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Underpinning Your Toronto Basement & Everything You Need to Know

You’ve read about all the great renovation and finishing ideas for your basement, but there’s just one problem: the height. If you’re in an older home, the basement was likely built only for storage and the ceiling height is only six feet or so. Renovating your Toronto basement to add living space to your home wouldn’t be ideal at this height, so you’ll want to add a few more feet, you'll typically end up with 8 to 10 feet. How? Underpinning is the best method for accomplishing higher ceilings in your basement and it’s done by actually lowering the floor. 

underpinned basement with storage compartments under stairs and 10 foot ceilings (1)

What is Underpinning?

Underpinning your basement is the process of excavating the ground beneath by first removing the foundation in sections and reinforcing it. Underpinning is a meticulous process, but by the end, you’ll have a space with enough height for any type of arrangement. 

Your contractor will create additional footings using concrete beneath the original walls in sections. After the footings are all in place and cured, a new and lower floor will be poured. The process is lengthy but it’s done incrementally to keep your home safe from structural damage. 

The result is higher ceilings and liveable space. After the basement is finished, you’ll have a space that’s ready for finishes and, finally furnishings. Welcome to your new basement that’s full of possibilities. 

How Much Does Underpinning Cost in Toronto?

Underpinning is quite a home improvement project and can result in a major increase in livable square footage. You can expect the process to cost anywhere from $40K to $80K. The cost will continue to increase if you also want to update other systems, like plumbing and electrical. This estimate does not include walling up your space, laying flooring, or any other finishes you’ll need to make it a usable space beyond storage. 

basement renovation with tall ceilings couch in toronto

Benefits of Underpinning your Basement

If you underpin your basement, this allows you to keep the original square footage. An additional bonus that’s also quite important for older homes, is the increase in structural integrity. If your foundation was settling unevenly, underpinning also works to create a stronger foundation. What are the other benefits of underpinning your home?

Add Liveable Area Without Increasing Square Footage

One of the main benefits of underpinning is that you're able to add more liveable area to your home without the need to add any square footage to your home. Since the majority of lots are small in Toronto, whenever you want to add an addition to your home, you need to go through the Committee of Adjustments. If you underpin your basement, you're able to add 50% more liveable home area, and you avoid needing to deal with getting zoning approvals and the Committee of Adjustments.

Opportunity to Update Other Elements of Your Home

Your construction team will have full access to your plumbing and electrical systems. If your home is older, this is also a great opportunity to update those systems, helping your home last longer without these types of repairs coming up sooner than later. Your basement’s waterproofing can also be improved, making it ready for your renovation team to begin adding walls, a ceiling, flooring, and more. 

Remove Walls

While underpinning your basement, the construction team can also use steel beams to reinforce the first floor and remove load-bearing walls in the basement to suit the design goals you have in mind for the finished space. 

Shore up the Original Foundation

As already mentioned, your older home may have suffered uneven settling over the years. Underpinning can correct this and reinforce the correction. Your home will be in better condition for you or any future owners of your home. 

It’s a Better Option Than an Addition

While underpinning isn’t inexpensive per se, it is less costly than creating an addition elsewhere in your home. Plus, you won’t have to lose yard space to add square footage. You’ll be using the space your home already occupies.

basement with colourful mats in 10 foot ceilings in toronto because of underpinning

Underpinning Is a Job for the Professionals 

Underpinning is a very common aspect of a whole home renovation. Here at SevernWoods Fine Homes, nearly every home renovation we work on requires underpinning the basement. It’s important that your home’s structural integrity not be compromised, so hire a qualified home professional to do the job right. Your home is important, and your custom builder should treat it like their own. SevernWoods is a custom home builder and renovator in Toronto that understands the importance of getting every step of the process right to deliver a perfect product.

Some companies just do underpinning and may fix up your basement, however, we specialize in whole home renovations and underpinning is only a small aspect of the project. Contact SevernWoods to discuss adding height and a more comfortable living area to your basement and home today. 

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