raise house 5 feet for workshop

sarahneiderApril 21, 2010

Hello fellow old housesters,

I have a 900sq ft 1908 house 30 x 30 ish. We have a 5 foot crawl space with a dirt floor. in the front, there is a dug out space for 2 cars with a concrete pad. about 24' below grade, maybe 10' back. I would like to fill in the front at raise the house another 5 feet so we can put a cement floor down and have the whole thing at grade and be 10' high. We have already decided not to do this in the attic. Here is my wish list: great insulation for walls and floor, 220 electric service, drainage, drainage and more drainage, plumbed for kitchen and bath (for future conversion to apt when we are too old to walk up all those stairs), Otherwise, it will be a modest space, I am a painter and we need dry storage for a library. Here are my questions for you: Does this seem doable on a budget? what are the things I really need to spend on versus what would be nice to have. We are DYI painters and decorators and I will have time to be a gofer if we do this in the spring and summer. I am happy to pay for whatever expertise in terms of engineering we need. I have been looking around the GW and have picked up a bit of knowledge but not a lot, so thanks for any advice. Is there anything I need to know about my houses inner structure? Did I mention we live in earthquake land? so foundation and drainage are all.

Thanks, Sarah

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Raising a house is not a DIY project, obviously.

You will need to consult a company that specializes in this type of work. They will have engineers etc at their disposal to determine the best way to do it.

As for "on a budget" - good luck. You are talking about a major renovation and it will be quite expensive.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 2:34PM
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Around here (Seattle) it's about $100K for lifting a house. Does that fit your budget? :)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 9:46PM
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It is a very expensive job, with a combination of heavy equipment for placing beams, followed by a lot of manual labor to finish the dig out and clean up.

Plumbing must be recreated under the house most of the time, followed by slab, then the walls.

During this whole time the house is up on beams supported by cribbing piers far enough away to allow work without the cribbing being in the way.

The walls are built with gaps around the supporting beams.
The house is then lower onto the new foundation walls and the beams slid out.
The openings in the walls are then closed up.

It can take many months of work and the entire time the house cannot be lived in (no drains, no water, and sometimes no power, let alone HVAC and natural gas).

It is marginally harder than moving a house.

When you move a house the new foundation is built pretty easily out in the open, and then the house rolled over it and set in place.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 8:38AM
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Thanks to you all for posting-we are not planning on doing it ourselves but we would very much like to be knowledgeable about what we are getting into so as not to make quite so many expensive mistakes. probably all we will be able to do ourselves is the final painting and as I said, I will have time off to fetch. $100k is exactly what I am hoping for but at the top of what I have and can borrow/scrounge from my relatives, so I need a really really accurate estimate before going in as there won't be much extra for the inevitable surprises when you go into an older house's insides. We have a duplex and our house on the same lot. One of the apts is empty right now, also in need of remodel, but we can live there while our own house is being worked on. I read a few stories of brave souls living in their raised houses- I can't imagine that, but I am excited about the prospect of a dry workshop.

canobeans-does $100k sound about right for the raising and the bit of improvements or just the house raising ??- we are in the SF bay area, probably similar to Seattle in price.

Anything you would like to add to my wish list?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 9:51AM
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I think you would need to get bids for any degree
of accuracy in price.
costs are different is different areas.
I would think that what is an affordable price here
would be much more costly in SF. We raise houses
for flood zones and hurricanes, not earthquakes.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 4:12PM
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Our neighbor raised his victorian and ruined the look of the house...have you thought about how this? He spent about 300k to raise it, and it's now worth much less than if he'd left it alone because it no longer looks like it was designed to look. It's not a huge home so I understand why someone would maybe want to get more room, but building a wing would have been much cheaper and would have kept the house style in tact verses ruining it.

He spent another (rumored) 500 to 700k on "restoration" and it's probably worth about 600 to 700k now.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 10:56AM
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I would think you could gain the same space by digging the foundation lower. It would be less disturbance to the house. Unless flooding is an issue, it's probably worth re-thinking. Maybe half up, half down. Instead of all up.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 3:09PM
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We do have a stream bed running under our house about 30 feet away and so we get a lot of wet mud and a full sump during the winter. (this is the first winter in 5 that the drought has not kept our normally muddy crawl space dry as a bone). That is why we never thought of digging out. thanks for the idea, when I talk to the contractor and engineer, I will ask. Maybe proper drainage is all that would be required for a true basement. In our neighborhood many many many charming small houses have been raised on square bunker like first floors. they are a blight!! so no we are hoping to finish the outside with the same ship lap and window frames that we already have. Some of the attic remodels are really nasty too.

Might 5 feet down instead of 5 feet up be less expensive? It would probably be more earthquake safe.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 9:06AM
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I don't really follow all that you have proposed, but would suggest that going down might indeed be less expensive.

I know here in Ohio many old post-WWI era houses were built with 6-7' "frost walls" on the perimeter, but with the middle left all or partially un-excavated. Creating a basement was a simple (though backbreaking) matter of hand digging the un-excavated crawlspace down to the desired depth and pouring a nice floor.

The resulting basement is limited to the depth of the frost wall, of course, but this option would be WAY cheaper than raising the house.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 3:35PM
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