Yes, there's an easy way to excavate basement floors, but they
no longer sell dynamite at hardware stores.
This isn't a technically
difficult task, but there is LOTS of labor. The floor needs to
be cut around the perimeter, then cut or broken into chunks
and hauled out. One square foot of concrete at the usual 4
inch thickness will weigh about 45 pounds. Multiply that by
the square footage of your basement (1,000 square feet would
be common) and you have over 22 TONS of rock to haul out of
the basement and put somewhere. WHERE? Your flower beds? You
could make a nice retaining wall from broken concrete, if
you're creative. Getting this hauled away could cost several
hundred dollars in most locales.
Just when your muscles are
aching, the hard work begins. You get to dig out the soil.
This would take some time and a lot of effort. You might
choose to make this your new exercise plan, and do an hour of
digging and hauling every day after work. You'd be
surprised... in a few months you'll have it excavated. But you
need to make sure you don't undermine the footings, which
shouldn't be a big problem if you are only excavating a foot
Then you have to pour a new
slab. That's a lot of hard labor too. Do you have 4 to 6
strong friends or relatives that owe you money? That's
about the only way to get anybody to do this work... cajoling!
There may be ways to do this
with heavy equipment, such as a small Bobcat loader. You can
rent those things for under $200 a day in most areas, but
you'll need to excavate a ramp to get into the basement, plus
cut a hole in the basement wall to get the machine in there.
And build a suitable beam/header over the opening you cut.
This is getting complicated, isn't it?
What I would be considering,
because I have this low-grade engineering degree, is raising
the house a foot or so to give you the extra headroom. The
extension to the basement walls does not need to be concrete,
it can be framed with some serious wood, such as 2x8's spaced
16" on center. You could just do solid wood if the height
wasn't too much. Now, house raising isn't a topic I'm going to
get into here. Yes, I've discussed some simple topics such as
leveling sagging floors with a few readers, but raising an
entire house is serious stuff for people who either have
extensive handyman experience, or are crazy, or both (like
me). I'd try it on my own house in a heartbeat, because I have
this technical education that helps, I think. But if something
went wrong, what would the insurance company say? They'd say
"tough luck buddy". The possibilities for financial
ruin are quite high. Ahhh, I'll try it on my girlfriend's
However, you might talk to
some companies that do house moving. Moving a house down the
road is expensive, but just lifting it up isn't quite so bad.
If you can make a truly livable basement (if the walls are
reasonably sound and don't let much water in) you might
increase the value of your house by more than it cost to raise
Bruce W. Maki, Editor.