For many basement conversion projects, our clients have fantastic ideas about what features and requirements their new space should have. In order to help turn these dreams into reality, THINK BASEMENT has partnered with Mike Leigh, Architect and founder of Time Architects, to offer a project design and delivery service that is second to none. Mike is keen to give his perspective of the processes involved in creating truly superb basements and the benefits in using professional design teams for your project…
When considering a basement conversion within your home, as with many things in life, it pays to create a well thought out plan. The starting point of any plan is to identify the ultimate goal – the problem to be solved. Most clients I meet when looking at domestic projects of any type simply state “I need X number of Bedrooms/ Bathrooms etc. and this is where I want to locate them”. However, with a basement conversion you are ultimately starting with a set of constraints i.e. the footprint of the space, the available head height, sources of natural daylight and ventilation, connectivity to the garden area, structural materials, the location of an access stair to suit the floor plan above, the location of existing services supply and drainage and the existing ground conditions. With these points in mind the space available then ought to point the architect in the direction of a logical solution in terms of space design, and this of course needs to be married to the needs of the client.
Budget is obviously a big factor in most conversions and the architect should take a ‘whole house’ approach looking at the rational of the existing floors primarily. All of the above points can be overcome where required, but each remedial action carries with it an associated cost which can eat into the budget. A good architect will be mindful of this and will look to generate a proposal that meets the client’s needs, offers best value for money and also offers that wow factor that separates a great project from a good one. With this in mind then, it pays to employ an architect as soon as possible, arm them from the off with your problems to be solved and dreams and visions rather than possible solutions, identify your budget and work closely together to achieve the best possible solution for you and your home.
So what things can you do with your basement? And what should you spend your money on to get the best results? Two very important questions both of which are fully dependent on the individual case at hand and clients themselves.
We are all individual different people with specific interests and needs and each live in a space that we mould to suit our lives. Traditionally kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms are the spaces thought to be able to add value to a property. It is important to understand though what we mean by value. In monetary terms outside of certain key development areas (such as London) it is unlikely any such work will increase the value of the property beyond that of the cost of the works themselves. Also as most estate agents will testify, a property is likely to be constrained by a ceiling purchase price determined by the relative value of other local properties and the desirability of the area of its location. However a well presented property, with good and efficient use of internal space, clear links to good useable outside space and well accommodated and apportioned spaces, ought to be considered as desirable if and when looking to sell the property.
Above and beyond kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms it is becoming more desirable to create leisure and entertainment spaces within the family home and a basement conversion offers an ideal opportunity. These can include formal kitchen and dining rooms, a library, children’s play spaces, a cinema room, a swimming pool, sauna/ steam rooms, a bar and social space, a computer games room, a garden room or indeed whatever suits you and your life.
Whatever you decide is right for you, a basement conversion is always likely to be a good value investment in your property if planned properly and thoughtfully to suit you and your needs. It is likely to be a simple process to achieve planning consent and in most cases will give better access to, and relationship with, your garden space. In relative terms a basement conversion is the type of expansion project that will have the least visual impact on your home externally and therefore from the point of view of neighbours will be the least intrusive.
THINK BASEMENT and Time Architects have developed a professional partnership that aims to go beyond the often compartmentalised professional roles that can be found on building projects. Time Architects extensive experience in dealing with highly sensitive and complicated heritage projects around the UK has highlighted the need for a great degree of collaboration and shared vision between architect and building contractor. This ethos is easily demonstrated when conducting joint site visits to proposed basement conversions from the very beginning of the project. Establishing a fantastic dialogue between the client, the architect and the contractor is essential to ensure that the journey from the clients first ‘wish-list’ to the completion of the project is as smooth and positive as possible for all involved. Not all basement conversions require significant input from the architect, but Mike and the THINK BASEMENT team will often be found sharing a coffee and discussing projects that are in the planning stages, ensuring that each prospective client can be sure that they are getting the best possible advice, guidance and service for their home.
If you are considering a basement conversion, or would like to chat about any ideas you may have, THINK BASEMENT and Time Architects are happy to help.
You can find THINK BASEMENT online: www.ThinkBasement.co.uk or contact us: Hello@ThinkBasement.co.uk or 01142583500.