Compared with many other countries, very few UK homes have basements. This is beginning to change, though, as homeowners looking for extension options are realising that extending down has both practical and financial advantages.
A basement can be used for anything from an entertainment room, gym or office to a self-contained flat for let, and in the right circumstances could add half again to the value of your property.
What Houses Are Suitable for Basements?
The main requirement is sufficient garden space, preferably at the front, for the construction company to excavate from. A basement won’t normally require planning permission, since it’s unlikely to exceed the permitted dimensions, but you’ll need to make sure you won’t fall foul of the Party Wall Act, which protects your neighbours’ property from damage as a result of work you do.
Bear in mind that if you create lightwells or alter the external appearance of the existing building, planning consent will be required.
Most importantly, it’s vital to have the ground properly surveyed to ensure it’s suitable to be excavated. If there are problems, it may well be possible but the cost could be higher.
It is also worth noting that certain central London Local Authorities have very recently amended their guidance seeking to reduce the developmental impact of basements, which may sooner or later become legally binding. Such mooted restrictions are allowing only single storey basements and limiting development to a maximum of 50% of the garden area. There is also likely to be an outright ban on basements under listed buildings in the future
How Is It Done?
Whether you’re having a completely new basement put in or extending an existing small one, the construction company will usually excavate from the front of your house. Scary as it might sound, you probably won’t need to move out during the process, though it will cause some disruption.
The existing walls will almost certainly need to be underpinned, either by traditional methods or by the more modern techniques utilising mini piling which is sometimes quicker and less intrusive, to form retaining sections down to and beyond the new basement floor level.
Possibilities and Advantages
The form your basement takes will depend entirely on how you plan to use it. You may want one big space with no natural light, or you may want a suite of rooms with windows opening onto a light-well. If you’re intending it to be a self-contained flat, it can even have its own outer door with concrete steps up to the surface.
A basement has many advantages over other types of extension, including being exceptionally energy efficient and easily sound-proofed. It also has the potential to give the best return on your investment, adding up to twice the cost to your home’s value.
There are many aspects to the process of excavating a new cellar or extending an old one, and it’s always useful to use a company, like U&M, that’s versatile enough to have it all covered.
So give us a call and find out how we can enhance your home.