Digging down is a new phenomenon
Not true. Ever since the Victorians started digging coal cellars under their houses, digging down has been an acceptable way of creating extra space. In fact, many period properties in London own the subsoil under the pavement to the middle of the road.
You’re just being greedy
If you can’t afford to move, or don’t want to disrupt your children’s schooling, your property may be bursting at the seams. If you’ve already gone up into the loft, then your only option may be to go into the basement. In fact, most basement developments are for living space, not pools and bowling alleys.
The neighbour’s house will get damaged during the build
This is only true if you choose a cowboy developer who does a poor job. Developing a basement has been likened to open heart surgery, but even that can be a relatively standard procedure if you choose a top surgeon. Converting a basement isn’t cheap, but don’t be tempted to cut corners when it comes to the contractors you use. Work with your neighbours every step of the way and use the very best team you can afford.
Check that your contractors are solvent and adequately insured, meet building standards and are experienced in this type of work before you agree to anything. Take the time to get a range of quotes and personal recommendations to find the best company for the job.
Digging out affects the water table
Most of London floats on a clay raft. Clay neither absorbs water or allows groundwater to flow through it. If you dig a substantial hole in clay, the water table remains unaffected. It’s useful to remember this when negotiating with your neighbours.
Basement developments are not policed well enough
This definitely isn’t true. In fact, councils are creating more and more paperwork for you to deal with before so much as a spadeful of earth is shifted. Developers must jump through numerous hoops and satisfy endless planning requirements before permission is granted. Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea have led the way in tightening up their basement rules and other councils, like Wandsworth, have already signalled that they will do the same.
It’s noisy and disruptive
The obvious answer is that London is a busy city and there’s plenty of existing traffic noise to get upset about. In fact, it’s the householder who will bear the brunt of the inconvenience, with the whole process for a full-scale front to back dig taking around a year.
So is developing your basement worth it? If you’re desperate for extra space in your family home, the answer is definitely yes. A well-developed basement extension isn’t cheap, but it will add value to your property. You can even add value simply by applying for and being granted planning permission, so popular is a converted basement in London. After all, if London can pull off Crossrail, then there are the skills on hand to create some extra living space in your home!