You might think that installing a basement is just the domain of London’s super rich, but is digging one out really beneath you?
If you’ve considered the various ways to add space (and perhaps value) to your property then you may have considered installing a basement in your home. If you’re on the fence about whether a basement would make a good investment then read on for our thoughts on the matter…
What are the Benefits?
Basements offer some unique advantages compared to other extensions you can make to your home. For example, they are often soundproof (great for kids, music or film enthusiasts), they don’t impact on the silhouette of your property or take up external space and, in many cases, they don’t require planning permission. Basement construction is usually allowed under permitted development rights so, as long as you are digging one floor and are within three metres of the back wall, you should be good to go.
Can your basement add value to your property? Possibly. Your mileage for this will vary depending on where you live so if you live in an urban area you will see the most bang for your buck. This only applies for well fitted basements as installations that are cold, damp and dark are unlikely to do much for anybody.
And the Drawbacks?
Digging out basements is messy and expensive work and, even after the space is excavated, you still have to consider, ventilation, waterproofing (or tanking) and drainage systems (which require a yearly maintenance). The work is unlikely to make you popular with your neighbours as well due to the noise from construction and lorries transporting earth and concrete too and from your house. There’s even the possibility that the land or foundations of the house make building a basement impossible.
If you’re seriously considering building a basement then you should weigh up the options ahead of you: for instance, if your loft is already load bearing then it would make sense to build upwards rather down. Of course, this works both ways so if you already have a cellar than a refurbishment or expansion could be on the cards.
It’s also important to think about how the space is being designed and, especially, how it is lit. Are you planning to rely entirely on artificial light or is there a way to let natural light in? If you’re planning to spend a lot of time underground how bothered will you be by the lack of sunlight? Basements are notorious for being cold so you would also have to consider how the room is going to be heated. It’s likely that you would have to consult with an architect before you get to work.
All in all, basements can be rewarding investments for a limited number of people. Most should stick with what they have and consider renovating existing rooms or building extensions but in some cases a property will be crying out for a basement development.