Will Your Basement Damage Our Houses? – Not if the work is being carried out by a properly qualified team who have wide experience of this kind of conversion in London. You need to pick a leading London basement company who can reassure the neighbours that their houses won’t be adversely affected. Don’t forget that London has more expertise in this area than anywhere else in the world. If neighbouring houses were being affected, people would be claiming damages and basement conversions would have stopped. None of these adverse consequences has come about.
What About the Water Table? – As part of the initial survey and feasibility study for the project, many people get a geologist and a structural engineer involved – your neighbours may find this reassuring, especially if you have a report you can show them to allay their fears.
Most of London is built on London Clay – it’s not very absorbent, so it doesn’t hold a lot of water, unlike chalk, which soaks it up like a sponge. And we need to keep a sense of proportion. One basement is not exactly Crossrail, is it?
Surely You Can’t Go Under the Pavement? – Yes, you probably can. In much of London, householders own the ground under the road and pavement – often their rights extend out to the middle of the road. This is a large amount of prime residential footage, currently totally unused. It’s something else to think about.
How Noisy Will It Be? – On the whole, it’s probably not a good idea to do as the Guardian recently advised and tell the neighbours that if they want peace and quiet they should move to Devon. Explain how long the work will take, which bits will be noisiest and how long those phases will last.
And if you have a noisy hobby like drumming, say, you may be able to offer a respite for the neighbours, who will no longer be bothered by the noise once you have a basement to go to.
Can I Convert Mine? – The fact is that after initial resistance, once one householder has forged the way and got through all the planning red tape, others in the same street begin to see things differently. Maybe they come round and see what you’ve done and go away to take another look at their own house. If they’ve already gone into the loft and filled in the side return, the prospect of digging out the basement may begin to seem more of a practical reality.
Councils reacted initially with horror to basement conversions, and neighbours predicted all kinds of structural damage. But as more and more basements have been built, more and more people are seeing it as a practical way to increase their living space. Councils have had to come to terms with the trend and work out pragmatic policies that are fair to everyone – householders and neighbours alike.