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All You Need to Know About Building a Basement

Are you looking to gain more space in your home? While many homeowners think about building up and extending outwards, making the most of basement space could be an option to consider. Basement extensions are fast becoming one of the most popular services offered by extension builders in recent years.

Whether your goal is to build a cool cellar and bar where you can entertain friends or you’d like to create an additional bedroom, the possibilities are endless. But, before you start your build it is important to get clued up on everything you need to know about basement projects including planning permission, design ideas and the benefits.

Here’s all you need to know about building a basement.

What is a basement?

A basement is part of a building that is either partially or completely below ground level although this is often used interchangeably with the term cellar. However, a basement is usually seen as a dwelling i.e. a habitable room which is entirely or partly below ground whereas a cellar is only used for storage, heating plant or purposes other than habitation.

In some affluent areas, mega basements have become the new norm including decked out spaces that are bigger than the apartment above! While this trend is very much reserved for the extremely wealthy clientele, it shows just how much you do with your space below ground!

Do basements require planning permission?

The great thing about basements is that you can usually build them without needing planning permission. However, every build is different so it’s important to do your research and follow all required procedures to keep your build on the right side of the law. If you do require planning permission then you may also be asked to complete a basement impact assessment by your local authority – an assessment becoming increasingly mandatory in London.

Do I need a basement impact assessment?

In London where space is restricted, basements are often the best option compared to traditional extensions. However, redevelopment on new or existing properties can have an effect on the surrounding environment including soil, groundwater and more so it’s entirely possible that a basement impact assessment will be requested.

Once you have submitted your planning application, your local authority may come back to you with a basement impact assessment to determine that your plans meet appropriate regulations and that any impacts are justified. The aim of the assessment is to assess whether there is potential for problems to arise concerning groundwater levels, flooding and biodiversity. A professional team should conduct the basement impact assessment based on the specific site and proposed development plans, interpreting constraints and providing solutions.

It’s not just your Local Authority who you will need to appease as there are other regulations and policies that should be met including Building Regulations, Environmental Health standards and Utility Provider requirements. It’s important to hire an experienced team especially if your basement plans are in London as boroughs tend to be more stringent due to space restrictions within the city.

What’s involved in a basement impact assessment?

There are several stages of the assessment process that are needed to create a professional and authentic overview of your project and its potential effects on the neighbouring environment.

The main steps include:

Screening and Scoping Reports – Risk-based reports will be completed to assess the potential impact of the build. Factors such as surface flow and flooding, local groundwater flow, land stability and the structural stability of adjoining/neighbouring properties.

Ground Investigation Reports – Next, ground investigations will be conducted to assess soil and groundwater conditions. Drilling equipment will be used in restricted areas such as within existing basements, light-wells, buildings, low headroom areas, rear gardens and on steep slopes, where conventional equipment cannot be mobilised.

Impact analysis – Finally, we will assess the effects that your basement project will have on ground movements as well as neighbouring structures, slope stability and groundwater flows using specialist analytical software such as Pdisp, Xdisp, SlopeW and ModFlow (three-dimensional finite-difference groundwater modelling). Once the assessment has been completed the findings can be sent to your local authority who will decide whether to authorise the build. Having the assessment does not guarantee that your project will go ahead, however, it does need to be completed if required by your local authority.

At Imperium Engineering, we’re on hand to conduct basement impact assessments (BIA) throughout London, Kent and Essex. Using expert technology and years of experience, we’ll conduct your assessment to the highest standard to keep your project moving along swiftly. Get in touch with us today for more information.

What are the benefits of building a basement?

Basements can be so much more than dingy old rooms as they have a lot of potential. As more and more homeowners choose basements over traditional extensions, this could be a great option for you if you’re looking to gain more space and build your dream home.

Here are the top benefits of building a basement:

More space

Who wouldn’t want more space in their home? Adding a basement is a great way of gaining a playroom, office, games room, snug or even an extra bedroom. Whether you have a growing family or you simply want the benefit of additional space, a basement is the perfect solution and could save you money compared to moving into a bigger home.

Added value

When renovating your home it’s always good to know that you’re adding value, even if you don’t plan on selling it any time soon. Whether the increased value will exceed the additional cost involved in building or converting the basement will depend on a number of factors – e.g. the use that the basement is put to, the quality of finish, and local property prices. However, basements are becoming more sought after and could increase your asking price!

Warmer home

The insulating qualities of basements can make your house warmer! New build basements are constructed using reinforced concrete and this can be used to provide thermal mass which can help to naturally regulate the internal temperature of the building – the thermal mass is improved further when the basement is insulated and waterproofed externally. Since heat rises, a basement could improve the overall energy efficiency of your home!

Make use of all available space

You may not be able to add a loft to your home or extend it but if you have space below ground, put it to good use. Building a basement will add square footage to your property and provide a great solution to those wanting to gain more space.

Imperium Engineering: Experts in Basement Assessments, Engineering and more

If you’re starting a construction project then you need an expert team by your side. Basements can be complicated, especially when it comes to meeting regulations, but the team at Imperium Engineering are here to help.

Our structural engineering consultants offer services in structural engineering, civil engineering, temporary works, scaffolding designs and structural surveys across Kent, London, Essex, Birmingham & Manchester.

Do you need a basement impact assessment? We’ve got you covered! With over 40 years of experience, our experts will provide the quality work that you need so your basement build is not put on hold! Contact us today on 020 3441 7606 for more information.

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