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19.09.2015
When you leave for work and want to lock your doors, you simply push the button again and the home is protected by it’s steel shell. The architects website states that the home has bunk beds, a double bed room, and a dressing room. When it comes to mobility the contain rests on 6 concrete footings, allowing the home to be sited at a variety of different ground conditions. We first met Paige and Evan last fall when we did a consultation for their small 1918 house in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. We discussed a few different options and ultimately decided that lifting the house made the most sense. Aside from lifting the house about 30″, the design also included filling in the recessed portions at the front and back of the house (which provided a spot for the new interior stair) and adding a new covered front porch. The existing bedroom on the main floor will become a more casual living space (with a larger opening and sliding door) while the front of the house will serve as dining area (something that didn’t really exist before). Now, fast-forward to late spring when the building permit was issued and construction started!
To make way for the machinery needed to lift the house, they also had some clearing that needed to happen first.
The general contractor is actually Paige’s dad, Michael, and she left her old job to be his right-hand man (err, woman) during construction.
Before the house could be lifted, they had to move everything out of the basement, demolish the interior framing and remove the existing siding and sheathing at the basement level.
Paige and Evan worked with Kunkel Moving & Raising, a local company that has been lifting, leveling and moving houses in the Seattle area for over 100 years! Next, a boom crane delivered the steel beams through openings cut in the temporary plywood sheathing. Crazy side story: after visiting the house for the first time we realized that we actually used to live across the street, in a small house that we rented for a year before buying chezerbey in 2006! The house was lifted about 12″ higher than its final location, but this allows for the new foundation and framing to be added more easily. After the house was up in the air, work got underway on demolishing the existing foundation.
It can be possible to work with a house’s existing foundation (just building a taller stud wall on top) but for this project the owners wanted to tear out and pour a proper foundation.
There’s Michael rocking the excavator above and the happy (although probably pretty tired) homeowners below.
Formwork for the new concrete footings went in last week and next up is pouring the new foundation!
During our own remodel, we used to always hope that we’d find some gold bars or just something interesting or unique.
We’re so excited to continue watching the progress on this remodel and see the interior spaces start to take shape (and sharing updates here).


Kyle and I stopped by the house a few weeks ago to check out the progress and I may have had a tiny bit of remodel envy. Underpinning can be time and labor-intensive and they still would had had to dig down quite a bit to get a code-compliant ceiling height. There are certainly a lot of variables to consider and sometimes digging down and underpinning does make more sense (we’re doing that on another remodel project). Comparing to the person standing there in the photo right above the video the new basement space looks very high, about 3 meters(about 9 to 10 feet?) – will the future rooms stay that high? That you can still live in your place while working on the new basementfloor sounds like a moneysaver on one hand but must be an adventure too. I’d be interested to hear what an experienced house lifter would say about their ability to lift your house. That said, this was fun to read about and making GOOD use of the untapped space by raising up of your humble abode. Getting as much natural light as possible into a basement is the best way to ensure that it will get a lot of use; gloomy basements are extremely uninviting!
Oh, and I forgot to mention the first picture with the dogs – soooooo cute; they look pathetic in their doggy jail!
If I needed some house-lifting done in the Indianapolis are, where would I begin researching this type of contractor? Hi Julie, I think a lot of companies that do whole house lifting also will lift or repair portions of a house too. I think the open nature of the porch and it’s overall size will help with the transition (vs.
My favourite aspect of this home is how it manages to meld the exterior and interior so well – at the push of a button the container begins to tranform, revealing an exterior deck and a lofted sleeping are, which can be left exposed to the elements when the weathers good.
One side of the container is populated predominately with floor-to-ceiling windows, bathing the interior with natural light on the cloudiest of days. So many houses in Seattle (whose housing stock is largely from the early 20th century) have this same short-basement dilemma, including ours.
To simplify the existing framing, we kept the location of the interior load-bearing wall and added several larger windows to bring more natural light into the rooms. Without getting into too much technical jargon, the main gist of raising a house is to first build heavy timber structures (called cribbing) that will support the steel beams that the house will temporarily rest on while new walls are constructed.
Even crazier, although Paige and Evan didn’t live there at the time, their two dogs did.
The new footings were also designed to accommodate a second story if they decide to expand again in the future. Paige and Evan didn’t stumble across any fortunes, but they did find these cool glass bottles, one of which was from the Keystone Liquor Company, a Seattle-based outfit that was in business from 1902-1914! Although we still have plenty of work to do here at chezerbey, I clearly remember the excitement (and sometimes fear!) that came with those big, game-changer projects.


The soil around these parts is usually hardpan at that level which makes it all the more difficult, not to mention doing the work in a short, enclosed space.
The house will come down 1 foot, plus the dirt under the house will be raised and leveled a bit, then 2 inches of insulating foam and 4 inches of concrete will eat up some more of the space. I’ve tried to keep up with blogs about various topics over the years and always failed to keep posting, so this is an easy way to keep track of the project.
I also live in Seattle, and we are just starting our search for a new house in the North end, but as you know prices there are high and houses go so fast. There is something to be said for small houses, as long as you don’t need the extra space most small homes offer. This started out as the story of two architects and their 1910 fixer-upper in Seattle, but you know what they say…when you own an old home, it ends up owning you!
The previous owner remarried someone with severe dog allergies and so the new homeowners adopted the dogs.
We had originally planned to pour on top of the existing concrete slab, but it wasn’t very thick and mostly crumbled under the weight of the excavator. As architects, it’s so rewarding to help breathe new life into an old house and even more so when the family behind it are energetic, smart and design-minded.
The only change was that the sewer was temporarily disconnected and capped while it went up, then was reconnected later that day.
Generally, the front will go from the hip roof to 2 nested gables, the first across the whole house and the second sharing the north side of the first but only extending over the porch. A full basement below meant a lot of potential, but sadly the ceiling height was only 6′ or so.
The small recessed porch will be enclosed to create a mudroom entry and a new covered front porch will be added to the front of the house. Bailey was a puppy when we lived across the street, so very likely that they had met (or at least sniffed each other out) on a few occasions! Our electricity comes in from overhead so that stayed connected the whole time, and we had previously hooked up to the water main with a rubber hose so that floated up with the house too. We wanted them as low as possible while still being able to meet the emergency egress requirement of 44 inches without needing to have window wells. Beyond that we’re not quite sure yet, because we had Lauren and Kyle stop short of designing it for budgetary reasons.



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