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Add Height to Your Basement: Underpinning vs Benching


Terry Kobatskyi

Terry Kobatskyi

Terry is a reliable project manager with over 15 years in construction field, who has started his career of working in the trenches. Learn More About Terry Kobatskyi

Excited about transforming your basement? Let’s explore underpinning vs. benching! Basements have changed from being storage areas to becoming essential parts of our homes. If you’re considering professional basement waterproofing in Toronto to make your basement more spacious, you’re in for an exciting journey. Discover whether underpinning or benching is the right choice for you. Let’s get started!

What Is Underpinning The Basement? 

When it comes to underpinning the basement, digging is involved around the perimeter of the basement walls. It removes the basement footings and excavates them to the lower depth. (Note: If you identify leaks, contact leaky basement repair services in Toronto for immediate assistance.)

After that, new footings are poured at the depth, further sectioned off and installed with new floors. Underpinning is usually a stressful and challenging task that only professionals in basement repair services in Toronto should handle. 

It is costly, but counting on service providers like Aquatech Basement Waterproofing can help you stay within the budget. 

What Is Benching The Basement? 

Another way by which you can add height to the basement is through the process of benching. It is also known as bench footing. In this process, instead of excavating beneath the existing basement foundation, a ledge is made around the walls of the basement’s perimeter. 

The basement’s foundation is then lowered within the space of the bench. After that, a concrete slab is poured at the lower depth without changing the foundation wall. For basement lowering in Toronto, you can always take help from professionals with years of experience.

This process is considered less expensive but can be consuming. So if you are a busy person, it is suggested to count on basement waterproofing professionals in Toronto like Aquatech Basement Waterproofing company. 

Underpinning VS Benching

Here’s an informative table comparing underpinning and benching based on various factors:





Typically higher due to extensive foundation work

Generally more cost-effective, focusing on interior improvements


Provides stronger foundation support, suitable for heavy loads

Offers moderate support for light to medium loads


Involves excavating and reinforcing the existing foundation

Focuses on interior enhancements and doesn’t involve foundation modification

Time Needed

A longer and more time-consuming process

Relatively quicker and less disruptive

Expertise Required

Requires skilled professionals and structural engineers

Can be managed by experienced contractors or DIY enthusiasts

Space Gained

Allows for significant increase in basement height

Offers moderate space improvement, ideal for minor renovations


More disruptive to your living space during construction

Minimizes disruption as work primarily occurs indoors

Cost of Permits

Typically involves additional permits and approvals

May require fewer permits, depending on local regulations

Recommended Use Cases

Ideal for major structural improvements and full basement transformations

Suitable for minor basement upgrades and improvements

Remember, the choice between underpinning and benching depends on your specific goals, budget, and the condition of your basement. It’s essential to consult with a professional to determine the best option for your needs!

The Cost Of Underpinning & Benching

Underpinning typically costs between $50 to $150 per square foot due to its extensive foundation work, while benching is more budget-friendly, ranging from $10 to $30 per square foot. Actual costs depend on various factors, so obtaining quotes from professionals is essential for accurate pricing.

When Should I Choose Underpinning?

You should choose underpinning for your basement when:

  • You have severe foundation issues.
  • You want to maximize basement height significantly.
  • You need to support heavy loads or plan structural changes.
  • A structural engineer recommends it for your specific situation.

Underpinning is a robust, long-term solution suitable for substantial basement renovations and addressing severe foundation problems.

When Should I Choose Benching?

You should consider benching for your basement when:

  • You have budget constraints.
  • Your renovation goals are minor.
  • Time and disruption are concerns.
  • Your intended use does not require robust structural support.

Benching is a practical choice for budget-conscious projects, minor improvements, and situations where a faster, less disruptive solution is preferred.

Trust Professionals for Hassle-Free Basement Transformation!

When it comes to adding height to your basement, don’t go it alone. Trust the experts at Aquatech Waterproofing for top-notch waterproofing services in Toronto. With their dependable solutions, your basement transformation will be a breeze, and you’ll have to put in minimal effort. Contact Aquatech Waterproofing today to get started!

Is underpinning better than benching a basement?

The choice depends on your specific needs. Underpinning is for major renovations, while benching suits minor improvements.

What are the dangers of underpinning?

The dangers of underpinning include potential structural instability, foundation damage, safety hazards, and cost overruns. To minimize these risks, it’s essential to enlist experienced professionals who follow proper engineering and safety protocols and adhere to local regulations.

Can you lower a basement floor without underpinning?

Benching is effective for minor basement renovations, offering a practical and budget-friendly solution. However, its effectiveness varies depending on your project’s scope and requirements.

What should you always use when you are benching?

When benching your basement, it’s crucial to always use professional guidance from experienced contractors or engineers, high-quality materials, proper permits, safety measures, appropriate tools, good workmanship, and regular inspections to ensure a successful and effective renovation.