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... is it more insane to try to stabilize a brick foundation, break up a concrete floor, and dig down... Or to levitate the house as if one was going to relocate it, and build the foundation upward (or pour a new foundation in place under it)?

No, I don't think I'm serious about either. Headroom is about 6' in the 1890's section of the basement (probably originally dirt-floor cellar?) but I'm 5'8" so that isn't intolerable. But every now and then I wonder what it would take to change that.

(Given that I'm within the hundred-year-flood zone I suspect the bias might be toward going up, but I'd be really interested in knowing just how bad either would be.)

Footnote: one website claims "The cost of moving a house starts at about $12 to $16 per square foot but can quickly rise if the home is heavier, bigger or has farther to go." So figure the levitation alone at around $20k. That's actually not completely unreasonable, especially if one wanted to do all the "ideal" ground-water, insulation, and radon measures and bundled them into the cost of the new foundation.

  • A neighbor did just that... so, yes. He jacked his house. – Harper Jan 11 '17 at 6:10
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The safer and more predictable method (probably also cheaper) is to jack the house and build up, not messing with the footings. If the lower foundation is in good shape this can be a relatively simple approach if you work in concrete masonry unit lifts (i.e. an evenly divisible by 8 inches lift for most concrete blocks - perhaps 3 blocks or 2 feet for yours.) You raise the house somewhat more (well, unless you are nuts, your professional house movers do) and build the new block wall (reinforcing probably a good idea to ask your engineer about) on top of the old wall, then set the house back down on it.

Another fairly common option with more dire foundation issues is to either build a whole new foundation and roll the house onto it, or roll the house off to the side and build a new foundation in place, then roll the house back onto it. This requires space to do that, but it is considerably cheaper to move the house than to build the foundation while the house is in the way. However, the latter approach is also seen.

  • I agree. If you were to dig downward you'd almost certainly have to shore up the footings with new concrete, and those footings aren't likely to be nice and straight. You'll end up with some wonky knee walls eating up space. – isherwood Jan 11 '17 at 3:23
  • I'd have to roll it to the back rather than side, but that's an option I hadn't considered. Glad I asked, even if this is mostly daydreaming. – keshlam Jan 11 '17 at 3:46

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