Converting your basement

Job description:

Some basement in houses can be very large and allow all possibilities of development: living room, home cinema, games room. However, before converting your basement into rooms to live, you must take into account their particularities that are:

  • Their possible exposure to a significant moisture, or even to water infiltration.
  • Their possible lack of aeration.
  • Their partial or total lack of daylight.
  • Their vaulted forms, which also gives them an incomparable stamp.
  • Their ceilings which can be quite reduced.
To convert a room in your basement, the last three points mean that there is a feeling of narrowness, and you will attempt to correct this impression by adjusting the lighting, typically using halogens standing on the floor and oriented towards the ceiling.

Step by step guide to converting your basement:

1. When converting a basement you need to find out if you can get planning permission by checking with your local authority. The majority of basement conversions don’t require altering the outside of the home therefore planning permission is not required, although it is always important to check just to show that you are complying to building regulations.

2. Check the building regulations. Every element of your basement conversion will be scrutinized by such regulations, whether it is the fire exit routes you have planned, the ventilation systems or just the general structural design. Fortunately, unless you are undertaking a self-build project, your contractor will handle any issues with building regulations.

3. First, carefully examine the walls and the ceiling of the basement An infiltration or abnormal moisture in the cbasement causes visible mold and traces of saltpeter. If this is the case, look on the ground for any presence of high humidity. Before the conversion of your basement don't hesitate to make a few scattered surveys by digging the ground several centimetres deep. If a clear cause is not found, consult a specialist.

4. Once potential moisture problems resolved, decide if interior insulation is necessary. Choose the insulation, heating and electricity solution for the rest of the work. Otherwise, apply a coating based on the condition of the wall. Note that a vaulted basement can be conveniently highlighted by the application of lime plaster or a grouting in case of stonework.

5. Choose the flooring depending on the type of room. Electric heating by convection, for moderate comfort will limit the atmospheric humidity. Not only can developing a new basement reinforced improve the value of your property, however it will produce a totally new subject of space that you just never thought seemed to be achievable.

6. If you are installing a new staircase, you should ensure that there is at least 2m headroom, with the pitch of the staircase being approximately 42 degrees.

Building downwards is also helping the environment, adding to your home instead of moving out and increasing the need for more houses to be built is a great way to reduce you carbon footprint.

The information provided in this guide is to be used strictly for guidance only. We recommend you always read the manufacturer's instructions.