Basement Extensions – the challenges

Basement conversions – we’ve all read about them and heard the horror stories of houses collapsing due to cowboy basement converters and the controversial super-basement boom. Well you won’t hear any horror stories from us as we know what works, unless you ask about the “planning system” – it’s definitely getting tougher to get planning permission for basement extensions as local authorities tighten the regulation of digging under properties. We’ll take a look at a few of the challenges of digging down to create some more space and add value.

Digging up profit.

Depending on the market rates we estimate that by spending £500 per square foot on building a basement, you could yield as much as £2,000 per square foot at the point of sale. It’s a great way to increase the longevity of your life in that property by creating useable living space that might save you from having to move house altogether.

However, on occasion basement extensions have been met with some protest – usually by neighbours. Digging out and converting a basement is a major undertaking and can be a little disruptive to neighbouring properties. While this disruption is temporary and every effort is made to reduce it, people can get quite upset when a skip and hoarding appears. However, we have had experiences of protesting neighbours calling us up to enquire about having a basement conversion themselves once they’ve seen the finished outcome.

Planning permission

Historically, not all basement conversions required planning permission – however, with changes to legislation and local authorities tightening the rules, any work to a space under your property will require some form of planning consent.

Planning permission is getting harder to obtain. Many local authorities require multiple reports and tests as part of the application process. You can find more details of the kind of reports that are required on our services page. So whether you live in a London townhouse, a listed building or a conservation area we can help you get clarity on your basement feasibility.

Party walls

If the property is a terraced, semi-detached house, or even detached (if within 3 metres of neighbouring structures) you may well be excavating or building near your neighbours’ walls, in which case you must be sure to comply with the Party Wall Act 1996. The Act makes a number of very clear stipulations so if you are in any doubt we recommend you consult the Act itself or contact us BEFORE you start any work.

Building control

Whatever you build you will always be beholding to Building Regulations – whether you require planning permission of not. Building Regulations are different to planning permission as they ensure that buildings are safe, energy efficient and conform to building standards. When you come to sell the property any potential buyer will insist on seeing the Building Regulation Completion Certificate. Quite often a sale can depend heavily on this document so don’t cut corners.

There are more pitfalls and obstacles to planning/designing and building a basement than we could fit into one blog article. It is important not to take a project like this lightly and make sure that you use qualified, experienced experts to undertake the work. After all, a badly designed and built basement can, not only put your most valuable asset at risk, but those around you too. Don’t become a horror story in the Daily Mail.

If you would like to speak about having a basement designed to the highest standard you should contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to see the kind of work we have produced.

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