Benching Basement

Are you thinking about which basement retrofitting method is suitable for your home? Refurbishing the basement of your residence offers a range of advantages, spanning from creating additional space to enhancing the value of your home. Nevertheless, the cost and complexity of certain techniques such as underpinning might be beyond feasible limits. In that case benching the basement could be the right choice since it is a simple, safe and cheap method.

Figure 1. Basement underpinning using mass concrete.

What is benching basement?

Benching basement is a technique of lowering the floor of your basement without extending the foundation wall footings to a lower level. In other words, the foundation is not underpinned to a lower excavated level as done in basement underpinning. It involves digging to the desired depth and creating a concrete bench that slopes from the new floor to the existing wall. 

Benching basement can be a cheaper and faster alternative to underpinning, which requires cutting and supporting the foundation wall in sections and pouring new concrete footings below the old ones.

Figure 2. Benching basement

How Benching Basement Works

A benching basement works by creating a stable excavation slope that supports the existing foundation wall. The slope is then covered with a concrete bench forming the new basement wall. The bench can be finished with drywall, insulation, or other materials to match the rest of the basement. The width of the bench depends on the depth of excavation and the angle of the slope. The deeper you dig, the wider the bench will be. The created bench space can be repurposed for additional seating, storage, or integrating entertainment units, maximizing the functionality of the basement.

Pros and Cons of Benching Basement

Benching basement has some advantages and disadvantages compared to underpinning. Here are some of them:


– Less expensive than underpinning 

 – Faster and easier to install 

 – No need to disturb or weaken the existing foundation wall

 – No risk of settlement or cracking due to soil movement

-no need for extensive engineering, architectural, and regulatory considerations


– Reduces the usable floor space of the basement

 – May not comply with building codes or permits in some areas

– May not increase the resale value of the house as much as underpinning

– May not be suitable for very deep excavations or unstable soils

-It does not make the property attractive to real estate as underpinning does

-The created space may not be sought for rents as underpinning does

-Limited in the retrofit scope and type in terms of cellar height and number of levels

Is Benching Basement Right for You?

Benching basement can be a good option for you if you want to lower your basement floor without spending too much time or money, and if you don’t mind losing some floor space in exchange for more headroom. However, you should also consider the following factors before deciding:

  • The condition and type of your soil
  • The depth and width of your excavation
  • The structural integrity and design of your foundation wall
  • The building codes and regulations in your area
  • The purpose and function of your basement
  • The aesthetic and value impact of your project

Suppose you are unsure about any of these factors. In that case, you should consult a professional engineer or contractor who can assess your situation and advise you on the best solution for your needs.

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