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Digging Deep

Converting an existing cellar or basement into living accommodation can be an option for those who want a larger home, but without the cost of moving. Money is probably better put into actual bricks and mortar than it is into stamp duty, legal fees, estate agency and removal costs!

A basement conversion can add significantly to the value of your home, especially following the pandemic, and can often be created without the need for extensive building works. Older property can be particularly well suited to a basement conversion because of the use of “suspended” timber floors, which can be modified much more easily than modern concrete alternatives. And most of the work can be undertaken without disturbing you in the main body of the house.

Unless you are in a conservation area, you have a listed property, you are enlarging the footprint of the property, or you are simultaneously changing the use of the property, Planning Permission will not normally be required, although you will still have to comply with Building Regulations. These are primarily designed for health and safety reasons to ensure that you provide adequate fire escape routes, damp proofing, ventilation, electrical and water supply and drainage access.

If you intend doing work to a terraced, or end of terrace house, you will probably also need to consider next door’s interests and establish a Party Wall Agreement so that any damage to shared walls are accounted for.

Damp is the obvious issue in converting a cellar and tanking (waterproofing) a room can be expensive. Bear in mind that changes in humidity can sometimes affect other parts of the house, especially the ground floor timbers, which could shrink or expand. Adequate permanent ventilation is vital. Air bricks may be sufficient for this purpose, but extractor fans may be necessary in some cases. Good heating obviously helps, and it may be that your existing boiler is powerful enough to cope with additional radiators downstairs.

And if you are thinking of excavating a cellar that does not already exist…DON’T!

Also, beware that not all property improvements or extensions necessarily add more value than they cost to build. So if you are considering any form of significant improvement to your home, please do ask us to pop round and chat it through first – it could be half an hour very well spent! No charge!

Feel free to reach out to us by calling 01225 707342 or sending us an email here.

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