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With living space in London at a premium, some of the residents of our capital city are deciding that
where extending their properties are concerned, the only way is down!
In particular, where properties are at their prime value, and are routinely changing hands for millions of pounds,
property developers are finding that the only way to add space and value is to go underground.
Figures compiled by companies that track planning applications, showed there were just shy of 900 applications to build basements under residential properties in London during 2015. This is 25% higher than in 2014, and 50% higher than in 2007.
There have been major concerns in recent years about so called ‘iceberg’ basements, whereby the mega rich have added multi floor basements underneath residential dwellings, to house cinemas, gyms and even swimming pools. Such excavation can cause untold damage to neighbouring properties with subsidence; disruption to residential streets having to occupy vans, diggers, rubble-bearing conveyors whilst work is carried out; and on rare occasions roads have collapsed under the strain of the underground excavation.
Is all the chaos and expense really worth it? The truth is, some homeowners just don’t want the hassle and expense of moving; they like the location of their present home – they just need more space. So creating a new basement makes more sense to them – it’s a whole floor comparable to the ground level, unlike a loft conversion which although offers space, can restrict movement due to roof dimensions.
So whether you live in London, or a completely different part of the country, providing you have your planning application approved (for a modest basement, of course) then what should you be thinking about in terms of the development of the project?
You’ll have to verify the renovation under the Party Wall Act 1997 – this should be done more than two months but less than twelve months before you start work on your project. A Party Wall award is a kind of safeguard which provides a framework for the prevention and or resolution of any disputes that could arise in relation to the work being carried out. It specifies the work being carried out and how and when it will be managed. Included should be notes on precautions to prevent damage to the adjoining property.
You’ll need to be considerate with your proposal and ongoing works, to minimise the disruption to your neighbours. Speak to them before any work is started, giving them plenty of notice to work through any questions or queries. Make sure you know your facts about the Party Wall Act, as this will enable you to answer any questions your neighbours may have with regard to the effect that the build may have on their property. Their minds will be further put at rest when you discuss with them the party wall insurance and renovation insurance policy you have purchased.
Professional advice is readily available from companies specialising in property renovation insurance, so make
sure you have discussed it with an expert and have all the facts, ensuring you have paid for a policy that is tailored to your exact requirements.