Shelf Basements In Utah

How To Turn A Shelf Basement Into Usable Space

What is a shelf basement?

Shelf basements are commonly found in older homes throughout Utah, especially in Sugar House, the Avenues, and older parts of Ogden and Provo. A shelf basement, also known as a “shelf foundation” is created when a basement is added to a home after the home has already been built. Since the bearing strata under the footings of a home should never been compromised, builders will dig out the basement without disturbing approximately 4 feet of dirt that is next to the foundation wall.  Leaving this dirt in place creates a “shelf”, hence the name “shelf basement”. It should also be noted that more often than not, these after-thought basements are often left with about a 6 foot ceiling clearance making it difficult for anyone to know what to do with the space.  “Should I turn it into a basement or leave it as a storage, furnace, or water heater room?”

sugarhouse shelf basement

Sugar House shelf basement

Removing the “shelf” of a shelf basement is never recommended unless the foundation has been underpinned or additional support has been added such as helical or resistance piers/piles. While this is a delicate and expensive process, it is one of the only known ways to effectively “remove” the shelf from the basement.

Thinking of removing the shelf in your basement?

If you are interested in expanding your shelf basement you should arrange an inspection from an engineer to determine the strength of your home’s footing before moving forward with the project. Homes with shelf basements tend to be on the older side and the materials used to construct the footings and the strength of the footings can be questionable when dealing with a home of that age. The footing strength will greatly impact the amount of material and time necessary to safely stabilize the foundation. Once your foundation has been inspected by an engineer and a recommended stabilization plan has been provided then BASEco will be happy to provide a free estimate for the recommended stabilization plan.

Waterproofing a shelf basement

Don’t run the risk of water damaging your belongings. BASEco offers a variety of permanent waterproofing solutions including encapsulation membranes, drains, and sump pump systems to ensure your basement is a reliable, dry, usable space. Not sure if water is a concern for your shelf basement? Take a look at our pro tips to identify signs of water entering your foundation. Have you already experienced water issues? Call today for a free inspection and get peace of mind for your shelf basement!



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