22 Aug Dig a little deeper – FAQs
Sometimes you just want to know the facts. You might still be researching options, you may not be at a stage that warrants a phone call, and maybe you have just a couple more questions that could help you make that final decision on whether or not to go for a new basement.
If this is you, then you are in the right place because we’re about to answer some of the most common questions we receive.
I want to build a basement – where do I start?
Basements are not cheap to construct and therefore your first job is to explore budgets and costs with a specialist contractor such as London Basement. Some of the leading basement contractors offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ where they can offer a design AND build service. However, you may not want to be tied to a contractor at this early stage; in which case you should consider contacting an architect with experience of basements in your area or call us! We really do have unrivalled experienced and offer a fully personalised service – with over 1000 basements designed and implemented in Central London, we know what works.
From where do I get advice about my basement?
The best place for advice is right here, at the Basement Design Studio… but as well as the main basement specialist contractors, there are certain trade bodies such as ASUC and Basement Information Centre as well as Delta and London Basement.
Who do I get to build the basement?
There are numerous builders out there who claim to be basement experts but the reality is there are only a handful of specialist ‘retro-fit’ basement contractors with any pedigree. The key word here is ‘experience’. If you’re really stuck – drop us a line and we’ll be happy to point you in the direction of some of our preferred contractors.
How high can I have my ceilings/ how deep can I go?
Given that basements involve underpinning (lowering) the existing foundations, it’s theoretically possible to have any ceiling height you want. Clearly there are cost implications – the deeper you go, the engineering changes and becomes more costly. A ‘normal’ basement for us is now 2.6m clear floor to ceiling with 2.8m being a nice alternative. For large rooms 3.0m can be considered but much beyond that adds layers of cost that are generally prohibitive on typical residential basements.
Will my basement flood?
It is rare that ground water is so high that it prevents the construction of a basement but in any event, basements are designed to withstand flooding. All of our basements (in wet or dry ground) are equipped with measures to prevent flooding. The cavity drainage membrane Delta will keep the insides dry while a pump system from DELTA/PPS will deal with any water ingress. Pump technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, the most recent innovation – the ALERTMAXX 2 is an intelligent wi-fi connected high water alarm boasting data logging and predictive servicing when coupled with the PPS PumpSecure System.
How do I get light/fresh air into the basement?
It is not just light that is important for basements but natural ventilation too. Light wells are generally considered the best method to achieve this. Light wells vary from small shafts serving a small window to large basement level courtyards served by full height doors with external staircases to garden level. Externally they can be protected by horizontal grilles, sections of walk on glass, glazed balustrades or ornamental railings. Light wells can also act as fire escapes and ground level access.
What can or can’t I do with my basement? What restrictions are there?
The basement shell is essentially an open plan box into which non-loadbearing partitions are erected. Therefore it is possible to create any kind of room to suit your lifestyle; from the obvious (playroom, media room, utility) to the unusual (golf range, cricket pitch, swimming pool). However, certain Boroughs prohibit sleeping accommodation in basements particularly within flood plains.
How difficult is it to get planning?
Planning Consent for basements is becoming more difficult to obtain across all the Boroughs and will only get worse. While the key Boroughs have had robust basement policies in place for a while now, there is a growing requirement for comprehensive reports covering such issues as traffic management, basement impact, hydrology, geology, ground movement analysis, sustainability etc. If you decide that you would like Basement Design Studio to design your basement we can arrange all the necessary reports you require for planning. In addition, some Boroughs now require an independent review of the information provided.
We’ve been doing this for a long time, and they say hindsight is a wonderful thing – 15-20 years ago getting planning consent for basements was much simpler, we still designed and built top quality schemes but there was less legislation to get through. The moral of the story is, get consent now before it becomes even more difficult!