Could you see yourself with a Bargain Basement?

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What do you do if you need more space but can’t extend your house? If you have a suitable roof space then many home owners opt for a loft conversion. Not all roofs are suitable for conversion, usually because there would be insufficient height or nowhere to site a staircase. In some houses, you would lose a first-floor bedroom to gain a second-floor bedroom in order to accommodate the stairs.

Going down…

The alternative to looking upwards for inspiration is to look down. Many period properties have cellars that can be renovated to provide extra living space, unlike loft conversions that are more useful as sleeping spaces due to their proximity to the existing bedrooms.

…and out

Depending on the construction of your house you may be able to gain more space than the existing footprint by extending out into the garden area. This can have the added bonus of allowing you to add skylights to the roof of the basement to allow ingress of natural light. Even if that is impractical careful design of the lighting scheme and décor can produce a remarkably light and spacious space.

Will it be worth it?

Without seeing your property this is a rather difficult question to answer. A full-height, well-built cellar renovation will almost always add value to your home – providing you haven’t reached the local maximum selling price. If you are trying to decide between up and down then, assuming you already have a cellar and loft, the cost of converting either to usable space will be about the same. Creating a basement from scratch will cost considerably more.

What can I do with the extra space?

If you’re considering an extension by conversion then you probably have some idea of what you are going to use the extra space for. Basement conversions are ideal for games rooms, second living rooms or home offices. If the lack of natural light is off-putting you can consider moving your utility area into your basement as washing machines don’t mind if it’s dark!

Certain uses, such as commercial premises for businesses or self-contained flats, may require planning permission. It may also be counted as an extension if you increase the volume of the basement. Further information can be found on or drop us a line and we’ll be happy to discuss your particular situation. It goes without saying that all conversions will need to adhere to building regulations and we will naturally work to the necessary standards.

How long will it take?

Simply fitting out an existing cellar will only take a couple of months at most and you will probably be able to remain at home during this time. Creating a new basement will involve removal of a large portion of the ground floor to gain access to the underside of the house and to underpin the walls. In this case you will certainly need to make alternative living arrangements for the entire duration of the works.

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