Why You Should Avoid DIY Underpinning

Jun 10, 2022 | Blog

With DIY projects gaining popularity in recent years, you may be tempted to start your next home project: a basement renovation. But before you do, it’s important to understand that some renovations may be a little too complicated to DIY.

When it comes to renovating the basement, underpinning might be required. Basement underpinning is a massive undertaking and it entails lowering the basement floor, directly affecting the integrity of the foundation. In addition, this form of renovation can require the relocation of your water heater, heating system, and pipes. Plus, a new drainage system may need to be installed and you may need to waterproof the walls.
Foundation repairs and restructuring is best left to the professionals for a number of reasons. In this article, we will look at why DIY underpinning is not recommended for homeowners and how you can avoid these common underpinning mistakes.

The Walls Could Develop Cracks

Before, during, and after a DIY underpinning job, if you notice any cracks in the walls of the foundation, it could spell trouble! It should be noted that small cracks in a foundation wall may be a normal response to the settling of the concrete. When first poured, it is common to see these during the curing process.

The appearance of large cracks means the foundation is weakening and may not be able to withstand the weight of the structure much longer. Lowering the basement alone will not help this issue as the foundation itself will need to be addressed. This is one of the potential issues that can arise in this type of project.

Your Foundation Could Sink

The foundation of a house is only as good as the ground it sits on. In other words, not all soil is the same. A professional contractor will conduct a soil survey to test the soil your foundation is sitting on.

If the foundation does not adapt to the soil, the foundation will require specific anchoring. Foundation anchors stabilize and support the foundation walls. They are usually found in hard-packed soil that is adjacent to the house. A sinking foundation due to poor construction can result in a collapse of the foundation and house.

You Might Have an Uneven Foundation

Similar to a sinking foundation, one that is uneven or poorly constructed, can cause weak spots and cracks to form. Unseen obstacles such as tree roots can create bumps, causing the foundation to rise and sink in various sections. This impacts the reliability of the foundation.

As with any solid base, it is important to ensure the components of the material are aligned and intact. Only a straight foundation will be able to maintain its uniformity for years.

Underpinning Is Risky and Dangerous

Still wondering if you can underpin your own basement? Regardless of the complications you might face with a DIY project, the job itself can be dangerous. Envision the project in your mind: you will be working under a structure weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds!

The obvious hazards of providing proper support to the foundation, removing the concrete flooring, and the relocation of pipes and wiring are only a few of the necessary tasks for this massive undertaking. Damage to the structure, and to yourself, can be irreversible.

DIY Might Cost More Than Professional Underpinning

The idea behind a DIY project is to save money, time, and to enjoy the process as you learn new skills. An underpinning DIY plan does not meet any of these expectations, least of all, enjoyment.

Unless you perform underpinning jobs as a profession, chances are an expert will eventually need to be called to redo the project. This can quadruple the initial cost of an underpinning service, depending on the damage that needs to be fixed.

Underpinning Might Aggravate Existing Issues

Without a doubt, most homeowners know cracked and leaning walls are a sign of a problem with the structure of a house. The integrity of a home’s foundation can be questionable with these and other hidden signs.

Before an underpinning project is started, a professional contractor should come to assess the project as they knows what to look for to ensure the job itself does not further weaken the foundation. A trained specialist can recognize and address potential challenges to prevent problems with the foundation down the road.

You Might Not Have the Right Equipment for the Work

DIY experts know it is crucial to have the right tools and material to complete any project. With underpinning a basement, it takes more than a shovel and a toolbox. From steel beams, jackhammers, and cement mixers, there are specific tools required to perform an underpinning project properly.

When looking for “underpinning companies near me”, ensure they are professionals with experience in strengthening basements. Reputable experts will have the proper specialized equipment and knowledge to guarantee the task is done properly and within a certain timeframe.

You Have a Lack of Expertise

Another major reason why you should avoid DIY underpinning is a lack of expertise. Yes, there are videos and step-by-step instructions on underpinning and potential problems online. There are also as many disaster videos on what can go wrong with DIY.

Those in the business have had extensive training in underpinning and handling unexpected engineering problems. With this type of project, knowledge and experience are essential tools.

Contact Elite Construction and Renovations for Basement Underpinning

If you’re looking for the most comprehensive basement underpinning in Toronto, Elite Construction and Renovations can help you. Backed by a team of highly specialized professionals, we have been performing underpinning, construction, and renovation projects in the GTA for more than 15 years.

From project conception to after site cleanup, we are with our customers throughout the entire process. Our goal is to help make your vision for your dream home come true with top-quality performance and 100% customer satisfaction. We provide a two-year workmanship guarantee and honour all associated product warranties. Contact us today!

Jay McDonald

Jay McDonald

Jay McDonald, general contractor and owner of Elite Construction & Renovations, has over 20 years of construction experience. He has completed various Ontario Building Code and Business Management courses from George Brown College and has managed over $50 million-dollars-worth of construction in his career.