basement contractor London

Deeper and down – exploiting the space under your home

If you are running out of space, using a basement or cellar can be a great way to create extra space in your home for a whole range of different uses.

We all know the situation. You love your home and its location but you need more space. There’s the loft, of course, but you’re probably already using that. You could build a rear extension but you don’t want to sacrifice any more outdoor space. The answer for increasing numbers of people is to exploit the space beneath their feet.

There are three ways you can approach this. If you have an existing cellar – often found in older properties – a London basement company can convert it into more usable living space. Alternatively you can specify a basement as part of a new-build project. Or you can add a basement to an existing property.

How can you use it?

Most existing basements and cellars are used for nothing more than storage or to house a central heating boiler. But with a bit of work they can easily be made into habitable space. This makes an ideal office or studio for people working from home, a den for teenagers, a home gym or even an extra bedroom. Some people even choose to install a separate entrance to turn the basement into a self-contained bed-sit.

If you do not have an existing cellar you can add one to an existing property. This will involve some work and disruption, although there are modern solutions like pre-fabricated plastic sections that make the job easier. An experienced London basement company will be able to advise you on the best options for your situation.

An issue with any basement is making it waterproof. There are modern ways of handling this, involving the use of membranes behind a stud wall so that water can drain down into a sump from where it’s pumped away. This is easier and cheaper than the older method of sealing with waterproof tanking.

Will I need planning permission?

If you are simply converting an existing basement, the work will usually be covered as a ‘permitted development’. This means you don’t need permission unless your home is a listed building or you live in a conservation area.

There are exceptions, however. If you want to lower the depth of the floor to create more headroom this is usually classed as an extension and permission may well be needed. The same applies if you are adding a new basement.

Whatever you are doing you will have to follow building regulations. This includes standards for things like energy efficiency, ventilation and escape routes. Your local council will be able to advise on the current requirements.

If your house is not detached you also need to consider arrangements for party walls. You will need to inform neighbours of what you are doing and may have to undertake work to ensure that party walls are underpinned and properly secured.