Whether you’re looking to double your square footage, repair a foundation or prevent flood damage. Here’s a breakdown of the cost to lift a house and if it’s really worth the effort.
While it’s certainly possible to make the most of small spaces, however, there comes a point when things start feeling a little cramped. Whether it’s a growing family, lifestyle changes (work-from-home space) or you just have too much stuff.
There are a ton of tips and tricks that help make the most of small spaces. But if you plan on staying at your home for the next five years or more, investing in your square footage may be a great option.
We all know how the current housing market is, and now more than ever people are investing in their homes. They do this through renovations, building additional floors, and digging out basements.
Which we’re realizing can be done for a fraction of what it would cost to move.
While square footage isn’t the only reason for lifting a house, sometimes it’s out of need. Fixing a foundation and protecting your home from flood damage definitely falls into that category.
Regardless of the reasoning, this is the average cost to lift a house – and if it’s really worth the effort. Keep reading to find out the cost to list a house, the advantages and disadvantages of house lifting, and a ton of FAQ.
The Cost to Lift a House
This guide is specific to the average house raising cost in Ontario, but it can also work as a starting point regardless of where you live.
Like many other renovations, the quote will depend on the square footage and the scope of work.
For example, we recently completed work on our three-bedroom bungalow, and the cost was reflected in our existing basement. You may be wondering if it’s possible to cut costs and save money while still getting what you want.
And the answer is yes, it is.
How Much Does it Cost to Lift a House Canada?
The average cost to lift a house in Canada is between $25,000 to $50,000 to hire a company to lift a house. $35,000 to $90,000 to lift a house and repair the foundation or add on to an existing foundation. If you are looking to raise a house and add a foundation you are looking at anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000. These prices do not reflect the cost of finishing a basement.
How do you Lift a House and Replace a Foundation?
The best way to lift a house and replace a foundation is by using hydraulic jacks, with steel beams and cribbing. This allows the house to be lifted safely, and the foundation to be properly repaired or replaced.
How to Cut Costs and Save Money
Luckily, if you are handy you could save money on lifting your home.
Using my own project as an example, the plan was to raise the house and lay six rows of blocks. Giving us a usable basement instead of the 4ft crawl space we had. That meant our contractor was in charge of lifting the house, laying the brick, and installing the windows.
However, we did do the majority of the other work ourselves which cut the costs down considerably. You can find ways to save, like prepping the house yourself and re-installing the plumbing, heating ducts, and building stairs.
If you’re looking to cut costs, and save money, ask your contractor the following questions:
- Are there any ways you can help cut costs (doing your own plumbing, digging, bricklaying, cleaning up)
- What’s included in the overall cost (foundation, bricklaying, decking)
- Sometimes paying cash can also cut some costs
This is something you can chat more about with your contractor as every project is different.
Factors that Affect the Cost of Raising a House
There are many things that can increase the cost of raising a house, and it’s not always going to be reflected in the initial quote.
- House age
- The shape, structure, and issues
- Exterior issues
- The size of the house
- Utilities (plumbing, electrical, and sewer)
- Existing foundation, repairing a foundation, or building a foundation
- Landscaping issues and elevation
- Contractors or companies with experience in lifting houses
- Other issues resulting in more professional advice or services (architects, engineers)
Comparing Costs of Lifting a House
Whatever you plan on doing once your house is lifted also impacts the price. So we asked a few experts who specialize in raising homes, how much they would charge to raise a house in Canada.
Specifically how much it costs to lift a house, repair the foundation, and add an entirely new basement foundation.
The chart below shares the minimum, average and maximum costs of lifting a house. While there are many other factors that determine the overall cost of house lifting. Things like the size of your home, labor, type of foundation, and other additional considerations and costs. This is a baseline for you to get an idea of the kind of investment you’ll need.
While you may think it costs more to raise a house 4 feet, verse lifting a house 2 feet. But it doesn’t matter the height, the only price difference is in extra materials you might need.
For example, by adding 2 feet to your existing foundation, you will need less material than building a foundation.
Note: How much it costs to raise a house in Canada depends on the square footage. But that price can range from $20 to $150+ a square foot.
Disadvantages of House Lifting
Like any renovation, or remodel there are disadvantages of house lifting. But for the most part, these advantages tend to outweigh the disadvantages. But we’ll explore more of each –
Higher Property Tax
Whenever you increase your square footage, you also increase the property tax.
In most cases structural damage is rare, but it depends on the existing structure and the specialized lifting technique used. In our case, we had no issues with our foundation. As I said before we had a crawlspace, and we only needed a few extra rows of blocks to make it a usable basement.
Our contractor used hydraulic jacks that sat on the wood frame of the house. But that of course is different if you have a brick house, a historic home, or a home with multiple add-ons and additions.
You’ll also need to be aware of the state of your foundation, to begin with. Is a crumbling foundation or cracked foundation the reason why you’re lifting your home? Old concrete is another issue, and sometimes structural damage is unavoidable. But the good news is that it’s fixable. With a good contractor, you can avoid a lot of damage and create a plan for repair if necessary.
Since you are raising the house off ground level, there is always a chance of flooding with heavy rain. It did pour several times when our house was 5ft in the air, but surprisingly we had no water get in the basement. However, you can’t rule it out.
The Experience of the Lifting Company
If you have any experience hiring contractors or with renovations, you probably know that experience varies and one might be better than the other. The only way you can really avoid this issue is by vetting your lifting company. Do they have referrals? Have they experienced any issues in the past?
A good rule of thumb is to always get three quotes. I know most people say that the cheapest will cost you more in the end, but that’s not necessarily true. In our case, it wasn’t and we were so happy with the results. I did vet the lifting company that raised our house, based on the people they worked with in the past, and because they had a reference from a close family friend.
Damage to the Inside of the House
Sometimes lifting your home can move or damage things inside your home. No one knows how much your home will shift inside, sometimes which means a cracked toilet, but most often than not there will slight cracks in the drywall. Those cracks are easily filled and patched.
But preparation is key to make sure nothing breaks. We were asked to remove the art on our walls, decor that could fall, and anything breakable including glass vases, or TVs that weren’t properly secured.
You also need to be aware of other damage like:
- Drywall cracks
- Flooring separation
- Tile cracking
- Baseboard, crown molding and door casing cracking
- Wallpaper separation
- Toilets cracking
I’ve heard stories of old homes that were lifted, only to find their kitchen or bathroom tiles cracked, along with their toilet. Sometimes that does happen depending on the shape, and age of the home, and the complexity of the job.
Check out this article we wrote on how to prepare your home to be raised.
Does raising a house cause damage?
Landscaping will be an issue and you might need to redesign your yard as a result. Raising a house however doesn’t cause much damage, as long as you take the necessary steps to prepare your home to be raised, like removing or detaching decks and patios.
What are the risks of house lifting?
The risks of house lifting are pretty minimal if done with a professional. The most damage that occurs is minimal cracks in the drywall as the house shifts. Otherwise, in the interior, you will sometimes notice floors shifting, or separating, baseboards, casing, crown molding and sometimes even shifts in wallpaper.
The frame of the house is built well and can withstand the project. Other issues like minor cracks in the foundation can also be expected, but most of the time that is nothing to be concerned about.
How long does it take to jack up a house?
On average it takes at least a week to lift the house, slow and steady is the name of the game when jacking up a house. Most professionals say they aim for under an inch a day.
Our entire renovation took 6 weeks to complete, including jacking up the house, adding a few rows of bricks, and putting the house back down.
The Advantages of Lifting a House
There are so many advantages to lifting a house, we’ll share a few below. But there are many reasons to consider raising a house, like ensuring your home is good structurally, the location of your home isn’t in a flood zone, and your home’s layout.
- Additional square feet of useable space
- Maximize storage of your home
- Lifting the house can prevent further damages
- Create more floor room
- Ability to fix cracks or repair the foundation
- Add new windows and create more light in the basement
- Create a separate living space
- Create an apartment for renters
- Saves you money over buying a house with that square footage
Questions to Ask Before You Raise a House
- Is flooding a concern?
- Are there structural issues we need to be aware of?
- When was the last time our foundation was inspected?
- Are there any large trees close to the foundation that could be a problem?
- What steps do we need to take before we raise the house?
- What kind of permits do we need? and how long will the permits take?
- Does the city or township have any rules that will not allow me to raise our house?
- How old is the house and will that affect the project?
- What does the cost of lifting the house include?
- Always get a written agreement including any additional costs, or materials needed to complete the job.
I hope this helped not only break down the cost to lift a house, but also answer other questions like the advantages and disadvantages of house lifting, questions you need to ask before you lift your house and so much more.
But if you have any more questions, let us know in the comments. We’d be happy to share more. You can also follow along on my house-raising journey on Instagram.