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My husband and I recently purchased a home in Orange County, CA (note: earthquakes). The home was built in 1981, and is two "levels" if you will. The entry way, living room, all bedrooms, and a couple bathrooms are one level. The lower level is about 16 inches lower... from the entry way you can step down into a walkway, family room, and then beyond is the kitchen etc.

The living room and family room are right next to each other, with a two way fireplace in the middle, high ceilings (vaulted, but about 18 feet at their highest. There is no wall between (with the exception of the fireplace).

My husband and I would like to combine the living room and family room into one large great room if possible. But there is the 16ish inch-thick concrete foundation that is higher (I'm not sure if I'm making sense, so Im' trying to be descriptive as possible...I'll get a photo). If we were to break into this concrete would we be breaking the foundation? And if we DID break the foundation, could we fix it, or would we compromise the structure of our home?

Due to the roofline, raising the foundation in the lower room is not an option.

  • Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. You're right: a photo or diagram would really help. – Daniel Griscom Sep 27 '16 at 0:37
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The nature of what you are proposing here is really beyond what you can get proper response to from a group of folks on the internet. You really need to subscribe the services of a structural engineer in your area before you "break into" anything. They will be way more experienced to evaluate things like:

  1. Existing foundation structure
  2. Building construction technique
  3. Building regulations and codes in your local
  4. Whether the existing structure has on grade concrete floors or above grade wood floors.
  5. Access to public building permit records for your abode
  6. Comprehend the ground type on your lot relative to local conditions
  7. Familiar with climate zone and how that applies to your existing house.

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