Planning Is Key
Unless your basement is a separate unit, you are unlikely to require planning permission to convert into an extra living space. However, if you are going to be excavating to create extra room, then planning permission will be required. This would also apply if you live in a listed building.
Before you begin any work on your basement, it would always be advisable to contact your local planning office to confirm permission and ensure it doesn’t result in any expensive mistakes.
Building regulations will be applicable, and these cover ventilation, underpinning, domestic supplies, ceiling height and fire escape routes.
Getting the Design Right
A basement conversion in London requires a great design before construction can begin. Your needs should be taken into account and your lifestyle considered by the designer. Are you looking at creating an open-plan basement or dividing it into useful rooms according to your current living arrangements?
Take a look at testimonials from previous clients and ask for recommendations from friends. These will all help in getting that initial design right.
What About Costs?
Any reputable firm will be up front about the costs involved and will ensure you have a breakdown of time and materials. If you already have the head height, then converting your basement should cost no more than a loft conversion. The work can get more expensive if you need to lower the floor, increase ceiling height and do underpinning. If you are using a company to convert your basement, then the work will be project-managed from start to finish, and they will take all the extra costs such as moving drains, building regulations, damp-proofing and party-wall surveys into account when quoting for the work.
Things to Consider
As with most building works, things can go wrong and you can run the risk of upsetting your neighbours, so it’s imperative you keep them informed and let them know the time scales of the work.
Things to consider are the dust and noise, particularly as it isn’t unusual to find five or six basement conversions going on at the same time in some wealthy London streets.
Party-wall agreements are drawn up for a reason, and that is to protect the neighbour from any damage to their property or something going wrong. Recent cases have included houses sinking due to little or no underpinning, so always ensure you have one of these in place before commencing work.
It will also come as no surprise that when doing a conversion in London, you will no doubt come across water. It’s known as the upper aquifer and can hamper digging and cause delays.
How Long Will It Take?
This, of course, will depend on the size and complexity of the build, but aim for 12 to 24 weeks for a standard conversion.
Most customers can live in their homes whilst work is being carried out, but be prepared for lots of noise and dirt in the process!