A Guide To Digging Down

Living room. TV room in basement.

If you live in a densely populated area such as London where many homes, even those in the luxury bracket do not have the space to build out or permission to build up, you may be struggling to see how you could get more space withing your home.

However, moving house may not be the only option you have. In fact, many homeowners have found a solution by turning to digging down.

A rise in the basement extension

Seven London boroughs (Camden, Hammersmith, Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Wandsworth) are responsible for almost 5,000 planning approvals for basement room creation over ten years to 2017. The majority of which were standard single-story excavations.

White painted basement dining room

However, some gave the equivalent large space of a two-storey construction and around 2.5% were ‘mega’ with a volume equivalent to three storeys or deeper.

Where you have basement space already this can simplify matters a little, however, when you don’t, digging down to create a new underground room is something many are turning to for extra space.

The benefits of digging down

For both wealthy and more modest homeowners, this is often the only choice when you don’t want to move.  The good news is it will certainly add value to your home and choosing to use revolutionary plastic K-Form concrete shuttering will make laying the concrete exceptionally quick and easy, saving on both cost and time.

Why do people do it?

People opt to dig down for so many reasons, to add extra living space, further bedrooms or living space for growing families, or to add a touch of luxury with many spaces having swimming pools, gyms, cinemas and games rooms providing social and exercise space without the need to leave home. Some families have turned the space under their home into private accommodation for elderly parents or for staff who help them run their daily lives to live on site.  

What’s involved?

Obviously, it is not without cost and some disruption to daily life and can be pretty disruptive to the area around your home, but the result will certainly be worth it. It could, after all, be your only solution when you don’t want to move. Costs will vary depending on the full extent of the work involved. 

Indoors swimming pool in basement

You need to factor in the cost of foundations, waterproofing, shoring walls and the process can take from 3-6 months depending on the complexity of the work, site access and other factors.  Planning permission rigours will also play a part in how long and costly the process to bring you a delightful new space takes.

This may seem daunting, but with the opportunity for spectacular results without ruining the aesthetics of your existing home or cutting into valuable garden or outdoor space, upgrading an existing cellar or digging out a new purpose-built room is a choice many are making that generally adds more to the property value than the cost of the build.

I have a basement – is it suitable?

You may have a hole under your home that is ripe for conversion, but often they have no damp proofing, making them suitable only for storage without additional work. You will need to arrange an inspection to determine the level of work required, such as shoring up your existing home as space may need to be deepened to provide a suitable ceiling height. 

Basement conversion

You may need to improve foundations, waterproof and build to a standard that meets building regulations and the extent that planning permission is required.  If you are digging down with no existing cellar again you will need to ensure that builders with the experience to create underground rooms are employed as they present different problems to those above ground more traditional extensions.

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