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What's Involved In Cutting Into Your Foundation

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Even for do-it-yourself homeowners, there are some jobs that really require a professional to ensure a good outcome. One of these areas is cutting into a concrete foundation. You may want to do this in order to build or finish a basement, or to add on to a home that has a basement.

Even when you have a professional do the work, it's good to know what's involved with a project like cutting through the foundation of your home, so you're aware of the benefits and pitfalls of doing so.

The first step is to have a foundation specialist examine your home's foundation to make sure that it is sound. If there are cracks or other problems with the foundation, your contractor can either make the repairs or perform a thorough structural assessment to determine what work is required before moving forward on cutting places for windows and doors.

What Tools Are Needed to Cut Through Concrete Foundations?

The most effective tools for cutting through concrete foundations are not in the average homeowner's tool chest. Most foundations are at least 8 inches thick, with some being up to 10 inches thick.

Also, sometimes concrete foundations are reinforced with metal rebar. This makes for a stronger base, but it can pose additional complications for making holes in the wall.

The thick concrete combined with the potential for metal reinforcements embedded within means that a large -- up to 30 inch -- diamond blade is required to cut the foundation all the way through from one side.

How is the Best Place to Cut Determined?

In order to create a hole that will fit a new door or window, the foundation may need to be lowered or part of it may need to be reinforced. This may require an evaluation by a structural engineer, which is a good idea whenever you make changes to the foundation of a home.

The engineer will be able to determine the structural loads, calculate the proper opening size and location for windows and doors in the wall, and figure out if there will be a need for any reinforcement above the opening before the windows and doors are installed.

In some municipalities, you'll need a permit to do work that involves cutting into your foundation. In these cases, it is likely that a structural engineer's assessment will be required to proceed. In other cases, your concrete cutting professional may suggest or strongly recommend a structural evaluation before doing any work.

Once the holes for the windows and doors have been cut, you may also need the services of a masonry expert to properly install them. Talk to your concrete cutting professional about whether they can perform the work or recommend another contractor. To learn more, contact a company like McNabb Construction.