The mega-rich are known for having huge mansions and oversized properties. The new way the rich expand their homes is through huge basements that may go down two or three stories, big enough for multi-car garages and swimming pools.
However, basement extensions are just for the super-rich. An average suburban homeowner can put in a basement extension below their foundation. Even if there is water below your home, it is possible to put in a basement extension.
Putting in a decently-sized basement extension can be a much better option than buying a new home, especially in expensive metropolitan areas. For example, in London, most houses are very small and above-ground expansion is difficult due to building restrictions. A basement extension could make room for another bedroom and bathroom for guests, or a playroom for the kids.
Putting in a basement extension impresses the neighbors, too. Don’t be surprised if your basement extension inspires others to do the same. It could bring up the property values of your whole neighborhood.
A new basement extension will require some logistics. For example, if there’s water under your home, you’ll have to put in pumps to keep the water out. In fact, the best plan is to put in a pump, and then a backup pump in case that one fails. If your area is prone to serious storms or frequent power outages, you might consider a backup pump with a battery or other independent power source. That way, in a major storm with both flooding and a power outage, your basement will stay dry.
Of course, you do need to be considerate of your neighbors when putting in a basement extension, just like with any new construction. The equipment used to put in a basement extension is large, unsightly, and noisy. Make sure access to the construction area doesn’t pass over a neighbor’s lawn or walkway, as the heavy equipment can cause damage. And try to limit construction to the hours when your neighbors are at work, to avoid disturbing them.
Watch out for changing economic benefits to your new basement. There is talk of charging a “basement tax” in the borough of Westminster and other councils. This tax would pay for inspectors who come out to make sure that construction noise and deliveries don’t overly disturb the surrounding neighborhood, as well as making sure the new construction complies with relevant building codes. This could add thousands to final cost of your basement.
A basement extension is a good way to add value to your home in an area where ground-level construction is too expensive or banned by regulation. It’s surprisingly cost-effective if the new construction adds functional living space instead of extravagant extras like a swimming pool or extra garage. However, be aware of logistical issues like underground water, and try to keep your construction from overly disturbing your neighborhood. You aren’t alone in considering a basement extension – the new “basement tax” in some areas proves that it’s a growing industry.