If you’ve already converted your loft, you might have thought you’ve done all you can to increase room space in your property – but that’s not necessarily the case. Even if you don’t currently have a basement beneath your property, there are specialist firms out there who can create one. And if you’re thinking we mean a small cellar room that is dark, musty and dingy, we don’t, you’d be very surprised at what can be done. So in this blog we look at a new craze sweeping the affluent property owners in London – basement development projects that bring a whole new meaning to the line… the value of your property can go down as well as up…
We won’t pretend for a second that a big basement development is a budget affair. Structurally there’s an awful lot to think about – digging down means compromising a property’s foundations – so it’s an architectural challenge worthy of any Grand Designs episode. So much so, in fact, that the architectural boffins have coined a new name for these extravagant installations – and the humble basement has given way to the subterranean extension. It’s not hard to see why they are becoming popular either – with big property in London’s smartest boroughs costing in the tens of millions, building extra rooms underground can more than double your square footage. It is almost certain to add more to the property’s value than it costs to construct too. All rovided you’ve got several £million kicking around to build it, that is.
As reported by the Daily Mail, these are the plans for a £10million conversion of a property belonging to Hedge Fund manager Edmund Lazarus. Mr Lazarus’ plans will add 16,000 sq ft to his property and include underground car port, swimming pool, games room, cinema, gym, wine cellar and cigar room.
Above the ground the property is already a highly desirable £16million 1860s detached townhouse in London’s Holland Park, Kensington and Chelsea.
But Mr Lazarus’ is just one in a long list of London’s super-rich who have caught the subterranean development bug. Daughter of Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, Tamara is reported to be adding 5000 square ft to her Kenisington Pad including a pool bar, bowling alley and billiards room. Whist Russian Oligarch and Chelsea Football club owner Roman Abramovich, Actress Nicole Kidman and musical maestro Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber are all reported to have extended their properties subterraneously. It does make us wonder if we’ll soon start seeing ‘Genuine [insert your chosen rich superstar here] London soil’ – amongst the celebrity items listed on ebay.
The statistics for of subterranean projects are astounding. In 2004 the number of planning applications for extending underground – in Kensington and Chelsea alone – were 64. In 2013 they had risen to 307. A reflection of how constraining the above ground planning regime is in London.
Most of us mere mortals will never see inside of one of these developments, let alone be able to afford one, but if you are considering a subterranean conversion on a smaller scale there are some challenges to overcome. Getting to grips with mould and moisture is the single biggest challenge in making any basement space liveable, but modern techniques and materials are designed to help with that. Choosing the right materials for any fittings and furnishings for the environment are equally important. You’ll also need plenty of lighting, the good news with that the latest LEDs can provide low cost light that has a very daylight feel to it.
You might also need off site storage (for all the things you used to store in your cellar, but won’t be able to once the refurb is completed) – and you know just who to call if you do…