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What are the pros and cons of basement conversions?

By Maurice Shasha  //  Mon 5th March 2018
What are the pros and cons of basement conversions? This article looks at the positives and negatives of basement conversions and how popular they are among homeowners in central London.
What are the pros and cons of basement conversions? It
It will come as no surprise to anyone to learn the world is running out of many things. Food, water and oil, being but a few. These things are yet to have a major impact on the population of central London, but there is a shortage that is impacting on central London, and that is the lack of living space. This lack of living space has led some homeowners to add extra living areas to their homes instead of selling up and moving to somewhere larger.

A garden area makes it easier to extend and add an extra room to the back of their home. However, those who have little or no garden have to consider building either up or down. Building up is the favourite option, as most houses have a loft or attic which can be converted into an extra room, and some people consider building an extra storey onto their house to provide that extra room.

However, many parts of central London have height restrictions, so this cannot always be an option. If this obstacle does arise, there is only one way to go, and that is down, and this means a basement conversion.

What is a basement conversion?

A basement conversion is when you have an existing basement area you have not been using. This is not the same as a basement excavation - digging down to create a basement. It is more expensive and requires planning permission and adherence to certain building regulations.

Your existing basement has probably been virtually ignored, is dark, possibly damp and has been used to store unwanted furniture and other unwanted items. But converting it can have several benefits. However, there are pros and cons to converting your basement, so we have listed some of them below.

The Pros

The obvious benefit to converting your basement is you are creating more living space, an extra room that can be used for anything you choose, or even a playroom for your children (or a room where teenage children can move into and play their version of music.)

Having a basement converted into living space will be a great benefit when you decide to sell. Prospective buyers will find this extra living space an attractive feature, making your property more profitable and saleable. A converted basement can add up to 10% to the value of your property.

The Cons

Although you may be converting an existing basement or cellar, some of the work will be done outside. This may cause some disruption for your neighbours which can prove hard to remedy. You could also face objections from a neighbour if you share a party wall. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for neighbours to fall out over the disruption, noise and mess which results from construction work.

As basements and cellars are usually below ground level, there could be a problem with lighting. This would mean a dependency on artificial lighting, which will be costly. But the main consideration with basement conversions is making sure the job is done well. The task of converting the basement can be expensive, and you'll want to know that the added value to the property, should you sell it, will be worth it.

Get the right advice

A basement conversion will not require as much work digging a new one, and it may not need you to apply for planning permission and adhere to building regulations. However, it would be wise to check with your local authority to make sure there are no local rules prohibiting you from converting your basement.

And of course, you should make sure the builder you choose is expert in converting basements. Give your builder a concise and detailed brief of what you require, and check their estimate against this brief. This will minimise the potential for problems later on.

Converting your basement will, of course, cost you money. But if you own a property in central London it will surely be money well spent. Adding a large area of living space to your property should increase its market value.

It has been estimated that only 2% of homes in the UK actually have basements that can be converted. But this should not deter you if you do not have a basement to convert from building downward.

We have mentioned this will require planning permission and adherence to multiple building regulations, and will throw up a variety of challenges you may not encounter from a basement conversion, but if you are willing to face these challenges, the result should be worth it financially.

If you're planning a basement conversion or excavating a new one with a view to boosting the market value of your property to sell later on and would like an appraisal, contact us today at Plaza Estates.

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