Converting your basement

Page 1: Benefits of converting the basement
Page 2: Do I need planning permission
Page 3: Water issues
Page 4: What about the neighbours?

Hannah Shanks - Editor

Do I need planning permission?

The good news here is that most cellar conversions don't need planning permission because you are only changing the inside of your property.

However, if you choose to add a new entrance or windows at the front of the house, dig an entirely new basement, or need access to dig up parts of the road or pavement outside your home, you will need planning permission from your local council.

You may also want to check out the specifics of planning permission for basement conversions in case you want to extend or change your basement structure in the future.

You can find more details on planning permission from Planning Permission Guide or Communities and Local Government

If you live in a listed building, however, then remember that all renovations require permission before you begin any work - even if they are completely out of sight from the outside. This is because the features in listed buildings are protected for historical reasons.

Whether or not you need planning permission, you will need to comply with the current building regulations for extensions - these are simply legal requirements for any new living space, which exist for your own safety.

What are the building regulations?

Any extension that people will use as a living area is covered by building regulations.

These regulations are designed to protect the inhabitants from health or safety hazards, and include things like adequate fire escape methods.

The most basic regulations for a basement conversion are; ventilation, damp proofing, electrical wiring, safe access, ceiling height and a fire escape route.

Even if you don't need planning permission, you must get building regulation approval for your basement. These regulations will insist on certain considerations when you are planning your project - for example, a door which is at least 30 inches wide is considered fine but a window has to be a certain size, as well as a minimum distance from the floor, in order to be considered safe.

There's no need to stress about building regulations though. Details can be found at the Office of Public Sector Information and The Basement Information Centre.

What else do I need to know?

The biggest factors to consider when it comes to converting your basement are underpinning the foundations which we have discussed above, waterproofing or damp-proofing walls, and providing a suitable access point.

 
 


Property pros