U&M Group

Is My Basement Suitable for a Conversion?

Monday, April 18th, 2016 AT 09:46AM

Do you need more living space, but find the cost of moving prohibitive? If you have a cellar that’s only being used to store rubbish instead of get rid of it, there may be potential to use that space for an extra bedroom, a leisure area, or even to park your car.

The question is whether the basement is suitable for conversion.

Damp and Light

Before you can begin plans to convert your basement, it’s vital to establish whether it suffers from damp. Even if the damp is bad, a conversion may still be possible, although it could be expensive. Even a moderate problem will require damp proofing work to be done, and there may be related issues such as rotting wood.

Most basements don’t get enough natural light, although if you’re lucky you may have windows onto a well. If not, the space could be difficult to spend much time in, though for some uses it could be an advantage — a home cinema, for instance. On the other hand, there are ways to use décor and artificial lighting to enhance what natural light there is.

Space and Access

Basement rooms generally need to be a little bigger than elsewhere in the house if they’re not going to feel claustrophobic. This may be a problem if the existing basement space has supporting walls dividing it into small rooms, which can’t be casually taken down.

For practical use, a basement needs a good height, at least 2.4 meters. If your basement ceiling is lower than this, or if you have to sacrifice some height for damp proofing, it may be necessary to dig out a lower floor before the space is usable.

A rickety ladder might have been good enough access for your cellar, but a usable basement needs a solid staircase from inside the house.

Walls and Foundations

If there are supporting walls in your basement that are preventing you from using the space as you want, some may be possible to remove. It’s a major (and probably costly) job, though, and should only be undertaken by expert professionals.

If you’re removing supporting walls or digging down to create more space, this can compromise the foundations. In this case, it may be appropriate to have the building underpinned, perhaps with mini-piles.

For some spaces, the extent and cost of the process might make conversion inappropriate. Then again, there could be ways round the problems. If you get in touch, we’ll be delighted to give you an assessment of your basement’s potential for conversion.