The UK housing market is all about property size, although our homes are some of the smallest in Europe. Any home improvement that allows you to lose a group of noisy teenagers or host a toddlers tea party or your book group with space to spare will make your property more attractive when it goes on the market. As property guru Phil Spencer says, for every £1 he invested in a high-quality basement conversion, £3 was added to the value of his house.
But it isn’t simply size that matters. If your conversion or retrofit basement construction is poorly done or badly designed, it won’t maximise the profit-making potential of the project.
Choosing the right basement company
Thanks to the rise of the so-called mega-basements there are more specialist basement companies in London than ever before. So why is employing the right company crucial? Basement conversion and construction, including underpinning and waterproofing, are extremely complex areas of construction and need to be undertaken by experienced and qualified professionals.
A good basement company will have specific public liability insurance and will employ a specialist waterproofing surveyor. They’ll have extensive experience and will be able to show you case studies of previous projects – if necessary they’ll also be able to put you in touch with previous clients. They’ll ensure your build complies with all relevant building regulations and seek planning permission if necessary. Finally, look for industry-wide recognition of their qualifications, and membership of relevant industry bodies.
Getting the design right
Identifying specialist basement companies in London is only half the job when it comes to adding value, however. If your finished basement isn’t usable or attractive, then it won’t appeal to potential buyers. Your heart may be set on a bar, a pool table and a home cinema but your buyers might need a playroom, home office or a granny/nanny annexe.
Getting the design right is about striking the right balance between your immediate needs and the way you might want to use the space in the future. Will you really use that lap pool and sauna? Or would you be better moving your kitchen downstairs and creating a beautiful entertaining space with a large living room above?
Keep the design as versatile and flexible as you can, and consider ways that you can add natural light, perhaps by extending under the garden. You’ll also need to be clear on how the basement connects to the rest of your home for practical and legal reasons as well as aesthetic ones. A basement conversion or extension will make more sense if it flows with the rest of the accommodation in your property, working with the space you already have.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t create the man cave or spa sanctuary of your dreams in your new basement, just be aware that you may want to change the usage eventually and design accordingly. If you really want to add value, design a room with mass market appeal.