All About Basement Conversions

Added on April 4th 2017

Although loft conversions have been incredibly popular in recent years, converting the basement can be more convenient and cheap. For a start, there’s more room to work with in a basement – no sloping ceiling – your building work isn’t visible from the pavement and it won’t change the external appearance of your property.

Most often, lofts become bedrooms, whereas basements can turn into games rooms, gyms, or even a separate flat complete with bathroom.

The challenges

It’s actually quite easy to convert a basement, as well as relatively cheap. The main problems are the lighting, the heating and the damp-proofing.

The lighting

Many basement conversions use light pipes to get natural light underground. These pipes are installed outdoors and they transfer light via their reflective inner surfaces. There are also window-wells, which are double-glazed windows set into the ground – they are designed to stop dirt or rain getting through, though…

The heating

Basements need electrical heating, really, as there’s no way of getting rid of the emissions from a gas system. You should, ideally, create a separate electrical system for the basement so you don’t overload your main circuits.

The damp

If the basement is cement, then you’ll already be damp-proof; however, if it’s an older basement, with timber, you’ll need the space to be “tanked” or lined with membrane.

If you want to enlarge the basement

You may want more space, or more head height, which involves lowering the floor of the basement. You may even want to make a new basement from scratch, which is where things can get complicated.

Getting permission

If you’re changing your existing basement into your home cinema, then all you’ll need is a change of use notice. If it’s an entirely new basement, you’ll need planning permission and building regulations approval. This is the case even if the new basement isn’t visible from outside.

Just lowering the floor is counted as increasing the size of your property and so you may need approval. Visit planningportal.gov.uk for more information.

Other obstacles

You’ll need to look at the ground beneath your home. Concrete foundations, as well as marshy or sandy ground will present their own challenges and most likely increase the cost of the project.

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