Going up! House Lifting 101


No, we’re not talking about a Disney movie—homes can actually be lifted using manpower and modern technology, as opposed to balloons. It’s actually a fairly common endeavor for homeowners. Typical reasons for house lifting include: repairing the foundation, adding a basement or protecting against water damage. Last week, we lifted—with the lead of talented lifting pros D.B. Davis—a home in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle so that we could begin remodeling the space into a livable basement. Our awe of the recent lift led us to write this informational post about how a house lift is conducted. Photos provide some excellent points of view on the process. We can’t wait to share the “after” photos of the finished basement later this year.

Reasons for Lifting a House

Lifting a home is a great way to add space and increase value without taking away square footage from your yard. It’s also a surprisingly economical way to approach a change to your living space, as it avoids the costs of selling and purchasing a new home (broker and legal fees, taxes, moving costs, etc). Typical reasons include:

  • Excavating a new basement
  • Adding head room and increasing current basement functionality
  • Adding another story to the home
  • Repairing an old or deteriorating foundation
  • Protecting against or retrofitting for flooding

House Lifting Companies

Though house lifting is common, that doesn’t mean it’s not a hefty process with a substantial bill. Finding the right, experienced house lifting company is the key to the whole process. We’re lucky to work with D.B. Davis Structural Moving & Raising. The owner, Dell—a 5th generation lifter—is an extremely approachable and efficient guy. It was clear that with his great leadership, the skilled team had the entire process down to a science—as any good lifting company should. Plus, their years of experience and very successful lifts make them the most appropriate choice for the job. They even lifted the real-life “Up” home previously mentioned (see photo) and “can move anything manmade” including bridges, boats and heavy industrial buildings! Along with experience, a qualified lifting company should always have appropriate liability insurance policy.

House on Howe raised - DB Davis    1 - DB Davis
Bottom two images provided by D.B. Davis

Before the Lift

Prior to the house lifting, it is determined whether or not a new foundation or additional concrete will need to be poured. Some excavation work may also be necessary. As these considerations are being made, the homeowner will be asked to thoroughly clean their basement of personal belongings. Exterior cleaning will also take place, since patios, decks and landscaping will often need to be removed or relocated to some degree. Utilities (electricity, plumbing, phone, etc.) will also have to be shut off and disconnected, while pipes, plumbing and ductwork that hang below the floor joists will be removed. As a design-build contractor, we are normally the orchestrators of this preparation and the lift for our clients. [Read more…]