If you take a look at recent approved planning applications across London, you’ll find that basements are a part of nearly all of them – even when an old building is being demolished, and a new one built in its place, the new one has been designed from scratch to have at least one or more basement levels.
This shows the extent to which Londoners and others are now seeing the potential of the space beneath their feet. But while lots of people have thought about doing it, many have a level of concern that holds them back. Often this centres around relationships with neighbours. People may have good relationships with people in their street, perhaps socialising together, or having children that attend the same school. They don’t want to make everyone’s lives a misery for six months and to become a pariah in their neighbourhood.
Choose a considerate contractor
Poor relationships with neighbours during a basement project are often the result of people using contractors who are only interested in the money, and don’t care how much inconvenience they cause to people living in the street. However, there is a way to avoid this, or at least to show your neighbours that you have chosen a company that is seriously committed to minimising noise, mess and disruption for the adjoining and surrounding properties.
You can do this by selecting a company which is registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme. Companies in the scheme agree to abide by a code of considerate practice for construction projects. They are monitored by inspectors to ensure that they are achieving compliance with the scheme. The best companies, people like Noble Structures, who go the extra mile and don’t just do the minimum, are awarded a “Performance beyond compliance” certificate.
The five considerate constructor criteria
To qualify, companies need to show that they:
1. Care about appearance
2. Respect the community
3. Care about the environment
4. Secure everybody’s safety
5. Value their workforce
Respect for the community
To focus on worries about neighbours then, a Considerate Constructor company pledges that they will inform, respect and show courtesy to anyone affected by the work. Neighbours may immediately object to the impact on parking for example – if your construction partner is in the scheme, they will seek to minimise the effect that deliveries, work or parking will have on the area. The firm pledges to support and contribute to the local community and economy. And lastly, they’ll work to ensure that they leave a positive and lasting reputation.
The fact that you’ve engaged a company with this kind of attitude may go a long way towards allaying your neighbours’ fears from the outset. It will demonstrate to them in a practical way, that you are not simply concerned with your own property, but have a responsible attitude to the community as a whole, and want to do the right thing.