I have a house with a continuous concrete stem wall, and a sill plate seismically bolted to the foundation. It's on a hillside, and the north (downslope) is post and pier (not continuous). There are anchor bolts as well.

The downhill side of the house has a crawl space big enough you can almost stand up in it, dirt below my feet.

What's the process (and reality) about digging this out a bit and creating a finished basement? Both for insulation and for increased livability / storage. I assume there's a building engineer in there?

1 Answer 1


Please use extreme caution if you proceed. This is not a job for an amateur. The back-fill dirt you are standing on in that crawl space is part of the engineered structural integrity of the entire house. If you pull too much of that dirt out of the wrong place, you can compromise the integrity of he foundation. You don't want to go there. This project can be done but you need an experienced builder in this type of construction or you need an actual building engineer to do the necessary calculations and provide drawings.

  • 1
    I said at the bottom there that I'm assuming there's a building engineer that has to get involved, that's what I'm asking. Architect, engineer, etc? Thumb through the yellow pages looking for a structural engineer?
    – Eric
    Nov 13, 2017 at 2:30
  • 1
    Start with a reputable building contractor. Good Luck. P.
    – Paul Logan
    Nov 14, 2017 at 8:53

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