With the average price of a UK home now standing at £225, 995, many homeowners are choosing to dig down and convert their basements instead of moving.
So, if you need an extra bedroom but you can’t afford a pricier property, how about transforming your basement?
Read on, as we guide you through the process.
Planning permission and building regulations
The conversion of an existing basement is normally considered to be a permitted development, so you shouldn’t need planning permission unless your property is listed or in a Conservation Area. However, lowering your basement floor in order to increase the height of the ceiling is treated as an extension, so if you decide to do this you’ll need to reach agreements with your neighbours regarding party walls. Visit the Planning section of our website to find out more.
Whatever your basement conversion involves, you’ll definitely need to comply with building regulations, which are designed to ensure that every conversion meets minimum construction standards. The regulations cover six main areas:
Every floor and wall below ground level needs to be waterproofed in order to stop damp and water from seeping into the structure and affecting your entire house. Exposure to moisture could also affect your family’s health, your furniture and your wall finishes.
Waterproofing your basement involves applying either render or a fixed membrane. Make sure that you choose a basement specialist with experience of using the waterproofing system you’ve chosen and ask them for a British Board of Agreement accreditation certificate to prove that you’ve had the job done.
2. Structural work
If you need to add more support to your basement’s joists, its walls may need to be underpinned and the floor dug deeper. Any structural work should be checked by a building control officer.
3. Fire safety
In case a fire blocks the stairs, you’ll need to provide an alternative escape route from the basement. This is usually a window which is at least 45 cm wide and 45cm high. If you don’t have a window you’ll need an emergency external door instead.
While a small emergency window will allow some fresh air to circulate, you’ll still need to provide some extra ventilation. This can be done by adding airbricks, an extractor fan or a heat recovery unit.
Insulating the floor, walls and windows of your conversion will keep it cosy and improve the energy efficiency of your entire home. Insulation will also keep the noise down, giving you a good night’s sleep!
When it comes to heating the basement, your options include radiators linked to your central heating system, radiant heating systems, electric heaters and ceramic heaters. Check out our blog for more information.
To comply with building regulations any electrical work must be carried out by a professional electrician, who will then give you the appropriate certificate.
Lighting your basement
Every living space needs natural light and there are several ways of introducing this into your basement bedroom. Light wells are the ideal solution, although you can also provide extra vertical lighting via a sun pipe, which will capture sunlight and redirect it into the basement.
Installing a toughened glazed floor in the room above the basement is another excellent way to introduce extra light, especially if you position the glazing below a window.
Alternatively, you could lower the garden level and create a terrace that’s accessible via glazed sliding doors or French windows.
Artificial light also plays an important part in any basement conversion, so we suggest providing three types of light:
- Ambient lighting – this lights a space evenly. Examples include spotlights, ceiling lights, up lighters, pendant lights and wall sconces.
- Task lighting – this provides more focused light for a particular task. Examples include table lamps, desk lamps and wall lights.
- Accent lighting – this draws attention to pictures, photographs or other items you want to highlight. Examples include carefully positioned up lighters, track lighting, wall sconces and mirror lights
Using colour with care can also help to transform your basement from a dark storage space into an attractive bedroom. Avoid colours that are too dark or strong, as these can make spaces feel smaller. Instead, we recommend creating a backdrop of soft serene colours and saving brighter colours for your accessories and soft furnishings.
It’s also worth painting your basement ceiling a slightly lighter colour than the walls, as this will make the ceiling look higher, giving the room a more spacious feel. Use satin paint to reflect any natural light and add a couple of mirrors to bounce the light around the bedroom.
How would you decorate your basement bedroom? We’d love to hear your ideas, so share them below!