Working With Hills (But Discovering Rivers) to Expand a Home’s Footprint by 1600 Sq Feet

When a homeowner came to us with a massive home expansion request, we were able to overcome a rising river of challenges to make the family happy.


When clients come to us looking to expand the square footage of their home, it typically means the addition of an office. Often, it’s a bigger kitchen or sometimes it’s a man cave. Your average additional square footage is around three hundred square feet. But this time, our client was thinking big… really big! And with big dreams often come big challenges — but not so big that JBC was not able to overcome them in the end.

1. A Grand Vision for a Massive Renovation Project

Overall, the Kovacics envisioned having more square footage in their hillside home. In addition to wanting a new room in their basement, they also wanted to maximize a versatile indoor/outdoor living space by giving it more natural light. The also wanted a bigger master suite for some privacy from their 4 kids. Then there was the fun challenge of building a discreet passageway connecting the master ensuite to the walk-in closet!

2. The Initial Plan

After the initial consultation and walk-through, the JBC team got right to work. It was an exciting vision and we were eager to get started. Here’s what our initial plan looked like.

  1. Add a basement-level room to the new addition on the house. We planned to excavate below the garage and install a floating slab so we could build beneath the garage and add a level above the garage to be part of the new, bigger master suite.
  2. Suspend the garage slab (the concrete floor of the garage). This would allow for additional living space below it. The entire basement space would feature 10-foot ceilings.
  3. Install an engineered beam on the corner of the house. This would support the existing structure with the addition.
  4. Install a 16 ft sliding glass wall. This would create plenty of daylight in the indoor/outdoor living spaces.

3. The Obstacles

With a multi-pronged project like this one, obstacles were bound to come up. But we never imagined we’d run into a literal river of problems! The first obstacle we ran into was that the foundation was going to have some pretty serious issues. Unbeknownst to the Kovacics (and JBC at first), there was an underground river near the back of their house.

The river had been causing soil erosion and as a consequence, the foundation of their home was starting to cave in on itself — a homeowner’s nightmare!

The river required additional precautions. We had to keep the excavation hole free from water while we constructed the foundation. This required constant pumping of water out of the hole to be done right.

4. The JBC Solution

Additional stabilization of the foundation. Because of the underground river, adding a level above the garage for the new, larger master suite would now require underpinning the existing foundation and extending it an additional 10 feet down.

A GEO Technical Report. This would enable our team to understand how to properly stabilize the excavation of the basement.

Additional measures to prevent a cave-in. To stabilize the foundation we had to use 75 X 1-tonne concrete blocks to ensure the basement we dug didn’t collapse on itself.

The Outcome

– Despite Design Changes, Permit Woes, and a Surprise Underground River, This Expansion Project Turned out Great.

Sometimes the biggest challenges end up producing the most amazing outcomes. That’s true in life as it is in the home renovation business. Through thick and thin, JBC worked with the Kovacic family to produce what we all agree are extraordinary results. Here are more than a few words from Mr. Kovacic himself about working with JBC to transform his home:

“We are pleased to provide this letter of recommendation to Jedan Brothers as well as Dan and Jesse Klassen. We hired them as our general contractor to build a 1,600 sq.ft addition to our home, which included excavation beside the existing structure for a full basement and two levels above. The project cost exceeded half a million dollars.

Jedan Brothers provided high-quality work and professional management. They distinguished themselves early in the project when they played an instrumental role in the design changes that were necessary to receive the city permit and particularly during the complex excavation phase that was conducted between the existing remaining structure and our neighbour’s house. Perhaps even more important is to inform that Jedan Brothers delivers on their warranty.

Some months after the completion of our expansion, a defect was found with the workmanship of one of the sub-trades. We are pleased to inform that Jedan Brothers corrected the defect at no cost to us. As such we have no hesitation in recommending Jedan Brothers for any expansion project particularly for complex, high-quality expansion projects.”