How to make sure that your basement extension is not causing disruptions

Written on 12 November 2013 by Alistair Boscawen in Property News

Planning a basement extension? – You should think twice!

Basement extensions. No two words will strike greater fear into the hearts of a Central London resident (particularly if it’s their neighbour who mentions them). Swept up in a craze of underground digging, residents of the borough have been causing controversy with their subterranean basement extensions. From Belgravia to Mayfair, to Knightsbridge to Marylebone, the disruptions have been the subject of much newspaper coverage. So, if you are planning a basement extension it’s probably best to work out how not to upset those living in your neighbourhood for the sake of community cohesion.

Here are a few tips on how to go about ensuring you won’t have any problems:

Liaise closely with your local authority

Recently The City of Westminister has said it wants to put an end to iceberg homes as they’re called, which have caused numerous issues such as structural damage, flooding, sink holes etc to neighbouring buildings. The borough saw some 200 basement extension applications during 2011/12 but authorities have stepped in after complaints from residents. There are plans set to limit extensions to 50 per cent of the property’s garden size, with depths of no more than one storey. Previously there were no minimum depths, which led to problems with drainage. The point is that you need to keep on top of what limits your local authority has put on underground extensions and work out if it’s really worth it for your property. Remember that rules vary across the boroughs so you need to find out exactly what they are in yours.

Liaise closely with your neighbours

There’s nothing more stressful in life than having bad relationships with your neighbours. However, if you communicate effectively with them, keeping them updated with your plans this could help smooth things over. Tell them you’re thinking of building a basement, ask for their advice. Inform them that you don’t want any tensions and give them a number they can contact you on if they have any questions. This way, you can nip any queries in the bud early. Make sure they feel like they’re involved – and not on the outside looking in.

What’s the long-term aim?

Remember that ultimately the basement extension is for you and your family’s long-term gain. It’s no good if the short-term disruption is for an end result that you weren’t completely sure about in the first place. It’s vital to make plans for your family, how they’re going to cope and the time it’s going to take. Remember to make alternative arrangements well in advance to ensure that you’re prepared for drastic changes. It’s all about the planning!

Communication with builders

basement extension This is another obvious, yet important point. Do the builders know about your timetable and exactly what you want done and when? Make sure you pinpoint someone you can regularly liaise within the team and also chat with them about things such as weather-proofing the site etc. And don’t forget to use technology! Video calling from mobile devices is a great way to stay in touch.

We hope these tips have been useful. It’s all about communication, timing and preparation!

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Alistair Boscawen

Alistair has 32 years’ experience as an estate agent, starting in the country house department of one of London’s main international agencies before moving to the Knightsbridge house department of the same agency and learning the difference in values between freehold, long lease and short lease houses in Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Chelsea and Mayfair.

All articles by Alistair Boscawen


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