The Complete Guide to House Lifting Methods

Houselifting is the act of elevating a house above its foundation. You probably already know this.

You may not know this, but depending on the reason you are elevating your house, and the integrity of the structure, the height you can raise your house by is 5 to 12 feet.

Houselifting is also known by the following names: house raising or house jacking.

Lifting your home is an option for those looking to increase the value of their home or create additional space by finishing a basement, without taking over too much space on the porch or yard.

This is not only a clever way to create space ex-nihilo but it can also be a cost-effective method to modify your living space.

It avoids additional costs that could be incurred when you try to sell your house to purchase another. (Moving costs and realty fees, taxes etc.

Understanding how houses are lifted

In a nutshell, house raising is: Brace the home. Lift the house. Brace. Grab it once more. Repeat.

The actual process can be a little more complicated and challenging, but that’s about it.

Most Seattle house-lifters use a standard method that involves running steel beams underneath the house and then using synchronized Jacks to raise it and add cribbing below.

This is done in stages. This method requires two components: hydraulic jacks to lift the house and cribbing support.

The house-lifters will remove the house from its foundations during the elevation process and lift it using hydraulic jacks. The temporary supports called cribs are used to hold the house while an extended or new foundation is built below.

First, drill holes at intervals in foundation walls so that steel beams can then be installed at key points below the floor framing.

Each beam should be placed perpendicularly to the floor. The second set is placed below the first and parallel to it.

The elevation process starts once each steel beam is installed and a jack is placed. Each jack can only go so high. The house and hydraulics jacks will be supported at intervals during the elevation process as the jacks rise. After the house has been raised high enough, the house can be supported again on cribbing while new foundation walls are constructed to the desired height.

The jacks are placed under the house and connected to a hydraulic jacking machine which can raise each jack exactly at the same time. After the house is lowered onto the foundation walls, the beams and holes were removed.

This method works well in houses that were originally built on crawlspaces, partial basements, or open foundations.

New Possibilities House-Lifting Opens Up for Seattle Home-Owners

Our experience has shown that although most people want to increase their homes to increase their height, others do it to fix structural problems such as foundation damage due to movement or settling.

Most cases will require the removal of the house to enable complete replacement.

Because of this, depending on the state of the house, some renovations to the foundation cannot be done without the house being lifted.

There are three main reasons to lift a house:

Add Head Height or Space below Your House

Maybe you are one of many Seattle homeowners who has been dreaming about a basement. Perhaps an office. Or perhaps a mini gym.

Many homeowners want more space for their hobbies or work, but they still want to live in their current neighborhood.

You can build an office by lifting your house. You can not only build a basement from scratch but also expand an existing basement and make it more functional.

Conserving your yard space and your home’s original footprint

You can add an additional bedroom to a house built on top beams. You can also preserve your unoccupied land.

You can avoid the negative consequences of expanding horizontally by raising your house. This is often homeowners’ first recourse. Also, you won’t have to worry about clearing the grass or encroaching on your yard, or even removing your beautiful trees.

You can lift your home to preserve your original footprint. You have the option to either expand upwards or downwards so you won’t be compromising your home’s architectural integrity.

Retrofitting for Earthquakes & Meeting Seismic Standards

Seattle homeowners didn’t have to secure their homes into the foundations before 1980. Building codes weren’t as strict back then as they are today.

This is not to say that homes weren’t “unsecure” prior to the 1980s. However, many of the current measures are the result of events that have occurred between then and now.

With Seattle’s current climate and seismic conditions, most homeowners now know that a home without adequate foundation protection is more likely to “slide away” in an earthquake.

Engaging the right house-lifter means that your home will be accurately profiled against your local seismic record. Once the house has been safely elevated enough to expose its foundation, retrofitting it to seismic standards is possible. The house-lifters can then reinforce the beams and increase the wall strength.

As it sounds, seismic retrofitting is done during house-lifting to improve the structural resilience of your house. It does not have to be “earthquakeproof.”

You can reduce the chance of your home being damaged by seismic activity. You also protect the lives of those living in a home that has been damaged by an earthquake. At the very least, make their home strong enough that it can withstand the sharp effects of rocks shaking beneath. Houses can, and have, in the past, collapse on themselves.

Seattle homeowners who are considering house-lifting are advised to make sure the necessary preparations are made in order to comply with seismic standards.

With Seattle’s tendency to occasionally experience seismic activity, hiring a skilled group of contractors will make you more secure.

You can also make other structural repairs that are urgently needed

Many Seattle homeowners don’t realize that their foundations are in poor condition.

Foundation problems are more common than you might imagine, and older homeowners know this.

Unnoticeable damage to your foundation could be caused by a variety of factors, including an inept drainage system, natural disasters and consistently bad weather.

Although adding extra rooms or height to your home might be the main motivation, a houselifting project can help you to identify structural problems in your home and fix them before they become serious.

This is a great way to think about it, especially for older Seattle homes. In this instance, you will likely kill two birds by starting a houselifting project.

No matter what the reason for your home being lifted, lucky or not, hiring the services of the right contractor is a cost-effective, easy, and painless process.

Things to consider when budgeting for your house-lifting project

Your House’s Dimensions

As we mentioned, the heavier and more complex your house is, it will make lifting much harder. The whole process will take longer.

The houselifting company will typically bill you per square foot for any work performed, such as disconnecting utilities (power and plumbing, sewer, water, gas and footing drains).

This is because larger houses require more workers, tools and equipment.

Permits Required

Houselifting falls under major renovation so a permit exemption is not applicable.

A house lifting auckland permit in Seattle can cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. The exact figure will depend on the number of factors.

  • Your home’s position
  • The value for the lifting project
  • The exact duration for the lifting project

These high regulatory costs are a reason why you must hire the best and most efficient contractors on the market.

A reliable contractor will not only ensure a smooth project, but they’ll also help with all paperwork.

Hidden Costs

Unexpected spikes in fees are inevitable. These spikes will not be caused by the construction company, but unaccounted-for services costs.

These costs include fees to safely disconnect and connect your plumbing, cable TV, broadband Internet, indoor water supply, and electrical mains.

To safely (dis/re), connect each of these items, a specialist will be needed.

A Few Common Questions about Houselifting

  • How many days will I need to be away from my house?

Well, it depends. The length of the basement finishing work and the lifting project will determine how long you’ll be away from your home.

Our experience shows that 12-16 weeks is the ideal time. This is how long it takes for an average home to be lifted and ready for reoccupation. You might receive a lower figure depending on which contractor you asked for a quote. Expect most firms to give you a range of periods between 12 and 16 week.

  • Is it possible to leave furniture in my house while I lift them?

Yes, you can. It’s important to protect valuables, especially those that are pricey or fragile. You and yours will be better off for their sake.

Theft is another thing to be concerned about. Although it’s not common for burglars to steal from construction sites, it has been reported.

Our advice? Get everything out of your house before you start the project.

  • Do you require city approval to raise a house in Seattle


Houselifting falls under, a regulated category for significant renovations. You will need to notify the authorities and pay them.

You would only need to notify us about your plans. We can then start the planning process and make sure that your project is approved for construction.

Last House-Lifting Tips

Your House-Lifting Crew Must Always Have Their Safety Precautions On Standby

Contractors who are performing the elevation should have a detailed statement outlining all risks involved during the project.

Safety-wise, there are many boxes that need to be checked. You need to ensure that electrical connections are safe, along with indoor water connections, and foundation integrity during lifting.


Katherine L. Branton

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