Can I put bedrooms into a basement conversion?

Can I put bedrooms into a basement conversion?

Basement Aug 1

 

Basement conversations are one of the most popular home improvement in London and the South East – especially where such improvements can increase the price of a property, making the extra investment worthwhile. Space has become a premium in the capital and digging down can give you and your family that much needed extra room. It is of course, possible to put a bedroom into a basement conversion. However, when deciding what to do with your basement there are regulations and guidelines to deal with especially when it comes to bedrooms.

Of course, when it comes to planning permission for basement bedrooms, there may be different regulations for different councils. So, always check with your local planning department before your build.

Bedroom natural light

Natural light is important in any bedroom, but it can be difficult to get enough natural light into a basement room. By law, a basement bedroom should have a window that can be opened and used as a fire escape. However, if this window is not bringing in enough light you can opt to for light wells or light shafts as well.

Bedroom ventilation

Building regulations require ventilation to take into account moisture content in the structure and air quality. If a room is considered habitable (i.e a bedroom) then there may be required minimum standards for ventilation. For example, Northampton Council states that rapid ventilation with an opening of 1/20th of the floor area together with controllable background ventilation (8,000mm2) should be provided.

Bedroom fire regulations

All bedrooms in new build properties and extensions (a basement is considered an extension) must have a fire alarm within 7.5m of a bedroom door. Basement bedrooms are also required to have a window that can be opened and should measure no less than 0.33m2, measuring at least 450mm x 450mm. If you don’t have this type of window, then you will need an emergency external door.

Using your basement for staff accommodation

It is possible to use your basement extension space for staff accommodation if needed. However, if you do this you will have to ensure there is adequate natural light and that all fire regulations and ventilation requirements are adhered to.

The last word on basement bedrooms

Regulations and guidelines are important and all builds should adhere to them. However, putting a bedroom in a basement may not always be the best use of the additional space or the most shrewd investments as James Robinson, General Manager at estate agent Lurot Brand told City A.M. “Whatever you do, do not put the primary bedrooms in the basement,” says Robinson. “No-one wants to go downstairs to bed, or put their children to bed in the basement with ducted ventilation.”

If you want to add extra space to your house with a basement conversion contact Simply Basement today!

Can I convert my cellar into a liveable space?

Can I convert my cellar into a liveable space?

 

Can I convert my cellar into a liveable space

Converting an existing cellar into a liveable area can be a cost effective way to add space to your home; especially if you are unable to expand into the loft or build an extension. Building a whole new basement can be an expensive and disruptive endeavour and you will be required to have planning permission. While converting an existing cellar may not require planning permission, it usually takes less time and can be cheaper.

How much does it cost to convert an existing cellar?

According to Real Homes Magazine, a ballpark price of turning existing basement space into a habitable space can cost between £720-£1,800 per square metre. A brand new basement can cost in the region of £1,920-£2,640 per square metre. Of course, these prices are not set in stone, as it depends on the size of your cellar and what you plan on using your basement for. For example, a swimming pool will cost much more than a play room.

Do you need planning permission to convert an existing cellar?

It is unlikely that you will require planning permission to convert an existing cellar into a liveable space., however if the alterations change how it visibly looks from the outside, then planning may be required.  However, it is always advisable to check with your local authority before starting any work. At Simply Basement, we will help guide you through the planning permission process should you need it.

If you plan on converting your basement into a separate property then you will have to seek planning permission. Properties that are situated in conservation areas may need planning permission, especially if you are altering the façade of the house. Again, always check with your local authority.

Building regulations

If you are converting an existing cellar you will have to meet certain building regulations for it to be legally habitable. These regulations include:

  • Achieving sufficient levels of insulation
  • Creating an emergency escape route
  • Having a minimum ceiling height: many Victorian basements do not always meet this, which means you’ll have to lower the floor
  • Ensuring the right structural supports are in place: if any structural work is carried out it will have to be signed off by a building inspector

When budgeting for your cellar conversion you need to take into account the cost of building regulation applications. The cost will depend on the work and what your local council charges. For more information on building regulation applications click here.

If you’re converting an existing cellar will you need to get a party wall agreement?

If you live in a detached house you may not have to get a party wall agreement. However, if you share a wall with your neighbour(s) then you will have to get each of your neighbour’s consent in writing before work commences. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, lays out in law a framework for resolving or preventing disputes in relation to a party, boundary wall or excavations near neighbouring buildings.

To make sure you keep the neighbours onside, speak to them about your plans and listen to their concerns. To ensure minimal complications the correct notices will need to be sent and consent obtained in writing. For more information about keeping good relationships with your neighbours click here.

Waterproofing your cellar

One of the most important jobs that need to be carried out when you are converting an existing cellar space is the waterproofing or tanking of your basement. Basements are naturally damp places, so ensuring damp does not become a problem, some form of waterproofing needs to take place. Tanking is the most common way of waterproofing a subterranean space. The practice can include coating the interior wall with a form of watertight membrane, render or sealant. At Simply Basement, we can advise on the best way of keeping your basement damp free depending on your situation.

Want to gain more space in your London home by converting your existing cellar space? Then contact Simply Basement for a free site survey.

 

Small cellar conversion ideas

Small cellar conversion ideas

Many Georgian, Victorian and even Edwardian houses in London come with a cellar. These subterranean rooms were generally used as coal storage and in grander homes – a cellar or basement would have included a scullery, larder and other service rooms.

Now, with coal fires mostly banned in London and with no need for such rooms as a scullery, most cellars are used for storage or are ignored, meaning they are ripe for development for any homeowner that may want to add extra living space.

It is likely that you will need to dig down a little to create enough height, damp proof the space and secure any exterior walls, including party walls. However, not every conversion will require this; if you share a wall (or walls) with your neighbours, a party wall agreement will have to be drawn up.

There are many ways to use an existing cellar space to help enhance your home. Here are some ideas:

Playroom

Turning space in the cellar into a playroom is a popular way of improving your home. Not only does it mean you can shut the door on all the toys; your kids can make as much noise as they want without disturbing the rest of the house too much.

Teen den

Teens need their own space, so why not turn your unused cellar space into a den for your teen(s) to retreat to. Let their creativity run wild when it comes to decoration; after all it’s their room and it will help to give them a sense of ownership. You could also use big cushions and bean bags to make it as social and comfortable as possible.

Home cinema

Love movies? Then make your own home cinema in your wasted cellar space. Subterranean rooms are ideal for home movie theatres as they let in little light and it leaves you a blank canvas to get the sound just how you want it. Don’t forget to include a big comfortable sofa to relax on.

Extra bathroom and spare bedroom

Having a spare bedroom for guests is always useful. As long as there is a window in the basement, it is possible to use the room as a bedroom, and while you’re there you may as well add an extra bathroom. According to This is Money, an extra bathroom can add £2,500-£6,000 to the value of your home, while an extra bedroom may increase your property price by up to 10%.

Gym/yoga room

If you are looking for a space to dedicate to your body and mind, why not change your cellar into a gym or yoga room? If you have your heart set on a gym, you may need the following:

  • A mirror
  • Plenty of light; either from electricity or from natural light
  • The right equipment for your needs
  • Good flooring; either wood, laminate or rubber

For a yoga room, make sure you de-clutter, choose calming colours and have lighting you can change according to your mood.

Man cave

Last year we ran a survey asking 1,000 UK residents if they could add another room to their home, what it would be. 27% of respondents stated that they wanted a man cave, and what could be more cave-like than a converted cellar? So, grab a drink, put your feet up and enjoy a little space of your own.

Have a cellar you want to convert? Contact Simply Basement today for a free site survey and we may be able to help you enhance your home with a small cellar conversion.

Typical Timeline for a Basement Conversion

Basement Conversion Timeline

In a city, where it can be difficult to extend outwards or upwards, digging down can sometimes be the only option. Make no mistake, a basement conversion is a major undertaking; some families even decide to live elsewhere while the major works take place.

How long a basement conversion will take is dependent on many things, from the type of property to how big and deep you are willing or able to go. At Simply Basement, we like to tackle cellar conversions in a systematic way. We have a three stage process, with some rough time estimates of how long it may take to have a Simply Basement conversion:

Stage 1

The first stage is the planning, design and approval process. We estimate that this should take somewhere between 4 to 6 months, depending on the borough of London that the property is located in.

Gaining planning permission can be the most time-consuming aspect of this stage and it may take a while. We will always ensure that any basement we propose will be in line with the planning guidelines of whichever borough we need to work with.

Stage 2

Once the design has been finalised and planning permission has been approved, it’s time to start with the major building work. Stage 2 will see structural digging, underpinning and tanking (waterproofing) taking place. This will be the most disruptive stage of your basement conversion. We estimate that these essential works usually take between 3 to 5 months.

It is during this stage that some homeowners may decide to move out. Such extensive building work can be noisy, dust filled and messy. However, we always endeavour to be as considerate and leave as little mess as possible at the end of the working day.

Stage 3

By stage 3, the major building works will have been completed; it’s time for the fit out. Depending on the size and complexity of the basement, this stage should take around 2-4 months.

The fit out can be one of the most exciting moments of the build, as you see the process coming together and it starts to look more like the living space you envisioned.

As mentioned above, these time frames are only estimates and the timings might change due to size, complexity or any unforeseen circumstances.

If you want to gain more space in your home with a basement conversion, we conduct free site surveys to determine if a basement conversion is possible on your property!

Contact Simply Basement today!

How to stay onside with the neighbours when undertaking a basement conversion

basement conversion neighbours

Basements conversions in London have been hitting the headlines for mostly the wrong reasons. The majority of these stories involve neighbours falling out over the disruption that basement conversions can cause. The most famous and on-going story is between Foxtons tycoon John Hunt and the French Embassy. They have been locked in a long legal battle due to Hunt wanting to build a mega basement. However, you don’t need to fall out with your neighbours just because you want to gain some more living space. Here is our guide on how to stay onside with the neighbours when undertaking a basement conversion:

Communicate

London is infamous for people not knowing or ever talking to their neighbours; but, getting to know them can be an effective way of keeping them onside, so they don’t lodge objections with the council. Go over and introduce yourself and state what you plan on doing to your property. Maybe bring over something to drink or some tasty treats to help break the ice.

If your schedules don’t quite match then at least drop a letter through their letter box, with the details of the work that will be carried out and some contact details, in case they have further questions.

Party Wall Agreements

When undertaking a basement conversion, you will most likely need a party wall agreement unless your property is totally detached, with no immediate neighbours. This is a legal agreement with your neighbour to commence building work which will affect the wall that is jointly owned. It is highly recommended that you speak to your neighbour in person and don’t just slip a party wall agreement through the letterbox with no explanation. Your neighbour is well within their rights to refuse the notice within 14 days. After this period, the party wall agreement goes into dissent and surveyors will be instructed, which the homeowner have to legally pay for. It may be worth reassuring your neighbour that a party wall agreement is there to help and protect both properties – meaning nothing can be done to the party wall without their permission.

Be considerate

Noise and rubbish are usually the most things complained about when it comes to any kind of home improvement work. It’s worth finding out your neighbours’ schedule and if possible try and work around it. For example, if you have big trucks that may take up their parking spot, try to arrange for them to come when your neighbours are at work, or when you know they will be away.

While it may not be possible for you to always work around them, forewarning them of any particular disruptive works can help to keep neighbourly relations friendly. Forewarning or asking a neighbour if you can use their space (even if you know they are not going to be there) will make them feel considered.

Basement conversions do generate a lot of building waste – especially soil. While it might be impossible to stop any dust, soil or debris from going on to their property, offering to clean it up or footing the bill for it will go a long way – especially if they are vulnerable or infirm.

If you are thinking of getting a London basement conversion, contact Simply Basement today for a free site survey.

Is my property suitable for a basement conversion?

Property basement conversion

London is made up of a mishmash of property styles – ranging from Georgian townhouses to new builds, and for the vast majority of these properties a basement conversion is a possibility. It may even be possible if you own a ground floor flat.

The biggest question you need to ask yourself as a homeowner is – is a basement conversion worth it? Does spending the money required create the space your need and/or add enough value to your home? With property prices as high as they currently are in London, it can make financial sense to undertake a basement conversion – especially when the cost of moving is taken into consideration.

Will a basement add value to my house?

According to property guru Phil Spencer, the average cost of a basement conversion is £300 per square foot; this takes into account both the dig out and the fit out. A map released by Zoopla in 2016, shows a tube map of London with the average price per square foot, the cheapest was Dagenham East at £302 while the most expensive is Knightsbridge at £2,214 per square foot.

The cost of moving is also something you need to think about when weighing up a basement conversion. Based on the average London house price (now standing at £650,000; correct as of March 2017) it will cost almost £30,000 in fees and stamp duty to move.

Can you have a basement conversion if your property is leasehold?

It can be possible to have a basement conversion if your property is leasehold; however, you may have to seek permission from the freeholder first. Some leasehold agreements do state how much land and sub-soil is granted to the leaseholder. Leasehold agreements can be complicated, so it is best to have a legal professional look over the contract before any works are started.

What if my property already has a cellar?

If your property already has a cellar then it is usually possible to have it converted; however, depending on which borough you live in, you may still need to ask for planning permission. For more information on cellar conversion, click here.

Can you have a basement conversion if you have a flat?

It may be possible to have a basement conversion if you have a ground floor flat. However, if your property is leasehold, you will need to check the terms of your lease and you may have to ask the freeholder’s permission. It is also likely that you need to have a party wall agreement drawn up with the owners of any other flats, as well as any adjacent neighbours you share a wall with.

Whether you live in a Victorian terrace, a 1930s detached home or a Georgian townhouse, a basement conversion might be what you need to make your home perfect. Contact Simply Basement today for a free site survey.

London’s latest interior design trends 2017

Londons latest interior design trends 2017

If you are thinking of remodelling your home with a basement conversion, or even the triple conversion – loft, extension and basement – you want to be thinking about what the end product will look like. To help you on your way we have picked out some top trends in interiors for 2017.

Customisation

According to WGSN, a world leading trend forcaster, one of the biggest trends of 2017 will be customisation. This is not just reserved for furniture, but walls and floors too. This links into the trend for many homeowners wanting to customise the layout of their homes with extensions, or basement and loft conversions. When planning your basement, you will need to state if you want to have features such as exposed brick, beams or a particular kind of flooring.

Soft industrial

Soft industrial or industrial luxe is associated with materials such as concrete, marble and cork. These materials give a space texture and character. In a home you might want to use cork or brass to warm the space up; cork walls are now popular in home offices as you can pin anything to them. Brass lamps or light fixtures will help cast a soft glow in your basement, giving that cosy hygge feel. If you want to achieve soft industrial in a basement, expose pipe or steel duct work.

Geometry

Geometry and geometric patterns were popular in 2016, but in 2017 it’s set to be huge. The emphasis will be on sleek lines and unusual shapes, and when it comes to colour, anything goes. If you are a colour fiend go for 70s psychedelic chic, or for a more classic paired down look opt for monochrome.

The natural world

2017 is all about bringing the outside in, and many designers have looked to the tropics to inspire them this year. Fern, palm tree and leaf prints are all the rage for wallpaper, soft furnishings and upholstery. Pot planted ferns, aloe vera and terrariums are perfect for a little splash of greenery in a basement. If you get enough light you may be able to opt for a tropical leaf plant such as a banana plant or palm.

Maps

Maps, especially vintage ones, are now at the height of fashion. When buying a map, consider purchasing a vintage map of your area, where you grew up or somewhere that means something to you. Designers are also creating stencilled maps or interactive maps where you can plot your travels. It’s not just land maps that will be adorning our walls – but subway, transport and even ski area maps too. They are a stylish way of giving a basement space a personal touch and rooting it to the surrounding area.

If you want to customise your space with a basement conversion then contact Simply Basement today for a free site survey.

Basement Style Ideas

5 mega basement conversions in London

Basement rooms can be challenging places when it comes to interior design. You are met with all sorts of challenges, such as a lack of natural light and subterranean rooms can sometimes come across as cold, hard, featureless places. However, with the right lighting, furniture, layout and colour palette, you can create a beautiful cosy basement area that the whole family can enjoy.

Create zones

If you have a basement conversion that includes a large open plan space, you can break this up by creating zones. If you have used your underground space to create an open plan kitchen and living zone, you can use different flooring to define the cooking, eating and living areas; for example, using tiles for the kitchen area and softer flooring for eating and living zones. One of the downsides to open plan spaces is that they can echo and carry noise – so to mitigate this, rugs or carpets can be used. Rugs are also a great way to zone an area.

Lighting

In a basement, where natural light can be scarce, getting the level of artificial light right is important. How you are using your basement will impact the type of lighting you will need. If its main use is for watching films or playing games on a big screen, you will want unobtrusive lighting that can be dimmed. Also, using carefully placed mirrors can help throw light back into a room.

If you have an open plan basement conversion, which you have zoned, you might want to light each area differently. In the kitchen, you will need brighter lights. This can be achieved with spotlights and under-cabinet lighting. Ceiling pendants can be used to highlight features such as your dining room table. For the living space, soft lamps will give the area a warm and cosy feel; and of course, dimmer switches are really useful for open plan areas where you might want to change the mood as the day wears on.

Colour

The type of basement you have and what you use it for will influence the colours you will use. If you have a basement with a dug-out courtyard and plenty of daylight coming in, you might want to keep the colours light and use an accent wall or art to add a splash of colour. If you are using your basement for a cinema, games room or bar then dark, warm, rich colours can be used to create a more den-like feel.

Furnishings

Regardless of your basement layout, you’ll probably want a large cushy sofa with plenty of scatter cushions. This not only makes the place cosy, it can help keep echoing to a minimum. Using traditional materials, such as wood, can give a room a warm and homely feel. If you love colour you can inject bright tones with accessories such as rugs, blankets, ornaments, soft furnishings and art work.

 

From open plan living to man caves or even basement swimming pools, at Simply Basement we create beautiful, practical basement conversions to give you and your family the space your need. Contact us today for a free site survey.

5 mega basement conversions in London

5 mega basement conversions in London

Space is at such a premium in the capital’s swishest postcodes that the only way to get more is to dig down. This has led to a boom in mega basements, also known as iceberg basements. This form of home improvement has become so popular that The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea passed a policy to reduce the size of these basements and to make it tougher to get planning permission, and Westminster is adding a ‘basement tax’ of £8,000 to all builds. From SW1 to SW7 and NW1, we’ve taken a look at London’s most outrageous basement conversions.

Damian Hirst, Regents Park

Artist, entrepreneur and art collector Damien Hirst is currently in the middle of constructing his mega basement. The plans include a 150ft gallery with double height ceilings to display his art collection, which consists of works by Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Picasso, as well as a 25-metre pool and a car park.

Leonard Blavatnik, Kensington Palace Gardens

Leonard Blavatnik, a Ukraine-born American businessman and investor, is believed to have built one of London’s biggest and deepest basements under his mansion in the uber-affluent Kensington Palace Gardens. This gated street was once the centre of the diplomatic community in London and is now known as ‘billionaire’s row.’ Blavatnik’s iceberg basement is said to consist of a pool, gym and a garage to house his collection of cars.

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, is another famous face who has excavated a mega basement under his London home. However, very little information on what he has built is out in the public domain. He joins the long list of celebrities such as Nicole Kidman and Roman Abramovich who have all extended underground.

Stuccoed townhouse in Knightsbridge

Stuccoed townhouse in Knightsbridge

Source: Westminster council

This typical white stuccoed townhouse in Knightsbridge plans on having a two-story basement conversion that will almost take up the entire plot of land. This homeowner wishes to add a pool, gym, sauna, cinema and staff quarters.

Foxtons mega basement in South Kensington

Jon Hunt, the owner of London’s most controversial estate agents, Foxtons, is currently going through a bit of a basement nightmare in leafy South Kensington. Hunt has been embroiled in a planning row with the French embassy for a number of years. In 2008, he was awarded planning permission to create an iceberg basement which would make his property one of the largest and most valuable in London. However, his neighbour, the French Ambassador, launched a legal battle against him. The Ambassador lost.

In response to the case brought against him, Hunt and his wife changed their plans to make a smaller basement. Due to a technicality the planning department rejected this, which means the billionaire can build his mega basement after all. However, due to access issues he and his neighbours, the French embassy and the High Commission of India, are still fighting over the proposed plan. The plans include an infinity pool and an indoor tennis court.

Not all basements need to be iceberg mega basements and the vast majority of the time the planning process is simple and easy. At Simply Basement, we will guide you through the planning process and help you every step of the way. If you would like to add more space to your home with a basement then contact Simply Basement for a free site survey.

5 awesome ideas for a basement man cave

Earlier this year we conducted a survey of 1,000 UK residents asking if they could add another room to their home, what would it be? 27% of respondents came back and said a ‘man cave’, ‘dad pad’ or ‘man crèche.’ In light of these results, we thought we’d find some awesome and unique ideas for creating the ultimate man cave.

Novelty Fridge

A man cave is not a man cave without a fridge to keep the beers cool. So, you might as well get a novelty one such as this.

basement man cave fridge

However, if Star Wars isn’t your thing then there are some other options including keg fridges complete with a beer tap, fridge in the shape of a safe complete with combination lock, stackable fridges, a fridge in the shape of a Tardis or whatever your imagination can come up with.

The mother of all sofas or recliners

This is not something you’re going to find at a DFS sale! Every man cave needs a sofa, a decent recliner, or both. The mother of all sofas needs to be huge, so it can accommodate your friends as well as being long enough for you to stretch out on. Corner sofas are ideal for this.

basement man cave recliner

When it comes to a recliner you need to think about what you are using it for. If it’s to watch the TV then go for a standard recliner, but if it’s for gaming there is a lot you need to think about. Number one, are you a PC gamer or console gamer? If you’re a PC gamer you need a chair that is suited to sitting at desk height and if you’re a console gamer, a rocker style chair that is close to the ground is best. Some even come with speakers and synced vibration support. Alternatively, you can go for something like this.

Cinema screen

basement man cave cinema

Forget a TV and go straight for a cinema screen. To create the ultimate cinema room you need a projector screen, a projector, something comfortable to sit on and access to a wide variety of films or sporting events. To get that dark cinema feel, you may need to install blackout blinds on any windows or skylights. When arranging the seating you need to think about viewing angle; according to home building and renovating, there should be a 35 degree angle between the line of the seated position and the edge of the screen.

Games

Every basement man cave needs some games, whether it’s a pool table or retro arcade games. If you don’t have a large space, then the pool table can double as a dining room table and you can even get a pool table that flips into an air hockey table! When it comes to retro arcade games, no room is complete without a pinball machine and the type of games you played when you were a kid.

If you don’t have room for a pool table and arcade games you could always compromise with an arcade game pool table!

basement man cave pool table

An actual cave complete with a swimming pool

If you are creating a basement man cave why not just go crazy and build a cave complete with a swimming pool like this guy has done? Or you can create a bat cave, complete with a massive movie screen.

basement man cave swimming pool

If you want to create your own unique basement man cave then contact Simply Basement for a free site survey. From design and planning all the way through to completion, you will have your own project manager and our fixed fees will ensure there are no nasty surprises.