Converting a Basement

The great reasons on why you should convert your basement

Loft conversion is old news and more UK homeowners are "looking down" instead of "looking up" for home extension. Converting your cramp and smelly basement into liveable space is more viable and definitely easier on the pocket than loft conversion.

The first requirement in converting a basement is for you to actually have an existing basement. If you don't have one and you plan on "digging" up one, then that would definitely cost you quite a lot in terms of finances, comfort and time. The second requirement is that the floor to ceiling height should be at least 210mm.

Basement conversion is fast becoming the number one option for house extension because unless you plan on adding a new entrance door from the street or a new window, then there is no need for you to apply for a building permit. Basically, you would only be re-arranging the interior and installing some light fixtures and cable wires. However if you live in a listed building, then you would need to get a planning permission and building permit. Listed buildings are under historical conservation and every construction to be undertaken in a listed building need to be approved by the Building Regulations Office. Formally ask the Building Regulations Office for permission by writing a letter. The office can then formally confirm that you can go ahead with the construction which would be helpful as proof that planning permit was not necessary. Whether you need a permit or not, you still need to follow building regulations of the locality.

Why Convert a Basement?

There are many benefits in converting your basement. First, the value of your home would go up because of the additional space. You can convert the basement to a studio unit rent out the basement to a lodger for extra income. If your house is located in a commercial area, you can go into business yourself and convert the basement into a pub, a club or an "ambiance" restaurant. If you are not into the nitty-gritty of manning your own retail store, put the space up for rent. Second converting a basement would give you the extra space that you need to catch up with your fast changing lifestyle and family needs.

There are many options for a basement conversion. You can convert the basement to an extra bedroom for your growing family. If you have small children you can set the basement up for a playroom. You can put up plastic slides and swings on thick carpet tiles. Set up a nook for quiet time for reading books and maybe for naps. If you have teenagers, you can set up the basement as a study room. Put up shelves from floor to ceiling. Integrate a set or two of study tables and real comfortable computer chairs. Don't forget to provide cable for internet connection or a router for a Wi-Fi set up.

If you want to be "famous" with your children and your children's friends, plunge on ahead with that dream home cinema that you have been considering for some time now. The basement could be the best area for a home cinema because it is naturally dark. You don't have to worry about acoustics too as most basement have reflective sound and you only need to add some absorbent materials like carpeting and acoustical board for great speaker sound.

If you are a wine collector, you can turn your basement into a wine cellar and enjoy of your passions in life. You can turn the basement into your dream bathroom, complete with sauna and Jacuzzi. The basement has possibilities. Let your imagination run!

Things to Consider when Converting a Basement

Aside from the basement floor to ceiling height being a minimum of 210mm, you should also consider the area where your house is located. If your house is sitting on a land that has a high water level, then the basement could be flooded and the amount of money that you will spend to prevent flooding may be too much. Another point to consider is the whether the basement is damp proof or not. A moist basement is not cost-effective, unhealthy and not energy-efficient. The basement should be waterproofed and damp proofed. It should also be well-insulated and well-ventilated. You cannot overemphasize the importance of keeping your basement dry and warm.

It is best to have natural light in the basement. If there are no openings for natural light then you can install light pipes. These pipes are cylindrical tools that are put in the ground for reflective surfaces to gather light outside and channel them to the basement. You can also install window well, a double-paned window on the ground that lets light pass through it to the basement interior.

Heat up the basement by using electric heaters, there is no way to put up a fireplace in the basement as exhaust will be quite a challenge.