How Much Does It Cost to Dig Out a Basement?

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated March 7, 2022
An open-space living room and kitchen located in a house’s basement
Photo: PhotoSerg / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Adding a finished basement typically costs between $60,000 and $150,000

  • Be prepared for unexpected costs; the total can rise higher than $200,000

  • Costs add up while raising the home, excavating, and pouring a new foundation

  • Adding finished square footage can result in a substantial ROI

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Perhaps you want to expand your house to accommodate more storage or build out a recreational area. Or maybe your home could really benefit from another bedroom and bathroom because your growing family needs more space. If you're thinking about all the unused square footage potential sitting beneath your home, you might also be wondering if it's possible to dig out a basement. The good news is that—while it is a more significant investment—you can hire building contractors to lift your house off its foundation, excavate the area, and pour a new foundation for a basement.

Converting a crawl space to a finished, 2,000-square foot basement typically costs between $60,000 and $150,000—and can quickly climb to more than $200,000 if your home presents particular challenges or you opt for more expensive house-raising methods and basement finishing materials. Let’s dive into this and other cost considerations for digging out a basement.

Average RangeMinimum Maximum
$60,000 – $150,000$60,000$200,000

How Much Does It Cost to Dig Out a Basement per Square Foot?

Converting a crawl space or excavating a new basement under an existing home entails a substantial amount of home construction work that’s likely to be done by a general contractor and a few different subcontractors. Depending on your home’s age, structure, and other deciding factors there may be some, variation from project to project. However, overall, you should expect to pay between $30 and $75 per square foot

Basement Excavation Cost Breakdown

An excavated basement in a construction field
Photo: Dave Willman / Adobe Stock

Adding a new basement or expanding a crawl space beneath an existing home is a complex process that may entail any number of ancillary jobs and expenses. 

Pie chart showing cost to dig out a basement

Permits

No matter where you live, a project that requires you to lift an existing home off its foundation and excavate below will almost certainly require building permits. Given the structural nature of this project, these permits will be pricier than standard ones, so expect a total around $1,200 to $2,000

Raising or Bracing The House

In order to dig into the earth, contractors will need to lift your home from the ground. There are two different ways of doing this: raising and underpinning.

The simplest, least expensive way of raising the house is for your general contractor to hire a foundation repair specialist to lift it with hydraulic jacks. Depending on the size and condition of your house, the average cost for this step is between $3,045 and $9,379. This is the less expensive option, but it may result in some cracking drywall and damage to your floors and ceilings. 

The second method—underpinning—involves bracing the existing foundation footings individually, then raising the structure gradually to limit damage to floors, walls, and ceilings. The process can add up to $20,000 to your project due to significantly increased labor time and effort. 

Excavation 

Excavation costs vary based on factors like terrain and the equipment required. Professional excavators will survey the site and make bids on the project. When converting a crawl space or expanding a basement, expect to pay at least $75 and $150 per cubic yard of dirt. Adding 1,000 square feet of the basement will require the removal of about 300 cubic yards of dirt—costing between $22,500 and $45,000. These costs also assume the crawl space floor is unfinished. However, if there's concrete to break through, expect an additional $500 to $1,500 in excavation costs. 

Drainage and Plumbing

Adding a new basement or converting a crawl space requires a plumbing system to make it habitable. Installing plumbing beneath the foundation costs between $1,000 and $3,000. Expanding your drainage system will add between $2,000 and $5,500

Foundation

After the space has been dug and the plumbing and drainage set, you can have a new foundation poured for $10,000 to $30,000. That cost includes the floor, the footing, and the walls. 

Finishing the Basement 

If you plan to finish the basement—a necessity if you want to maximize the space and get a worthwhile ROI—budget an additional $10,000 to $30,000. This amount is determined by the new basement’s size and the quality of materials. On average, finishing a basement runs between $15 and $20 per square foot.

Insurance

Digging a basement underneath your house involves a number of structural changes, so it’s important to verify that you’ve got the right homeowner’s insurance coverage in place before the project begins. Talk to a home insurance agent to ensure your existing plan applies and covers up to $100,000 to $200,000 for any necessary repairs.  

How Much Does It Cost to Dig Out a Basement Yourself?

While operating a skid loader might sound like a lot of fun, there are no circumstances under which you should attempt a DIY basement excavation beneath an existing home. Every step of the process requires specialized expertise and equipment. Given the range of different skill sets involved, hire a trusted general contractor who can oversee the whole project and hire reliable subcontractors, including a structural engineer to keep your project on the right footing.

Digging Out a Basement Questions and Answers

Is it worth it to dig out a basement? 

Adding additional square footage to your home will always increase its value. Depending on where you live, converting a crawl space to a finished basement or digging out a new one beneath an existing home can yield a significant ROI. Adding a walkout basement can also lead to a higher ROI. However, the most important consideration is area land values and what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood since high project costs mean that your home's future selling price must increase significantly   

If you have the space to build more on the ground level or upper levels, an addition is significantly less expensive than expanding the basement. A home addition provides the same square footage and ROI benefits. Typical costs for a new home addition run between $20,900 and $72,600.  

How much does it cost to finish a crawl space?

If you don’t wish to dig it out and convert it into a finished basement, you can still encapsulate your crawl space to protect it from damage—for an average cost of $5,500.

Can you make your basement deeper?

If you don’t have a crawl space but a partial basement you want to make deeper, you can expect to spend a little less—between $50,000 and $90,000 on average. However, if you’re not adding new finished square footage, you won’t see much in the way of ROI. 

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