Belmont Bench Footings | High design, High returns for a Fraction of the Price

Belmont Bench Footings | High design, High returns for a Fraction of the Price

Belmont Bench Footings | High design, High returns for a Fraction of the Price

This was an old 1905 townhouse in Charlestown, MA. Charlestown is a suburb of Boston and "use to be" complete overrun by the mob - but has now turned into one of the most expensive towns to live in. The interior of the townhouse was previously destroyed in a fire, so we were doing a complete gut renovation.

 

In order to create an additional space in house, we decided to lower the basement to create additional living space/value. Because we are in a city with a very tight building site, a bench footing was the perfect method to achieve this. For those of you knew to the renovation/flip game, here's a little information on this method of construction:

 

What is Bench Footing?

Bench footing is a process through which you can lower the basement and provide extra structural support to the foundation. There is no need to dig under the foundation in order to provide extra height to the basement. Instead, with bench footing, you can lower the basement floor level and widen the structure of the foundation.

How is Bench Footing done?

  • An architect designs and creates a perimeter around the inside of the basement walls.

  • The general contractor (GC) will dig up to the desired depth around foundation.

  • After completing the digging process, the GC will construct new footings that extend deeper than the depth of the new floor.

  • Once the new walls extend upward to the original basement depth, the GC will cover it with concrete. The finished effect will be as if the house has a concrete bench extending along the foundation wall.

  • Thus, it gives a ‘benching effect’ and an extra support to the foundation.

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What are the Advantages of using the Bench Footing Technique?

  • It is less time consuming.

  • It is cheaper than underpinning.

  • Bench footing makes no changes to the existing foundation walls.

  • It involves less excavation work.

  • Bench footing is a viable option if your house has a common wall and the neighbor does not consent you to dig under the foundation.

  • You can use the newly created ‘bench effect’ as a display area and make the space attractive.

  • It adds a luxury appeal to the basement, making it eye catching for guests or potential tenants.

 

What are Disadvantages of the Bench Footing Technique?

  • The technique is called a ‘thief of space’ because it reduces the square footage area of the basement. Also, it leaves you with limited options for using the bench structure effectively.

  • It may not add to the market value of your home.

  • It does not involve fixing any cracks in the existing structure. If you want the general contractor to repair the cracks, you may have to pay extra money for it.

What Precautions are necessary before starting the Process of Bench Footing?

Examine preliminary factors such as the following:

  • The soil on which the house is built

  • The required depth of the area

  • Intended use of the basement

  • Maintenance cost in the long run

  • Hire an expert such as a structural engineer. Get him to examine the entire area, even the outer walls of the house to know whether bench footing is the best suited technique for your house.

  • Ask the engineer to check the basic design of your house and consider factors such as the level of sanitary sewer connection.

  • Usually, lowering the basement requires a building permit from the Municipality, so make sure you get one before starting the process.

  • Do not forget to clear the basement of all the furniture or storage items.

Not all homes can withstand the process of bench footing. So, it is vital to understand the structure of your house before you begin any work in the basement. Remember that bench footing is an effortless technique for lower the basement floor. But, if it is done in an incorrect manner, it may cause harm to the house in the future.

If you’re renovating your home and in need someone to help you envision the space, or just assist in navigating permits and contractors. Studio Den Den offers one-off architectural and construction administration services. Contact us today for a quote.