Building Work on Basements and Cellars
Basements and cellars
Many older houses have either a basement or a cellar. Basements were generally intended for use as kitchens and sculleries, or for similar purposes, by live-in staff. Cellars, on the other hand, were generally built under only part of the house, and their access was always just from inside the house (perhaps with a coal hole for deliveries). A typical cellar has no natural light or ventilation, and may possess only the most rudimentary damp-proofing. A basement clearly offers more scope for conversion into habitable rooms.
Structural work needsapproval (you can use the building notice scheme instead of applying for written approval if you are confident your plans meet the Regulations). You also need approval if you are installing new sanitary or fuel-burning appliances, and any work carried out should meet Wiring Regulations. A conversion will not need unless a change of use is involved: to a home office, a self-contained flat or a garage, for example.
The major problem is likely to be that of damp (have a professional survey done). Work will involve putting down a polythene damp-proof membrane and perhaps a new floor, damp-proofing the walls, perhaps fitting a new staircase, and installing or upgrading services. It is generally best to fit independent heaters. Balanced-flueheaters are ideal in a in which the flues can discharge their emissions into the outside air; is best in a cellar conversion.