Loft conversions are popular when you want to create an extra bedroom or perhaps a home office, but the space you can create by converting an unused basement or cellar is much more versatile. However, before you start contacting a decent basement company in London you need to establish whether your basement is suitable for conversion.
Let there be light
One of the fundamental considerations when planning a basement conversion is having access to natural light. If you’re lucky, your basement will overlook a basement well or have skylights of some kind. Otherwise you’ll need to investigate options for artificial life – or use the basement for a home cinema.
Deal with damp
Another huge consideration is the presence of damp. If you do have damp in the basement, a conversion is still possible but it will be much more expensive. As a matter of course your basement will need to be entirely tanked, so this can help deal with the recurrence of the issue.
You may find that your basement is a warren of small rooms with low head height. You’ll need a head height of at least 2.4 metres to make the space properly usable, bearing in mind that damp proofing will impact on the dimensions of the room.
If you need to dig out the floor and remove internal walls, your basement will need underpinning, and you must secure a party wall agreement with your neighbours should the worst happen. If you can’t get an agreement, your project may be dead in the water. This will also impact on the cost of conversion, which may put a basement conversion beyond your budget, but check first with a reputable basement company in London that will be able to advise you on the costs involved.
Finally, think about how the basement will join the rest of the house. You’ll need to allow enough space for a staircase that can seamlessly unite your two living spaces and allow ease of access into the basement.
Planning and regulations
You may or may not need planning permission – it’s always best to check first, particularly if you decide to extend further in the future – but you must comply with building regulations. You can find the information you need online at the Office of Public Sector Information.
Is my basement suitable for conversion?
If you have an Edwardian or Victorian property the chances are that you’ll have a basement that is worth converting, and if you have timber suspended floors the work can be done from the outside, meaning the minimum disruption to your home.
But beware, some period properties have very shallow foundations and, without underpinning, the threat of subsidence can be very real. The best thing to do is to talk to your basement contractor and ask them for realistic advice on your basement’s suitability for conversion. Remember, you need to make sure this is a realistic and viable project before you part with any money.