Got 3 quotes for underpinning 600 square feet of raw basement space. Having done research on both Homestars and On-line regarding underpinning vs. benching. 2 Quotes with mix of underpinning and benching but for only 400 square feet of basement at 43,000 and up. True North's Otto came one evening to estimate. I asked if the house had footings under floor to do benching...he thought not, told me to do couple of test holes over next couple of days...said to him, "hold on, do it right now!" grabbed a wrench bar and smashed through 1917 built floor and discovered 4 and 1/2" footings in and same down. "Well now!" said Otto, "we can do benching no problem, 8" in and give you 8" down". True North had a quick window of opportunity and I just went ahead and signed the boys on. At 18Ks (+ 3Ks for plumbing + Taxes) for benching, it was a bargain compared to underpinning. Daniel came in and introduced his crew, Crew Lead Josh, assistant Josh, helpers Joel and some other J-named fellaws...They start digging down and low and behold I have Jurrassic Beach sand below the floor instead of the usual soil or clay. In fact the sand is so fine and dry, like caribean beach sand, that 8" in and 8" down will not allow for safe and proper support of basement walls; Daniel and Otto suggest we go 1 foot in and 1 down to gain an overall 6" and a bit of extra height after floor is poured. Otto even mentioned that they could not have underpinned with the kind of sand I had there. So - Caveat Emptor - buyer beware - know ahead of time if benching rather than underpinning is right for you. Benching gives you smaller usable space but adding a higher framing behind where sofa will be, eliminates wasted bench space as that now becomes a shelf for lamps, photos, books, etc. The Main Bulkhead for heating ducts marries and frames one wall where TV will be placed, creative solutions abound when you bench a basement. We, through our creative talent Mike at Sonoma, made our space interesting and very much functional. The crew at True North were hard working, clean and efficient. That work is all about grunt and sweat as so much material was removed through a tiny side window using wheelbarrows and buckets. The crew are terrific. In under three weeks, I had a brand new bare bones basement. Dan and Josh returned recently to do a bit of brick-work, sealing a window. As Otto said once to me, we've done over a hundred basements and each and every one of them is unpredictable and will serve up a surprise curve-ball. Mine was the fine beach sand that lay underneath the basement floor; had the walls not been in such good shape (1917 poured concrete walls on footings to just above ground, then double brick on up) other surprises would have complicated matters. I recommend benching, if all you need is to gain a few inches of height, or a mix, as long as you pre-plan the divisions in your basement space. Thank you Daniel, Otto, Josh and the gang...really nice work!