Basement conversions: free up your living space
Extending downwards can create a cosy living space from that dusty, smelly old cellar. Basement conversions are all the rage in London, and the trend is spreading up North. Why? Because converting your basement can be a practical way to create more shared living space while increasing the value of your home.
6 reasons to convert your basement
- No need to encroach on your garden – you don’t need to sacrifice your lawn, patio or flower beds.
- Practical living – basements are normally closer to other communal areas than your loft is
- Versatile spaces – basements can be transformed into a giant playroom for the kids, a gym, home cinema, recording studio, study or a wine cellar.
- Add up to 30% to your property value – say some experts.
- Create a new income stream – you could create a basement flat – perhaps with its own front door – and rent it out to a lodger, or advertise it on AirBnB.
- No planning permission needed – that’s unless you’re adding a new doorway or digging up the pavement or road outside.
Is my house suitable for a basement conversion?
Should you already have a cellar? Not necessarily. Having an existing cellar does makes the conversion easier, but an extra room can often be built even when there is no existing basement.
Victorian houses, and houses with timber-suspended floors, are ideal for cellar conversions because we can do the work from outside, with minimal disturbance to the occupants on the floor above.
If your house has shallow foundations, you may need to underpin it first before converting the cellar. Underpinning lowers the floor to avoid you bumping your head on the ceiling. With underpinning, we excavate the floor and pour on concrete. And you need planning permission for this.
Obviously another big thing we need to do is protect the room from any leaks and damp, and prevent the causes of this water coming in.
Solving leaks and damp issues first
As the basement is partly below ground, rain water gets drawn into it and often can’t escape easily. And because a basement usually has little direct sunlight, it makes an ideal breeding ground for mould.
Most experts advise that to repair serious damp issues you must work from outside the foundation walls, as well as from the inside. Here are three possible sources of leaks into cellars and basements:
- Rain water seeps from your garden into the basement, and damages the outside walls – you should ensuring your garden slopes away from the house, rather than towards the house, or we can place corrugated iron piping at the base of the foundation walls to divert the water.
- Clogged gutters and downpipes collect pools of water around the corners of the house, which seep into your basement. You must clean and unclog these pipes regularly.
- Ground water may leak into the basement. For this you would need to install a pump to direct the water away from the basement.
What happens next to prevent mould and water issues?
- invest in a dehumidifier – this works a bit like a fridge, cooling the air with a metal coil so that water drains into a catch.
- Include at least one ventilator in the room – fresh air and sunlight fight damp
- check for a history of flooding in your area.
Are you thinking about converting your basement? For practical advice and a quote, contact Ben at The Office: 0161 282 3101