By Jesse Morado
Finding much needed space in your older Intown home can be a challenge. Small rooms and a lack of storage can be difficult to live with for a growing family. Going up or out are always an option for gaining that additional space but large established trees, site topography, and variances can sometimes challenge these approaches.
So what other choices are there besides selling and moving to achieve that much needed space?
How about that dirt basement or crawlspace? Many homeowners over look this area of their home because they see performing a project of this nature as being extremely difficult. A fear of “my house will fall down if we start taking dirt out” also prevents homeowners from seeing this area as a beautiful finished space.
Digging out can be labor intensive, but this can be offset by the savings on materials used to generate the shell and exterior finish of an addition. Another benefit is projects of this nature are not as invasive to the interior of the home. Savings on framing materials for floor systems, exterior walls, roofing, sidings and exterior trim materials makes this type of project pretty green as well.
Other advantages with going down are the savings realized with energy usage.  Below grade environments cost less to cool and heat and as a result require less insulation.
Now I don’t want everyone to think that taking on one of these projects is a walk in the park. A great deal of planning and design must take place to achieve the space of your dreams. There are some challenges with digging out that dark dirt basement.
Depending on your homes condition and site location, dirt removal and hauling it off site can be costly. Savings can be realized if there are places on site where the extra dirt can be utilized. Structural changes associated with existing foundations, posts and columns that support areas above and relocating existing wiring and piping will be involved with a project of this nature as well.
The key to performing a project of this nature is ensuring that you have a seasoned contractor who has experience with projects of this type. I am familiar with one company in Buckhead, Jigsaw Renovations, who has been doing these projects for some time and who has made this a niche for their company.
With more and more people staying in their homes remodeling your home so it serves the needs of the family for the future is going to be the trend. So, next time you walk down into that dark dirt basement, look at it as that finished space you have been dreaming about.
Happy Remodeling!
Jesse Morado is CEO of Renovation Coach, Inc. a consulting firm providing pre-construction guidance and risk management for homeowners and business coaching of best practices for contractors.  You may reach him at www.renovationcoach.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.