borrowed as many 20 ton jacks as i could. With the ties cut in half, i began to assemble the cribs, 4 of them each 4 feet square. Luckily the windows in the skirting lined up with my cribbs, so sliding the beams in was only a two man job. Once that was done, i lifted the house with 4, 20 ton jacks a few inches. We then started demolision work. We ripped the skirting off, and removed as many posts and rotten wood as we could. Once the skirting was off, i had the gas service disconnected, and the furnace and hot water tank were removed. The brick chimeny was then demolished, and the hole it left in the roof was patched.

Cost so far:

$300 for ties
$300 for beer
$100 for a dumpster
$500 for misc stuff(this is the stuff that adds up)

Then we went and picked up the excavater, we used a Thomas T25 track hoe. It was able to do a great job digging through the compacted clay. My friend Pat Carruthers, who is by far the best hoe operator i have ever seen , Did all the hoe work on this job, as well as most of the hard labor. I was lucky that i had a friend who was off work all summer and available to help me for 12 hours a day all summer. Anyways, it took 24 hours machine time to dig, with a lot of heavy hand work left over. I hired a few kids to help for the hand work.


$900 machine rental
$300 labour
$300 beer
$200 shovels (clays breaks shovels)

The next week was spent digging for the footings. The clay here is really hard, so the hand digging was tough.
We had the footings poured 2 weeks after the project was started. I went with 26" x 8" footings wich exceeded the code specs which call for 16" x 8" footings. I then ordered 1400 blocks along with all the sand and mortar.


$800 footings
$300 rebar
$3500 block, sand, mortar, parging mortar etc.

The pics here kind of explain the rest:

It took a month and a half for the blocks to get laid, mostly due to bad weather. But its now done. I did an addition on the back to relace the porch that was there before. There was no way to support the old porch when i lifted the house, so i tore it off.

I'm now finishing the basement interior with a rec room, bathroom and sauna. Might frame in an office too. Pics soon.

I'll update this post later with more, and i'll updat my site with more pics soon. If anyone has any questions, please ask. I'd like the opourtunity to share what i have learned.

Last edited by Sharp Advice; 02-24-04 at 07:21 AM.
Old 02-29-04, 06:10 PM
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i added some more newer pics of the inside framing and insulating here:
Old 03-01-04, 05:19 AM
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Awesome job. It takes balls to round up a load of jacks and raise a house like that. Came out great.

Also reminds me that I haven't put together a beer budget for my project :-)
Old 03-01-04, 06:18 AM
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thanks man

I don't know about balls, but all my neighbours thought i was crazy.

Lifting the house was actually the easiest part of the entire job. Actual time spent lifting the house was maybe a few days. I ended up lifting the house 36" total, and then lowered it 6" onto the new walls. The finished ceiling height will be right around 7'6". I lifted the house over the course of a month, the time it took to lay all the block.

I saw a few questions on here about building basements under existing houses, and i just wanted to show that it could be done, if you have the time and energy.
Old 03-01-04, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Israel
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Very cool project, man. Cool dog too. I liked the pictures. I guess there are benefits for bad-backs, too. You did all.

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