The Ins and Outs of Basement Conversions

Thinking about converting your basement? Learn more here!

Basements often spell untapped potential in a home; which is a shame, because they’re considerably less common in the UK than they are in other corners of the globe. Choosing to convert yours into a functional room can add value to your property as well as extend your living space, but it’s not a simple job. There’s a lot of factors to consider when starting your basement conversion and at Refresh Renovations, we can help you collate all of these to create a cohesive conversion plan. But what are those factors? Read on to learn!

Potential Value

Basements are still fairly rare in the UK and because of their frequent lack of liveable use can often form a fairly ambitious renovation project. It’s important therefore, that homeowners equate the cost of work versus the value the conversion will add to the home – at least, if they’re ever likely to sell. Ideally, the opinion of an estate agent or surveyor should be sought if the property is to be sold in the future in order to ascertain the balance of value. Even if the homeowner isn’t looking to move on any time soon, it is unwise to spend considerably more than any value gained will be, as you never know just how circumstances may change.

Planning Permission

Converting a basement doesn’t necessarily require full planning permission from the LPA (Local Planning Authority), but advice will need to be sought from the relevant bodies. Basements that have been unused or infrequently used for a long period of time may need structural intervention to ensure a safe renovation and so an architect would need to be involved. There are various building regulations that will need to be followed and where plumbing needs to be installed or changed, further safety guidance to be adhered to. This should not prove an issue, as building regulations are purely for safety and include the likes of emergency escape routes and ventilation. Refresh Renovations will be able to guide you through all appropriate standards and guarantee to carry out all works to, if not over and above, these benchmarks.
Permitted Development Rights do allow for storage areas or otherwise unused areas of a house to be converted into habitable rooms unless the property is situated in a conservation area or holds listed status. If a basement conversion is taking place under Permitted Development Rights, it is advisable to apply for a certificate of lawful development from the LPA in order to provide documentation to prove the project meets all necessary requirements.

Party Wall Agreements

If the basement conversion is taking place in a property that isn’t detached, a Party Wall Agreement will need to be made between the homeowner and any neighbours with shared walls. In these cases, notices need to be issued and consents obtained from such any neighbours who may find the boundary of their properties affected. A Party Wall Agreement needs to be made at least two months before any work begins. If the neighbours aren’t bothered by the project, they can consent to it with no fees involved – but this will be required in writing on a waiver form. Where Refresh Renovations are managing a basement conversion, they will approach and discuss all of these with the neighbours ahead of time.


If a basement hasn’t already been sufficiently waterproofed (and it may well not have been if only being used for storage), it will need to be in order for a successful remodel to provide a usable space. Damp can be tackled from the inside and drains and pumps installed to move water away from the room’s boundaries, as well as vapour barriers laid to protect against condensation. Exterior waterproofing and damp-proofing may require some further excavation.
Water penetration can be tricky to control in underground environments and it’s not unusual to find that basement conversions have several waterproofing methods in place to help combat the issue. In older homes with porous walls or properties where the water table is higher than usual, a cavity membrane drainage system may need to installed. Refresh Renovations will be able to advise of such options on a free, no-obligation, home visit to scope out the job.


Decent air quality can be difficult to maintain in sunken basements and so ventilation to instil proper air movement is critical. Good ventilation will not only keep damp at bay but also prevent mold, mildew and fungus – and keep the room smelling fresh. Radon gas, which emits from the ground naturally, is odourless but can be harmful to human health. While this is a completely normal factor from the environment, the basement room will need to be ventilated enough to not stifle this in; but not leave the room entirely unsealed.


Renovating a basement can be a time-consuming renovation as there’s lots to deal with and factor in to the job. A full basement conversion can take several months and so the schedule for this must be considered with your daily life and plans. Whether or not you choose to live in the property while the conversion is happening may depend on the access route into the basement – if there is likely to be little disruption to the ground floor of the home, it may still be possible to do so, but if you’re going to find that the floor needs to be removed, this may not be the case.
Refresh Renovations has all relevant warranties and guarantees in place to insure your basement conversion project and upon a property visit will be able to sit down with you and scope out the job to work out timelines, budgets and the level of intervention required. Get in touch with the local Refresh team in your area to start your journey toward a fully functional basement!

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