Rosie Caley and Marc Stchedroff of Basement Works Ltd. shared their top conversion tips with us at housefixer.co.uk
Decide how the new basement will be used
“The starting point is to work out how the new basement will be used,” Ms Caley said.
Space created by an extension can be designed to be flexible so it can change as the family grows. A basement conversion is best done to improve space and avoid moving to a bigger home.
“Savvy homeowners are asking for high quality conversions that adapt with their lifestyles,” Mr Stchedroff said.
“A playroom and a nanny’s suite, for example, can transform into a teenage den and cinema/games room which later might work just as well as a private annex for an elderly parent.”
Preparation and planning can maximise value for money
The preparation and planning must be done very carefully to avoid misspending money.
A basement conversion is a new space so it is often more economical to add the latest technology rather retrofit it upstairs.
“If you’ve always longed for a cinema screen, surround sound and your music playlists accessed at the touch of a button then now’s your chance,” Mr Stchedroff said.
Specialist basement companies’, such as Basement Works, offer a fixed cost packages which include these optional extras along with underpinning, basement excavation, steel work and screed.
You don’t need an existing cellar
A common myth is that you need an existing cellar to make a basement conversion easier but this is not true.
“To make an existing cellar habitable the floor of an existing cellar will be excavated well below the final finished floor height, so all the perimeter walls still have to be underpinned,” she said.
The excavation will usually need to go down 3.2 metres for a standard room height of 2.7metres which means it makes little difference if there is a cellar or not.
Basements cause less disruption than other work on a house
It is a common misconception that a basement conversion will require disruption inside the home for a prolonged period of time.
“In most circumstances, a basement can be dug underneath a house whilst the occupants remain there,” she said.
“Because we start by digging a light well at the front, and then progress under the house from there, it is possible to not enter the house until the very end, when the staircase and finishes are required to join it with the ground floor.”
Arrange living spaces and bedrooms near light wells
In terms of design living spaces and bedrooms need to be adjacent to a light well so windows can be installed to provide natural light and ventilation.
In that case it is best for the rooms to be at the front or back of the basement conversion floor plan. Ancillary rooms such as a laundry, shower, storage or staircase can be located in the mid-section of the design as they don’t require windows.
Don’t replicate the floor above
“When it comes to thinking about the architectural detailing, in general you do not want to replicate the style of the floor above because this can look horribly pastiche,” she said.
They suggest embracing modern design elements in the basement for the best finished product.
Glass balustrades establish entrance into a new space
To separate the old from the new and create separate spaces glass balustrades can be used.
“A solid oak or walnut staircase with glass balustrades, very simple doors and square-profile molding will signal your entrance to a very different space and establish a new character,” she said.
Angle the staircase so you arrive in the centre of the space
The hallway and placement of the staircase can affect the feeling of the room.
“When you arrive you don’t want to feel as if you are in a basement,” she said.
Angling the staircase or twisting it so that you walk into the room rather than into a solid wall can fix this problem.
“At all costs avoid a design which features a long thin underground tunnel with box rooms leading off it.”
Create the impression of space with a canted hallway
A canted wall to the hallway can create the impression of increasing space, while floor-to-ceiling glass panels move light around.
This will create a feature in the hallway and help with the visual creation of space.
“Sometimes the most spectacular area of an otherwise ordinary home is at its subterranean level – a trend that’s set to continue,” Mr Stchedroff said.