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Can I pour a concrete basement foundation near the lot line?

michaelwetter's picture

We're building a house and the architect has designed it such that one of the basement foundation walls is a foot from the lot line with our neighbor. The neighbor is a gardner that is sensitive about having his yard disrupted. I have a builder telling me that this is going to be difficult and expensive and the architect telling me it can be done as long as some caution is used. Does anyone have experience to offer here?

Thank you!

Can be done. (post #214813, reply #1 of 14)

You can dig pretty dare smooth walled holes.  Setting forms from the inside of the hole is the hard part.  I am not a cement guy but seen it done.

However, what are you set back requirements?  5 or 10 feet are very comon requirements.


Check local code and zoning regulations (post #214813, reply #2 of 14)

Around here you can't get close than 5 feet to the property line.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Be Carefull (post #214813, reply #3 of 14)

The first issue you face is your local set-back requirement. See your city building department. You will need a construction permit. You may also need right of way, sewer and other permits. BE CAREFUL that you are in compliance with local building codes. Also be careful that you are in compliance with the IRCode and, where applicable, State Codes. Digging that close to your property line raises possible legal issues.

Digging neatly is entirely possible. It only depends on the care taken by the backhoe operator and his/her ability to get the machinery properly placed. All told, what you describe raises red flags in my mind.

Mel Fros

Re: concrete foundation - we've got the variance from the city (post #214813, reply #4 of 14)

Thanks to those that replied for your advice! 

We've got the variance from the city to build the basement wall a foot from the lot line. My question is more the technical feasibility. It sounds like the advice I'm getting here is that it is doable?


ICFs (post #214813, reply #5 of 14)

I'd be hesitant to try to do this as a poured in place wall. Setting and stripping forms with only 1' of clearance would be difficult. If you need any shoring it will be darn near impossible.Waterproofing the whole wall would be also.If the wall is that close to the line how close are the footings? I assume the wall is designed so that the footings are all on your lot. 


I'd think about doing this with ICFs. You can build the ICF wall from the inside and waterproof it as it goes up. Then backfill. You have the advantage of having an insulated basement as well.

Thank you! (post #214813, reply #10 of 14)

Excellent advice! Thanks so much!

Have you made friends with (post #214813, reply #6 of 14)

Have you made friends with the neighbor yet?  How are you going to maintain that side of the house with only 1 foot to work with?  You can't even set up a ladder without being on his property.  It might be worth it to offer him $1000 to get an easement to be on his property as needed to build and maintain the property.......and then throw a $100 gift certificate to a great dinner place. It will be much less than what it will cost you to P him off

Thanks! (post #214813, reply #11 of 14)

Good advice. He's been grumpy about the whole thing but maybe some cash would help :-)

I'd say it really depends on (post #214813, reply #7 of 14)

I'd say it really depends on the soil type and how deep your excavation is going to be. In sandy soil conditions it's not unusual to have to "bench" the excavation at 45deg to prevent the dirt from collapsing into your excavation. Waterproofing can definietly be done if stay forms are used (they are left behind and buried instead of stripping them).

How close are you digging to your neighbor's house? If it's close you will need to shore or possibly inderpin to stabilize or is the neighbor just worried about his garden?

Thank you! (post #214813, reply #12 of 14)

I think the soil is pretty stable but will check. Thanks!

Yep. If it's a full height (post #214813, reply #14 of 14)

Yep. If it's a full height basement it can't be done. The rule is at either four or five feet you have to start back at a 45 degree angle, if I recall correctly. Plus, how would you possibly get forms in there, or if it's block, how to waterproof it?

How will this translate at (post #214813, reply #8 of 14)

How will this translate at the roof line / drip edge ?  Surely you'll have some overhang.  Look up instead of down !

I guess user-2409187 pinned (post #214813, reply #9 of 14)

I guess user-2409187 pinned it, great information

Where are you? Don't you have (post #214813, reply #13 of 14)

Where are you? Don't you have code issues with attempting this? I'm guessing the architect knows but I'm also sure you aren't in California. Or Hawaii, or pretty much every where else I've ever worked. Setbacks are the rule.