Can I Add a New Basement To My Home?

Conversations with Your Local Contractor:  Can I Add a New Basement To My Home?

Dear Jim: Now that we are working from home full time, and one of our adult children is moving back in after college, we are considering digging out our basement for more space. Is this a good option for our particular home?

With the new post pandemic work at home reality, coupled with the explosion in home values, our company has seen a marked increase in requests for basement projects in the past few years. These jobs are proving to be great solutions to create new space but there are several things to consider before turning this dream into a reality.

Is This My Best Option for Creating New Space?

Most homeowners have three possibilities to add new living space, each with advantages and disadvantages. A new addition behind your home is the simple, more affordable approach, but requires sufficient space to do it, limited by an (average) allowed lot coverage of less than 50% and property line setbacks. A second-floor addition will add possible warmth, light, and views, but will likely require structural work below, neighbor buy-in and is pricier. A new basement offers cooler living space and is easiest to permit. However, potential lack of views, windows and light need to be considered.

12’ tall ceilings on this project required significant rebar and waterproofing.
12’ tall ceilings on this project required significant rebar and waterproofing.

Basement Renovations Can Require Work You May Not Expect.

Basement jobs typically consist of three elements-the structural work and dig out, the remodel, and what I call the infrastructure project. New foundations, drainage and digging down to create an 8’ ceiling are basics considerations. Then, often a substantial portion of the utilities need to be upgraded since they are outdated, insufficient for the increased space and need to be placed in a centralized location to accommodate the new floor plan. If you have an old foundation, drainage and seismic issues, plus outdated utilities, this may be the perfect fit.

Excavation alone can go on for a month or more on bigger jobs.
Excavation alone can go on for a month or more on bigger jobs.

Are There Limitations on What New Spaces I Can Add?

Access and windows are often the two most important things to consider. Depending on the slope of your property the location and size of windows can be limited. If you are looking for internal access you will need to carve out the space upstairs to add a stairway- otherwise you would be limited to an outside entrance. For added bedroom spaces you will need enough height for an egress window (usually around 4’ minimum), so that may be a consideration.

Conversations with Your Local Contractor is a feature by Jim Gardner of Jim Gardner Construction Inc. (with articles finessed by Lisa Gardner).  If you have residential, homeowner questions OR ideas for an article you’d like Jim to highlight, please send an email to

Jim is a long-time Piedmont resident and has been doing structural repair and basement renovation in your neighborhood since 1983.  To schedule an estimate or for more information please go to our website at

Jim Gardner Construction

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