Definition of Bench Footing
What is Bench Footing?
Bench footing Toronto is a basement floor lowering technique that allows to get more headroom in the basement and strengthen the foundation. This basement floor lowering method is cheaper than underpinning and does not require digging under the foundation, which can make it easier to obtain some of the permits.
What to Expect from Basement Benching?
How Does Bench Footing Work?
Bench footing requires digging a trench around the interior perimeter of the foundation. The trench is generally three feet wide to allow for a proper working space. The soil is dug to the desired depth.
A concrete footing or 'bench' is poured at the base of the trench. The width of the bench should be designed to adequately support the existing foundation wall.
After the concrete cures, layers or 'courses' of concrete block are laid atop the new footings. The size, number, and type of concrete blocks will depend on local codes and the design loads of the building.
After the blocks are laid up to the underside of the existing foundation wall, the new interior floor can then be poured. The space above the new bench ledge and the existing basement wall is then backfilled with gravel.
When completed, the new concrete blocks and bench footing reduce foundation wall height and create a step-up around the perimeter of the new basement.
Why Choose Bench Footing?
Advantages & Disadvantages of Bench Footing vs Underpinning
Benefits of Bench Footing:
Speed – can be done faster than basement underpinning
Cost – typically costs less compared to basement underpinning projects
Excavation – less digging and excavation is required
Approval – may be easier to get the required permits and approvals in some municipalities
Common Walls – may be a good compromise if you have a wall that is shared with neighbors who won’t allow digging under the wall
Disadvantages of Bench Footing:
Reduces Space – basement benching will create a bench inside the basement, that will take away some of the space. However, the bench can be integrated in the interior design of your basement.
No Crack Repair – bench footing does not require crack repair, which may result in extra cost if you would like the team to repair the cracks as well.
Not Suitable for All Soil Types - bench footing may not be suitable for all soil types, so make sure to consult an expert.
Potential Sealing Difficulties - the new joint formed at the intersection of the old and new foundation could potentially enable water ingress if not properly sealed, leading to moisture problems in the basement.
What Does Bench Footing Take?
Bench Footing Process
The process of bench footing for basement lowering may vary by area and for every specific property. It’s a complex project that requires professional planning and permits. Here is an example of what a hypothetical bench footing project may involve.
Planning and Preparation - the first step involves assessing the site, understanding the soil structure, and drawing up blueprints of the altered structure. Compliance with local building codes needs to be checked during this stage, permits, approvals, and drawings created.
Excavating the Perimeter - an interior trench is created along the inside edge of the existing foundation wall. The trench is usually about 2-3 feet wide and is excavated to the desired depth.
Constructing the Bench - once the trench is dug, a concrete footing or “bench” is created. The new concrete bench serves as a foundation for the lowered basement. The bench should be poured as thick and wide as needed to support the existing foundation wall.
Building the Concrete Blocks - after the concrete cures, concrete blocks are laid on top of the new bench up to the level of the existing foundation.
Backfilling the Bench - the space around the bench is filled with gravel to aid in drainage and reduce the potential for water damage.
Finishing the Floor - lastly, the new basement floor can be poured, with the appropriate damp-proof underlay, insulation, and vapor barrier, etc., as required by local building codes.
Remember, it is always necessary to consult a professional, as the process of bench footing can result in serious consequences if not done correctly. Bench footing contractors can ensure the process is safely and effectively carried out, and it adheres to local building regulations.
Essential Considerations Before Bench Footing Project
Before moving forward with bench footing for your foundation, there are several factors to consider:
Purpose - clearly identify the purpose of the project. Are you trying to add space or increase the height of a room such as a basement? Understanding your end goal can help you decide if bench footing is the appropriate method.
Property Evaluation - seek a thorough evaluation of your property by a structural engineer to determine if it's suitable for bench footing. The type of soil, the slope of your property, the structure of your house, and local weather conditions can all play a part.
Local Regulations - different locations have distinct building codes and regulations. You need to ensure that your plans adhere to these regulations. A permit may be required before work can begin.
Costs - Consider the overall cost of the project, which isn't limited to construction costs only. There may be additional costs like permit fees, structural engineer consultation fees, and potential unforeseen expenses if problems arise during construction.
Timelines - bench footing is a labor-intensive task and can take a significant amount of time. Make sure you have a realistic understanding of the timeline for the project.
Structural Integrity - consider the possible impact the construction may have on the structural integrity of your property. Bench footing, if not done correctly, can cause damage to the existing foundation.
Long-term implications - reduced floor area due to the bench, and the aesthetic impact should be considered.
Contractor Expertise - choosing the right contractor or company for the work is crucial. They need to be experienced with bench footing, have a good reputation, and provide a clear and comprehensive quote.
In conclusion, while bench footing can be an effective solution for specific foundation needs, it requires careful planning and professional guidance. Always consult with a structural engineer or similar professional before proceeding.
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