Why Is London Digging Down For Basement Conversion?

Super-basement conversion is the latest trend in London. It is the buzzword today, and builders and construction engineers get calls from everywhere in the city. Not only old constructions, but the owners of newly constructed houses also ask for it. People feel that it not only adds some extra space, but adds a value to the property as well!

Why are people crazy about it?

With the increasing property rates and a limited availability of good homes in the core areas of the city, basement conversions are on in London. If we look at the statistics shared by real estate agents, then the astonishing fact comes out that the basement is the top-most choice while people renovate the house or expand it to fulfill the additional need of space. It is quite obvious because putting money for making over a basement is less than selling out the property and going for a new one. Firstly, there are no properties in the hot-selling areas. Secondly, the costs are just exorbitant. Stamp duty charges, moving costs and price of the new property put together make relocation incredibly expensive.  Converting basement area into a living room is much economic than that. Interestingly, the conversion is quite prominent in other areas like Manchester, Leeds or Scotland, but the most conversions happen in London.

Basement

Property experts also vouch for it. Many experts feel that why should one build up adding one more floor to the house. It is a wise idea to go downwards instead. Contrary to the normal belief it is not a trend in the high-profile localities where people have piles of money to spend. It is a hot cake in the middle or lower-middle income strata also. So-called ‘iceberg house’ is quite popular today. It is the phrase given to basement-converted houses because there is quite a lot space than it appears from outside

Even if it is an internal adjustment, one has to seek approval for it.  If there are minor alterations needed to convert a basement into a living room, authorities may approve it without any objection/amendment. However, conversion in the ‘listed’ buildings is a tough job. Special permissions are required for such houses.

Conversion is a versatile idea

When people convert a basement area into rooms, there are several benefits.

  • When you take out space by extending loft area, it can be used as kid’s bedroom, study rooms or at the most bathrooms (if the sanitary fittings in your house are compatible). A basement conversion, on the other hand, adds floor to your house that can be used multipurpose.
  • With the arrival of a new baby, you need space for playroom or nanny bedroom. There is also a need of an additional bathroom. Since the newly converted area is just below the ground level, it can be used for all the requirements mentioned above. Some people make it a guest room so that there is a little disturbance to the new mom and the newborn baby with the arrival of guests and relatives. If there is an independent entrance along with the internal one, then it maintains the privacy too. However, you need to take safety measures because it is a direct access to your home other than the front door.
  • Basement conversion is quite popular for a personal gym or recreation center. People install Table Tennis or Pool tables, mini theater or prefabricated swimming pools as well. It is a fantastic use of space.

 

If you are living in an old-styled property with timber suspended floors, then the conversion is quite easy for you. Digging from outside is quite easy, and there is a minimum disruption to the existing setup. You have a little inconvenience at the final stage when a new staircase gets constructed. It is the reason more than 90 percent of such houses have converted the basement into a living area.

A few things are important in such houses. Typically, old-fashioned houses do not have a deep foundation. Hence, underpinning is compulsory. Houses that are attached to the adjacent houses need underpinning of the shared foundation. It ensures the safety of other houses.

A few quick points before the work starts!

Basement conversion is a fantastic idea, but you need to be aware of a few points.

  • First of all, seek the permissions from the local authorities. All the subsequent points come after that.
  • Once you get a green signal from the local officials, get the feasibility assessed from a specialist construction engineer or an underpinning firm. It is extremely important!
  • Next, contact the building regulations approving authorities and get the things discussed that are vital from the safety perspective. Fire access path, electrical fittings, sanitation, damp-proofing, and ventilation, etc. are to name a few.
  • What is the height of water table in your property? It is a critical factor whether you should go for basement conversion or not?
  • Contact a realty agent around and check whether you will be able to recover the cost in future or not? In some areas, there is no special consideration for basement converted area while people buy properties.
  • Your neighbors should be assured about the safety of their buildings. Let them come and inspect the proceedings. Sign party wall agreements to avoid disputes in future.
  • Don’t keep many expectations about the light and air circulation because you are constructing in the basement. The rooms will be damper, darker and a little bit suffocating as compared to other areas. It is quite natural and you just can’t help it.

What if there is no basement?

Well, it is not a great idea to go for a basement conversion where there is no basement at all! It is a costly affair. According to engineers, digging a new basement and converting it into a living room is 70% costlier than converting an existing basement.  Moreover, in some cases people need to move out during the construction work. It disrupts life. Hence, recommended when it is inevitable.

About

Having served 16 years in the army Colin re-educated during the early 1990’s including two years at the Camborne School of Mines reading Mineral Surveying and Resource Management achieving a first class Diploma (Dip CSM). This allowed direct entry to the second year at The University of the West of England, Bristol reading Valuation and Estate Management. Training and experience was gained with Exeter City Council Estates Department and Sheperds Chartered Surveyors qualifying as a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in June 2003. Colin set-up the company in May 2009 and covers the complete range of services.

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