In the search for extra space in our homes, many of us are starting to turn to cellars. When previously they were seen as a somewhere to store wine due to the cold and damp, they are now being converted to provide warm and comfortable living spaces. However, to get your cellar into a state that is nice and toasty, you need to think carefully about how you will meet Building Regulations requirements.
Converting your cellar is one of the most expensive jobs you can carry out on your home as compared with conservatories and loft conversions, but they are perfect for adding space without losing garden space. Therefore they are hugely popular. In fact, in 2017 there was a 183% increase in the numbers of planning applications for basement conversions or new basements.
If you want to join the new trend and use your new cellar room as a bedroom, a bathroom, a study or a playroom, you need to apply for a Building Regulation application and ask the Building Control department of your local council for guidance. This is to ensure you meet all the rules – especially around energy efficiency and avoiding damp. So what are the rules?
- Accredited tanking – you need to find a contractor that is accredited to provide tanking solutions and waterproofing. If you decide to use a non-accredited method, you will need insurance to cover it.
- Escape routes – your cellar needs to be a safe place in the event of a fire in another part of the house or in the cellar itself. This may mean that you need fire doors, a window that opens wide enough to escape and fireproofed ceilings to prevent fire moving through the house that way.
- Fire safety – as well as escape routes, your cellar will need fire alarms that are mains operated and interlinked with other parts of the house. A heat detector may also be needed if your basement is now a kitchen.
- Stairs – the cellar stairs may need to be adjusted to ensure a 42-degree pitch with plenty of headroom and handrails.
- Windows – any window into the new basement will need to have guardrails added to prevent people from falling into the well if it is more than 600mm deep.
- Insulation – Your cellar should meet new build standards for insulation including a “U” value of 1.6 W and any insulation added should work with the tanking method used.
As you can see, turning your cellar into a habitable space is a big job, but your building control department is there to help – just click here to get their details…