Basement Conversions Advice
Basement conversions are increasingly popular as many people are finding that their once neglected, mouldy, damp and dark basement can be transformed into a wonderful cosy living area. Victorian and older-style properties that have timber-suspended floors are the ideal homes for basement coversions, as you can dig from the outside. With most of these older properties, homeowners live in the house while the basement is being converted. The disruption in the house is limited to the last stage when the new staircase and balustrades are fitted.
It is possible to create a basement in a property with a solid floor even if there is not one there already, but it is likely to be much more expensive, as you need joists under the existing solid ground floor as well as underpinning the whole basement. When creating a basement from scratch through a solid floor, you will probably need to move out. The builders will need to dig down through the front room of the house, so most people tend to move out unless they can stand living in the back of the house while the work is going on. In this situation it is important to get an underpinning firm/specialist building firm to assess feasibility or cost of the project before you go ahead with it.
With all basement conversions it is worth checking the water table height in your property before you start. The key to doing this job properly is to make absolutely sure everything is waterproof. In general there are two main methods used for waterproof an existing, underground basement these are - membranes or structural waterproofing (tanking).
The membrane system is probably the easiest to install and consists of linning the basement with waterproof membranes, a cavity is left between the original wall and the membrane to allow any water to flow down into specially constructed drainage channels and sumps in the floor of the basement. The water is then silently pumped away. The membrane is fixed to the original sound wall surfaces, usually with treated battens or other framing systems, on to which plasterboard can be fixed. This can then be decorated like any normal room. Simple, effective, completely safe and much less expensive than you think.Cavity drain membranes are quick to install, light, insulative and effective way of dealing with waterproofing your basement.
Tanking (Structural Waterproofing)
Another way of waterproofing the room is by 'tanking', or lining the room with a metal skin - that can be plastered over later - to make the newly created space impermeable to water.
The Basement Development Group offers lists of specialist contractors for drainage, tunnelling, waterproofing, underpinning and finishing work on basement conversions.
Further details about Structural Waterproofing can be found on the Structural Waterproofing page of this site.
Making a Plan
As with any home build, you will need to create a floor plan before you start doing anything. Be sure to include where the exisiting walls and stairs are as well as any walls or doorways you want to add to the space. If you plan to divide the existing space into smaller rooms, then don't forget to include a hallway. Most hallways are at least three feet across. Also take time to consider where your new lighting and electricity sockets are to be placed.
When your heating and ventilation systems are sorted out, you can decide just what type of flooring you would like to have. The is a large variety available carpet, tiles, vinyl or wooden.
Why not visit our resources page to find some details about some useful websites which might help you on your project. House Conversion Resources.