If you are thinking to work on a basement conversion here is some information you need to know.
Traditionally, cellars were used to store food or wine due to the low temperature. Cellars were basically used as a cold room storage space. Today, the cellar is that dark, damp and unwelcoming space, where we store old furniture, tools or boxes with Christmas decorations. However, the cellar has a huge potential. This room can become a living room for the whole family to relax, a home cinema, an office or maybe even a gym as part of your home improvement project.
Below you have a complete guide that you can take into account in arranging and decorating a modern basement.
What works are needed to arrange a basement conversion?
The waterproofing of the basement is probably the most important aspect in arranging a basement conversion. Regardless of its destination, the basement must be sealed to prevent moisture from entering.
Waterproofing is applied both in the construction phase of the cellar and later, through waterproofing sets (strips or boards). The most commonly recommended waterproofing materials are the different types of bituminous membranes on the market. You can use a Moisture resistant shielding membrane, 400 microns, 2 m x 20 m.
You will need to apply the waterproofing materials directly over the walls and the floor (we are talking about liquid waterproofing, membranes, asphalt/bitumen cards and waterproofing screeds, respectively). Multiple layers are recommended to cope with high hydrostatic pressure.
The waterproofing of foundations and basements is a measure to prevent infiltrations that can damage both the electrical systems in the basement and the objects stored in this space.
- Choosing adhesives is another important step. In floor and wall covering, you can choose mineral binders such as cement, dispersed or based on reactive resins.
Cement-based adhesives are usually used. They have a normal hardening, and, for basement conversion, you can choose types of cement with superior performance (for example, cement with increased adhesion); these things are mentioned on the package.
If you want to put stone or ceramic on the walls, you can opt for low-slip adhesives. As a rule, flexible adhesives are preferred in the basement conversion. It is essential to use the correct adhesives, otherwise you risk compromising the plating and falling tiles, increasing costs.
For a rustic-style cellar, you can opt for materials such as wood and natural stone. They can be complemented, on the decorative side, by plants and natural fibre fabrics. As there is a risk that the humidity will be slightly higher than in the rest of the house, it is advisable to use treated wood and stone, so that these materials have a long life. In the cellar conversion, wood can be used for wall cladding, furniture or to create various ornaments.
As for the stone, it can be used for floors or walls. You can choose decorative natural stone, river stone or slate stone. For an elegant look, you can opt for a few marble details. The recommended colours are white, grey or cream, which slightly increase the space, without giving a gloomy atmosphere.
- Light is another thing to consider. Building the basement from scratch allows you more flexibility, because you can think from the beginning of the existence of windows to facilitate the penetration of natural light. The location of lighting fixtures must also be considered. Depending on the destination of the cellar, the lighting can be discreet, if you arrange a living room or a home cinema, generous, if you arrange a workshop, and local, in the case of an office.
The dimensions of the cellar matter depending on its destination when you consider it for a cellar conversion. For a wine cellar storage space, the foundation must be at least four meters deep. If you want to arrange a cellar conversion into a living room (bedroom, games room, etc.), the height of the cellar should be about two meters.
- Ventilation. You need to take ventilation into consideration when planning a cellar conversion project. Air quality is extremely important, especially in dark and humid environments such as basements. The main idea would be to have a window that can provide you with natural ventilation. If you do not have an opening to the outside, it is essential to opt for a split air conditioning system.
- Thermal insulation and sound insulation : in summer the cool basement can be an ideal place to relax, but during winter it would be a major inconvenience. Make sure that your basement conversion project includes an efficient thermal insulation on both the walls and the floor. Also pay attention so that the noises in the house do not reach you and install sound insulation to the ceiling as well.
Basement conversion ideas:
The existence of a basement makes you the lucky owner of an extra space that you can arrange as you wish. Think about the needs of the family and choose the best arrangement. Here are some ideas for arranging the basement.
Converting basement into bedroom
One of the interesting and bold ideas is choose to do is converting basement into bedroom. The reason? The living room should be an easily accessible room, and the kitchen in the basement could make the transport of food to the dining room becoming a chore. A bedroom in the basement can become a quiet place where you can retire or where you can accommodate your guests who stay overnight. Take good care of waterproofing, thermal insulation and sound insulation. The last thing you want would be a cold bedroom with high humidity where you can hear everything that happens in the house.
Solid wood floors are not recommended when converting basement into bedroom because there is a risk that variations in temperature and humidity (in case they reappear) will damage the wood. Laminate floors, tiles and carpets are good suggestions. In addition, you can also use carpets as different accents in the arrangement – however, avoid wool.
Pay attention to where you place the furniture. Place your bed next to one of the interior walls, because the exterior walls can change their temperature, so you risk feeling cold during the winter, when you stay in bed.
Converting basement to living space
When you are thinking about converting basement to living space, you probably wonder “ How would the living room look like in the basement?” It will surely be spacious and will create an extra comfort compared to the classic living room at home which everyone has. You can use parquet or matte tiles in warm colours.
To create a welcoming atmosphere, you can add a carpet in front of the sofa, a coffee table and a few armchairs. The choice of TV size should be made according to the size of the room.
This generous living space can become a room where you spend time with family or friends. In terms of decoration, you can opt for a relaxing furniture (sofa, corner couch, armchair, coffee table, etc.). One thing to keep in mind, though, is lighting. If you do not have enough natural light, make sure you install enough lighting systems so that the time spent is pleasant. Don’t forget the accessories: opt for photos and / or paintings, some natural or plastic plants and a chandelier with an unusual pattern.
Cellar conversion into a winery
If you want to start a wine collection, the winery can be an option for arranging a cellar conversion. Such a room can be designed in a rustic or elegant style, the gaze immediately falling on the shelves for wine bottles.
To create that authentic atmosphere, you can include, in addition to shelves and bottle holders, barrels, wooden beams or an old chandelier, depending on the space you have available. The floor can be made of stone, and for the walls, you can also opt for stone or brick or wood treated against moisture and fungi.
In setting up a modern winery, you have a little more freedom. You can paint the walls white, and you can display your bottles in the most visible place, where they will be lit by spotlights embedded in the ceiling. To highlight certain areas, you can install light bulbs with different light intensities.
In addition to the place for storing bottles, you can also set up a relaxation area, where you can have a drink with friends or where you can organize a wine tasting. In this sense, you can choose a sofa with armchairs or just a table and a few chairs.
A basement bar? Why not!
If you are passionate about drinks in general, and not just wines, you can set up a basement conversion into a bar. Wood is recommended in the arrangement, and you can cover the walls with panelling. On the wall behind the bar you can place the drinks on hanging shelves. To create the impression of space, you can put a mirror on one of the walls.
If your budget allows, you can even create a relaxation and good cheer area. You can install a pool table or dart board on one of the walls to create that bar atmosphere. For extra originality, you can think of a name for your basement conversion into a bar.
Turn your basement into an office
Turning your basement into an office will suit you perfectly if you work from home or simply if you want to spend some of your free time on a project you have been thinking about for some time. It will give you a quiet corner away from the hustle and bustle of the house. Choose, first, the essential objects: the desk and the office chair, the pieces of furniture with shelves and drawers for folders, papers, markers, staples, business cards, etc. Don’t forget the lighting fixtures. They must provide white light, conducive to productivity.
For work breaks, you can arrange a relaxing corner with an armchair or sofa and a coffee table.
What about a pantry?
Making a pantry from your cellar will reduce your time spent shopping. Here you can store non-perishable food, spices, drinks, bottles of oil, flour, pasta, etc. You can opt for simple and high shelves or for suspended pieces of furniture. For extra elegance, you can build the shelves directly in the wall.
An efficient organization of space is vital to finding everything you need in the shortest possible time. In this sense, you can reserve certain shelves only for certain categories of products or you can put large labels, easy to see.
Or a workspace?
To free up the garage, you can arrange a small workshop in the cellar. Of course you will need more shelves, for storing tools, and a work table.
A hanging panel can also be useful for organizing tools. Lighting must be done by cold light bulbs and luminaires. At the work table, you can mount a strong lamp or a few LEDs fixed above the workspace. Don’t forget the sockets either. Choose at least 2-3 sockets and a few quality power extension cords, so you can use the tools safely.
Make your own gym
The cellar can be ideal for arranging a fitness room. When planning basement conversion into a gym, you can cover one of the walls with a mirror, and the lighting system must be white and strong light. You can mount a few spots on the ceiling.
To maintain an optimal temperature, you will need an air conditioning system or an air conditioner. The floor finishes can be made of laminate flooring, for extra comfort. You can finish the walls with waterproofing materials, which you can paint in shades of white.
Depending on your favourite activities, you will have to invest in mattresses, fitness balls and/or massive running equipment, lifting weights, etc.
Love playing games?
Basement conversion into a game room can be done for the whole family, from small to large, maybe even for friends. You will need a large TV, a game console, a sound system and a wide range of games. Don’t forget the sockets, but also the special socket for the internet cable; the WiFi may have interruptions in the cellar, so a classic connection will be required.
Next, you will need a few shelves to store your game collection, and a comfortable sofa. If space allows, you can also arrange a ping-pong, fusball or billiard table. Board games can be added, which will make you spend hours in the game room.
Big family? Do the laundry in the cellar!
To free up more space in the house, you can leave the basement for the laundry and dryer. In addition to the washing machine, you can add laundry baskets to sort the clothes according to their colour or material and clothing racks for drying.
You can even install an ironing board on one of the walls, to be unfolded only when you need it. After ironing shirts, dresses or other sensitive textiles, you can fold it on the wall again, so as not to take up space.
Make a cinema at home!
You can have in mind a basement conversion into a home cinema if you are a big fan of movies and you would like to create the cinema experience at home. Depending on your preferences, you can choose a large flat screen or even a projector to watch your favourite movies.
For extra comfort, choose fluffy armchairs or a generous sofa.
Do not forget about snacks either: you can also install a popcorn maker and you’re ready to watch. The cellar can become a real home cinema, where you will want to spend as much time as possible.
Tips and tricks for small basement conversion
While some basements are large enough to accommodate both a bedroom and a bathroom, others are small in size. So, you will have to use everything it is possible to make the bedroom look more spacious and sometimes taller. In addition to the light colours in the arrangement, you can use a wallpaper with vertical stripes for one of the walls, for the optical illusion of a higher room. Don’t forget the mirrors – the reflections give visual complexity.
Do I need a building warrant when planning a basement conversion?
Basement conversion or cellar conversion into a living space might require a building warrant. The building warrant is needed even if the project only involves an alteration of an already existing basement or cellar.
According to basement conversion building regulations, works usually cover areas such as structure, partitioning (repartitioning) of non-load bearing walls, ceiling height, foundation, ventilation, fire escape routes, waterproofing, dampness and mold proofing, electrical wiring (rewiring), heating systems and water supplies.
In most cases, converting an existing residential cellar or basement into a living space won’t require building warrant or planning permission as long as it is not turned into a separate unit of the existing house or unless its main usage is significantly changed.
Also, a building warrant won’t be required if the basement structure, foundation and structure walls are not changed or altered under any circumstances.
However, you might have to apply for the building warrant if your basement conversion project will need lowering the floor or you would like to extend your cellar beyond the boundaries of the existing house (building).
A building warrant might also be needed if a light well is added, which alters the external appearance of the property.
If you are planning a basement conversion project, it’s highly recommended to contact a structural engineer – Alpha Business Contractors Ltd can recommend one! He will design and do the necessary calculations of the structural work that will hold and support your home. Also, you should employ an architect – Alpha Business Contractors Ltd can connect you with experienced local architects, who will do the work.
The architect will design the new layout of the basement conversion and will also take care of many aspects and details that are important in this kind of basement conversion projects. In addition to these calculations and design aspects of the project, the architect will contact your local council or planning authority on your behalf. That will save you lots of time and worries.
How long does a basement conversion take?
A basemnet conversion might take between 8 to 20 weeks. The project time schedule depends on its complexity, property area, additional digging down, insulation (waterproofing, heat insulation, sound proof insulation), ventilation systems, installing stairs, installing pipes, rewiring.
If you live in a crowded city area, it can be difficult to extend your property outwards or upwards, and doing a basement conversion or digging down might sometimes be the only option.
Once you found a reliable contractor that you want to assign the work to, you are ready to start the planning and design stage. This first step of the project might be time consumming, between 4 to 6 months because you are supposed to get your building warrant approved. This time schedule depends on the City Council of area you live in, the complexity of the project to be approved and if any claims might be entitled to be raised by your property neighbours. It is the longest stage of the conversion project.
A professional basement buiding contractor will be responsible for the compliance with building regulations. The building contractor you decide to employ for your conversion project will develop a project design that suits best to your needs and requirements and also a design which is the most likely to be approved. This will save your time and efforts.
We would suggest that it might be beneficial to try to talk to your neighbours before starting the basement conversion project. Try and find out their opinions and also answer any of their questions. This is fair and also they will be less tempted to raise isuues and objections that could slow the process down.
When you got your building warrant in place, you can start working on your project. This 2nd stage is the execution phase and can take from 6 up to 20 weeks. If excavating is needed, then the project involves concrete foundation reinforcement and strenghtening of the walls. This might take 2 weeks for the concrete foundation reinforcement and another 2-3 weeks to strenghten the walls.
Being in direct contact with the surrounding soil and being permanently exposed to moisture, mold and dampness, the basement – or basements in general – from a residential point of view, can be harmful to human health. The first need for an acceptable standard of living in basements is to transform them into dry places. Thus, planning and designing the basement insulation is very important in this kind of project and can also take a couple of weeks.
Social distancing and COVID-19 also has unsuspected advantages, and among them is the attention we can pay to certain arrangements and refurbishments of the house. We also had an extra time to think and plan our homes renovations. If your home needs improvements and alterations or if you are in the phase of arranging a newly purchased property, it is worth paying special attention to the cellar. It is your needs that will decide the size and layout of this room, but you may surprinsigly find that this space can fulfill other needs than those originally planned, that of the cold room.
How much does a basement conversion cost?
First of all, a basement conversion cost will always work out cheaper if there is no excavation required. A basement conversion is the project of changing the cellar space into a living space.
There might be different types and degrees of a basement conversion: a) Starting from a basic conversion; b) Basement conversion that involves excavation (floor lowering) and expansion in order to create enough height for the space to be habitable.
Basement conversion costs work may significantly be different, depending on the jobs to be undertaken
Some of the rough costs involved:
- Basement conversion of an existing cellar with no excavation for lowering the floor: £750 – £1,400 per square meter
- Lowering the floor level and underpinning an existing cellar: £1,500 – £2,000 per square meter
- Engineer’s fees: £1,500 – £2,000 plus a percentage of the contract value
- Making (Creating) new light-well / external access: £5,000 – £7,500
- Digging a new basement space and underpinning: £2,000 – £3,000 per square meter
- Digging a new basement space underneath a garden: £1,500 – £2,000 per square meter
- Planning application, if required: £165
- Building Regulations application: £750 plus percentage depending on the value of the work to be performed
- Party walls agreements, if required: £700 per each neighbour. Leasehold properties might be subject to party wall awards for each building level : ground-floor, first floor, second floor
- VAT: an additional 20% added by VAT- Only for the registered contractors
If you are planning a basement conversion make sure that you take into account this information and all the aspects and details to make your investment worthwhile.
According to expert appraisers in the real estate market, the basement conversion can raise the value of your house up to 20- 25%
The basement of the house is a room with a lot of potential that many people leave in the dust, coldness and darkness. You have many possibilities for arrangement. It all depends on your preferences, ideas and needs.
Any basement can be transformed into a small paradise for the family, bedroom, living-room, guest rooms, a cinema, a children’s play area, a game room, maybe even the place where you wash and iron, it depends on you how you want to you use that space.
Cellars can prove very comfortable, some of them even having quite large usable areas and sometimes plenty of natural light. What matters in these basement conversions is the furniture and its general appearance. Avoid dark colours in the arrangements, it is preferable to go for warm and comfortable textures.