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Basement Conversion Projects are a little unusual when compared with most Building Projects given that the works are below ground. Dealing with below ground structures, potential water ingress, high levels of dampness and cold spaces require specialist consideration. These are critical issues but there are other broader issues that when addressed correctly can provide the difference between a basic Basement Conversion and a Superb but safe Basement Conversion. Here are ten informative points that we feel are extremely important for you – most of which are covered by Building Regulations (where you can obtain much more detailed information, should you require it)–
If you are looking to remove walls or alter walls / doors / windows in your basement as part of the Basement Conversion Project, we would always recommend that you recruit a competent and experienced structural engineer. Creating large openings through walls or indeed removing walls will almost certainly mean that a beam / lintol will be required to support loads above the opening. The structural engineer will calculate what is required to carry those loads safely and effectively
Basement Conversions inherently involve dealing with high levels of dampness and at worst potential water ingress. It is vitally important that you employ a suitably qualified Waterproofing Surveyor to design the most suitably waterproofing system as part of your overall Basement Conversion Project. The Basement Waterproofing Systems is critical to ensure that your new Basement stays warm and dry for many years into the future
It’s an absolute necessity that consideration is given to how someone can escape from Basement Rooms in the event of fire. Ordinarily another escape (or escapes dependant on the number of rooms) other than the main access stairway will be required. Suitable external basement doors or suitable basement escape windows should be designed into the overall Basement Conversion Project before work commences on site
Heat and Snoke detection are required as part of the Basement Conversion process. Early warning in the event of fire is critical.
Radon must be considered as part of your Basement Conversion Project package. Radon is a ground gas which can have serious effects on health. It’s important to check Radon levels before, during and after a Basement Conversion project
If you Basement has a combustion appliance such as a boiler, it’s important to have a Carbon Monoxide detector cost to the appliance to alert you to high levels if required
Thermal insulation is vital to maintain heat and to manage the cost to heat your Basement Conversion. The better the levels of Basement Insulation, the better the heat retention for the Basement and ordinarily the less the Space should cost to heat. Insulation should be installed to walls, floor and ceilings for the best heat retention. Acoustic Insulation should also be considered if your Basement Conversion is in a property of multiple occupation or if higher than normal noise levels will be created in the basement or you need acoustic protection from adjacent areas – examples – Home Cinema, Music Studio etc
As with any home or office environment the correct levels oh heating for every part of the Basement Conversion should be considered. Underfloor heating offers a good form of heating in Basement Conversions given that you don’t have to consider where to put furniture and the form of heat is similar to the Sun’s radiant heat. Radiators (either electric / central heating) are also suitable, and all heating must have suitable control for the required use.
Basement Rooms usually don’t receive as much direct sunlight as rooms above ground level where Ground floor and First Floor windows are often unimpeded. Suitable lighting is important to provide you with nice light comfortable spaces. Low Voltage LED ceiling lamps can prevent low hanging lighting and when used strategically they offer superb levels of lighting. Cool lighting and warm lighting lamps can be adopted in LED fittings to offer options on the style of light. Feature lighting using LED pins to Staircases, Bathrooms and Kitchens can really enhance the finish of your project
Ventilation of any space occupied by humans is critical to maintain humidity levels and reduce the risk of condensation. At the same time the change of air in rooms is important to our health. Basements can be difficult to ventilate naturally because they are in the main below ground level and as part of the Basement Conversion Process, they are partially sealed using a waterproofing system. Mechanical ventilation can provide using extraction to Bathrooms, Kitchens and Utility Rooms. Heat Exchange Units and Positive Pressure Ventilation units should also be employed to provide good levels of Basement Ventilation. Trickle vents to windows and doors provide a small amount of background “trickle-ventilation”.
Habitable rooms must be supplied with a specified minimum amount of natural daylight to allow them to be fit for human occupation. Basement lights wells and windows must be considered at early stage in your Basement Conversion Project. Opening windows can also offer natural ventilation and means of escape
To achieve the best finish for your Basement Conversion its worth considering room use, floor coverings and wall finishes at an early stage. The choice of finishes can hugely enhance the overall quality of your Basement Conversion Project. Good quality flooring and suitably chosen colours can help to enhance the quality of lighting and the overall feel of your new Basement Space. Dark colour schemes can make a room seem smaller and light colour schemes can often make a room seem larger. Targeted feature walls can offer fantastic flair to your Basement Rooms.