For some, having a basement means having valuable storage space. For others, it means having some space that is currently wasted but has the potential to become a valuable addition to their home.
Many people who like the idea of converting their basement never explore it very closely because they think it is going to be expensive. However, turning your basement into a pleasant, livable area doesn’t have to cost the Earth. It is entirely possible to carry out an effective conversion on a budget.
Planning Permission and Regulations
Most people won’t need planning permission to convert their basement. Turning a basement into living space can qualify as a change of use rather than development. If you need to lower the floor in order to increase headroom however, this may require planning permission because it increases the volume of your house. Or, this may come under your “permitted development” rights. If in doubt, check with your local authority.
What will be required of your conversion, regardless of whether it is a simple change of use or not, is approval under building regulations. Make sure to seek guidance before carrying out any significant works, such as anything affecting the walls of your basement, and if in doubt consult a professional.
Floor, Walls, Electricity & Hot Water
Depending on the form of your basement prior to its conversion, you may need to install a new floor or clad the walls in some way in order to ensure that it is safe, practical and pleasant as a living space. The requirements here depend very much on what kind of flooring and walls are already in place. Common sense should get you at least part of the way towards working out what is required, and once again if you have any doubts it is better to consult an expert than to take any risks.
To make your basement into a habitable area, you will need to extend utility supplies into it if they are not there already. At the very least, this is likely to include electricity. It may well also include a water supply of some kind. Even if you have no plans for any other plumbing, you will probably want it to benefit from your heating system. Therefore, if extending your heating leads to pressure problems, you should consider investing in a hot water circulation pump.
Remember that all plumbing, gas or electrical work should be carried out by somebody with the appropriate skills. At the very least, a qualified professional should be called upon to thoroughly check such installations before they are used. You may wish to apply this principle to floors as well to ensure they are sound.
Decorating and Furniture
This is the stage at which you truly turn your basement into a part of your home. It is also the stage at which you have the most freedom in what you do, both in terms of personal tastes and in terms of controlling your budget. You may choose any kind of flooring and wall decoration you like, from cheap yet attractive vinyl floors to luxurious carpets or real wood, and from a simple lick of value paint to opulent designer wallpapers.
The same principle applies when kitting out your new room with whatever furniture you may want it to have. Your options are hugely varied, and you have a lot of choice in how much you want to spend. If you want, you could splash out on expensive designer furniture. If a budget conversion is your goal, however, second-hand furniture can be attractive, functional and very cheap. If you feel you are lacking creative vision check out these case studies from the team over at Basement 2 Rooms.
Written by Jennifer Nixon (@PR_Yoma collaboration)