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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Question Basement excavation in southeastern MA: Who can I trust to do the job?

    We have a 1930 cape, and with a fourth child on the way, we need a bit more space. We'd like to finish our basement, at least partially, but have only 6' 8" clearance. Plus, the floor was done poorly (easily discernable sections poured; uneven). How do we know if we can dig down? How far down can we go, and how do we find a good contractor for the job?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Default Re: Basement excavation in southeastern MA: Who can I trust to do the job?

    How do you find a reliable excavation contractor? the same way you find any other contractor.

    The best ways are:
    - word of mouth.
    - recommendations from friends, neighbors, family.
    - asking for references and checking them for truthfulness.

    How do you find how deep you can dig? by visiting your local building department office.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Basement excavation in southeastern MA: Who can I trust to do the job?

    IIRC, 7' is the minimum allowable ceiling height for occupied areas (check local codes) but since you're digging anyway you'll want more than that. One issue you may run into is the footing level. You cannot dig below the top of the footing unless you create a retainer to prevent caving in of the soil under the foundation. You may be able to determine this from the outside of the house with a probe rod but if it's high enough you'll find it demoing the existing floor and excavating it. Also keep in mind that basements may not be legal for an occupied room where you are. If it is allowed you will still need to provide 2 separate means of egress in case of emergency.

    Not to discourage you here- this is a great idea so long as you're aware of the possible issues and their costs to mitigate. I have always felt that crawlspaces were a waste of easily-created floorspace in new construction homes where you may already be halfway to a basement if the house is sited on a hill as many are where I live. Just a couple more hours with the backhoe that is already digging the footing, a fair amount of more concrete to create a slab-type foundation, several more courses of foundation block, and then all the major elements are there for another room or three, either now or later as you please. Increased construction cost is usually about 1/3 to 1/2 what you pay for equal floorspace above- a real bargain! I can't understand why more people don't do this.


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