Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Digging Deep for Extra Room; House Doctor Peter Fall Gives Some Expert Advice on Making a Basement Habitable

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Digging Deep for Extra Room; House Doctor Peter Fall Gives Some Expert Advice on Making a Basement Habitable

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Fall of Clear Building Survey

IT'S at times like this, when house prices are dropping, that homeowners desperate for more space start to think of how they can better use the space they have.

Moving up into the loft is not always possible and there could be reasons against an extension - planning, conservation or just not practical.

This is what happened with clients who live in an older property. The house had been built with attic rooms and the rear yard could not support a bigger offshoot. The answer to them was the basement rooms. This area was mostly under the front ground-floor rooms but also extended out to under the front street.

Before the works, the basement was a bit grim. The brick and stone walls were structurally sound but dampness penetrated through from the adjoining ground at the front and rear while the two side walls next to the basements in the adjacent houses had rising damp. The stone-flagged floor was uneven and damp, as was the stone staircase. The underside of the floor to the rooms above the basement was exposed and the timbers were sound but the underside of the front pavement was a mixture of stone and concrete slabs, which were very wet from the outside rainwater.

The space was good with the stairs running down from the hall giving easy access. The problem is that to make a basement habitable and comply with building regulations, the rooms must be made dry, ventilation and fire precautions must be incorporated and there must be a satisfactory means of escape should a fire occur. That's in addition to making the area warm and wiring out to satisfy the demands of teenagers' gadgetry, as well as complying with current regulations.

All of this represents a significant challenge not to take lightly. Unfortunately the clients had taken it lightly and pushed on with the conversion without taking full advice and certainly without obtaining building regulation permission. …

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