Our house has a walk out basement (daylight basement). In the basement, there is one corner of the house, approximately 312 sqft that has an access door. Inside of that, there is a level portion of dirt, and then the dirt is sloped up to match the front of the house.

I want to finish this area off to be usable space - actually we already have by building a 'deck' above the level portion, and then a wall and another raised area at the top height of the slope. The lower level portion provides us with 8ft head clearance, but the sloped portion only 4'. Ideally I want the whole area to be at 8ft head clearance.

To that end, I want to remove the dirt including the slope, level it out, and then pour a concrete slab in the whole area. Our builder said that moving the dirt is bad because it can cause the house to slip.

Is it safe to move this dirt? If not, can we reinforce the wall at the top end of the slope in a cost conscious way (pour some footers and brace the wall with beams that are cemented in the footer?)

  • Really depends on where the current footing is, height wise.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 0:27

1 Answer 1


As I understand it (second hand from friends in construction) you must maintain a 45-degree slope from the top of the footing (the footing must be buried according to frost depth rules if your crawlspace gets below freezing), whether that be a retaining wall or a dirt slope, you can't cut into that 45-degree or you risk undermining the foundation. A soil engineer might tell you differently depending on your soil type. Google "bench pinning" and "underpinning" for two ways to support a foundation when excavating nearby. there are also pile methods that support a footing on rammed pilings, but that method is usually used when the foundation has already gone out-of-level.

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