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Looking to introduce an entirely independent new room to your home? Why not consider a basement conversion with its own, exclusive entrance, for purposes such as a home office, gym, or a residential annexe? Before getting the project up and running, there are some serious considerations to make.
Do you need permission? If your North London home already has an underground space that is suitable for conversion from storage (or similar) to a habitable function, planning permission is not normally required as such a change is merely seen as re-purposing. If, however, the space needs alterations – such as lowering the floor level to increase head clearance – local planning authorities are likely to consider the development as an extension and, therefore, ask you to apply for planning permission.
Are there regulations to meet? The structural construction of a basement forms part of the fabric of your home so, naturally, you will want to ensure that any work undertaken is of the highest standards if you aren’t sure, then contact a professional. Whether you are converting an existing basement to a different function or creating a new underground space through excavation, Building Regulations are there to guarantee that minimum standards of safety, energy efficiency and hygiene are met. If, however, you are merely renovating an existing basement and not changing its purpose, the job is exempt from Building Regulation scrutiny.
Why Planning Is Important To take all design details into consideration before any work begins, we recommend that ‘full plans applications’ are made for basement conversions, as opposed to a ‘building notices’ that may result in remedial work being required should local authorities be unsatisfied with the development. You can find additional information on the Government’s Planning Portal for free.
Party Walls are shared by adjacent buildings and, as such, any work that could affect them needs to be agreed by the owners or leaseholders of both properties and any others that adjoin them. This could include: extension, alteration, underpinning, or even excavation near to the wall itself.
Practicality Depending on the nature of the development you are having undertaken, there is a very real possibility you may need to vacate your home while the work is ongoing. For example, if there is no access to the basement from your garden or a neighbouring highway, materials to be removed will have to be taken through the house, making it exceedingly impractical for you to be there while the contractors are doing their work. Consider the kind of job that you are having done. Simple conversions make take just a few weeks to complete. Significant changes to the structure of your house, such as excavation, underpinning and so on, may take a number of months depending on the size of the job.
Is it a worthwhile investment? Everybody’s living and financial circumstances are different, and are certain to affect any decision on whether a basement conversion is a viable expense. In some cases, creating a space underneath your home is the only way to increase the usable square footage of the building – one reason that basement conversions are so popular in North London homes, where opportunities for above-ground alterations are minimal. Consider whether your proposed job is out of practical necessity, to increase the value of your home, or both. Depending on the area in which you live, factors like access, available headroom, and the potential for natural light can significantly effect the value per square metre of a basement conversion. In some areas, however, there is considered to be a ‘ceiling’ value for house prices that, no matter how beautifully converted your basement, is hard to surpass. It can be worth consulting a local estate agent for their opinion before making hard and fast decisions regarding the nature of the basement development to undertake.
At Entire Houze we have been converting basements since our inception and can advise, design and build the right basement conversion for you and your property. All our work is personally supervised by our company directors to ensure it is carried out to a very highest standard. So, whatever your basement conversion needs, we will manage all aspects of the project from the initial planning and design stages through to building work, plumbing, heating, electrical works, insulation and anything else that may be needed.
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