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New Digs: Homeowners maximize living space in Old Palo Alto with basement excavation

Original post made on Aug 29, 2023

While the large home on a corner lot in Old Palo Alto seemed to suit Jenny Shilling’s growing family in 2007, it wasn’t without flaws. To get to the outside pool and patio, one had to meander around a couple of guest bedrooms.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 28, 2023, 6:33 PM

Comments (7)

Posted by Midtown Citizen
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 29, 2023 at 10:28 am

Midtown Citizen is a registered user.

I'm sure all the Preserve Neighborhood Quality of Life people were protesting this obviously massive re-construction project as yet another example of how selfish property owners are willing to destroy their neighbors' peace and solitude just to make their property more livable. I'm sure.

Posted by Bill Thompson
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2023 at 11:53 am

Bill Thompson is a registered user.

Great idea as it adds additional interior square footage increasing the value of the home.

You can't do this in Midtown because most of the homes are built on a slab foundation.

With a crawlspace situated below, older PA homes have this expansion option.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2023 at 3:06 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Who needs 2,600 ADDITIONAL square feet? That's bigger than my entire house for my very comfortable family of four. How were the groundwater, trees, and foundations of nearby homes/properties affected? What's the WHOLE story?

Posted by Environmentalist
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 29, 2023 at 8:44 pm

Environmentalist is a registered user.

All they had to do was take about twenty million gallons of water out of the underground river.

The original designers of Palo Alto were environmentalists and knew this was a huge problem, thus the designed one story buildings in this area primarily. This is an ecological disaster! [Portion removed.]

Posted by Robbie Bosco
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2023 at 8:32 am

Robbie Bosco is a registered user.

• "Who needs 2,600 ADDITIONAL square feet?"
^ To each his/her own. If we didn't have a slab foundation and if our house was worth remodeling, I'd consider doing the same. The additional space has many uses (i.e. bedrooms, a rec room, office etc.) and it is underground instead of building higher.

"All they had to do was take about twenty million gallons of water out of the underground river."
^ No big loss in terms of practical use. We have a sump pump on our property to draw underground water for plant irrigation. The water is not suitable for human consumption or car washing as it contains residual contaminants.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2023 at 11:16 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

If a homeowner wants to build onto their home, they have every right to do so without interference from busybody neighbors. The best way to have a good neighbor is to be a good neighbor. It's sad that so many people don't understand this.

Posted by Rex Shallert
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 12, 2023 at 3:12 pm

Rex Shallert is a registered user.

"If we didn't have a slab foundation and if our house was worth remodeling, I'd consider doing the same."

A second floor can be built below a slab foundation but it is tricky. Since the foundation is on the ground and supports the house itself, special care must be taken if the slab foundation is to serve as the roof of the below-ground floor.

One alternative would be to bore a large hole in the center of the house (through the slab foundation) and escavate enough dirt to build a small reinforced cellar or bomb shelter.

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