I want to build a basement room under existing concrete deck how do I support deck while digging out beneath? It drops off vertically would dig from that side. soft dirt. How to do this safely. thank you

  • By concrete 'deck' do you mean you have an elevated slab of concrete supported by posts? Or are you referring to a patio...which is concrete laid at ground level?
    – DA01
    Nov 9, 2015 at 16:33
  • 2
    Do not do this. Really. There is no conventional and safe way to do this and (most probably) no one here will say otherwise. Nov 12, 2015 at 14:22
  • @MarekOleszczuk is right. That concrete deck was not made strong enough to support itself across an opening. It might work for a while, and then collapse suddenly on whatever (or whoever) was below. Don't. Dec 2, 2015 at 0:45

5 Answers 5


There is no safe way to do with you are asking without being or hiring a structural engineer. Consequences for doing this wrong include being buried alive or the destruction of your house. I suggest you contact a professional to discuss the project.

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    This is a DIY site, so I normally hate to see "hire a real professional", but I think some questions cross that line... This question is way beyond any advice given online.
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 9, 2015 at 16:07

A slab on grade is designed for continuous support by the soil underneath it. It is NOT designed to span ANY distance. It simply cannot be done safely and to code. (Caveat - I'm sure a competent engineer could make it work, but the costs would be greater than demolishing and rebuilding.)


You likely don't. Instead, you'd tear out your deck/patio, dig a new hole, pour a new foundation, then build a new structure on top.

You can retrofit houses with basements by lifting the entire house off the ground and then excavating below, but that'd be overkill for a deck/patio. Cheaper/safer to just remove it first, and rebuild a proper structure from the ground up.


This would be a massive job for an engineer let alone a motivated homeowner. Ideally you should have heavy earthmoving equipment at you disposal. If you are adamant about undertaking this job you must install steel I-beams (girders) under the concrete slab. The girders should be supported on either end by a cribbage of heavy timbers that are located away from the slab (this will allow space to work). You will need to install several of these supports along the length of the slab. Once the supports are in place and carrying the load of the concrete you can excavate the soil. Next setup the forms for the foundation and pour the concrete. Once cured you lay the cinder block walls to the height of the slab. This is a very general and elementary instruction to give you an idea of the work involved. You must consult with people in your area knowledgeable and experienced with this type of difficult and laborious work. To start, check in you locality for 'building movers' or 'commercial contractors'. They should be able to give you reliable answers based on experience.


The other answers cover the safety. I just want to point out it is a really really dumb idea money wise. It will cost you double to triple the amount of money to do everything below this slab than "anywhere else". What will be the flooring, how big is the room, will it have two exits, where is the plumbing or electricity?

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