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With the lack of space in our modern cities homeowners are always looking for ways to improve the size of their homes. Quite often there are largish gardens which may be filled with summerhouses, log cabins or garden sheds which don't always give the benefits the owners are looking for. This means maybe rethinking what to do with the available land and possibly removing or relocating these garden buildings. This can give an opportunity to have an extension to the house. Depending on the situation this could be one or two storeys high creating a massive amount of extra accommodation.
Another possibility which has been seen on Grand Designs is to have a basement conversion and this can be quite popular in London. As there are no exterior alterations then planning permission is not normally needed although building regulations is a must. There are many uses for these basement from family rooms, to an extra bedroom or even to use for storage similar to usage as a garden shed, but in my view, would be totally not cost effective and overly expensive. To go down this route you would need a basement already and if your house is Victorian there is very good chance you have one. Hopefully the water table is not too high in your area which will make it easier to waterproof but if you have a basement, certainly worth considering.
However, not everybody is in favour of these types of conversions, whether out of jealousy or concerns about the structure or other environmental issues. A multi million pound redevelopment scheme in Chelsea, London, received accusations that a planned development was totally at kilter to local architecture and would alter the local environment. How this can be so when the conversion is totally out of sight and usually in a basement which is already there is debatable.
This development in Paulton Square had created a living space which was 40 ft x 20 ft in the terraced house basement and extended under the garden, however, the local residents were not happy with this. Robin Lister, the property developer, had purchased the house 2 years beforehand and installed a temporary conveyor belt to take the soil away from the basement whilst the work under the garden went on. He had hoped to sell the property for in excess of £7 million.
However, the Chelsea Society, which exists as a conservation group to protect the historic character of the area were critical of the underground development. The secretary of the society, Terence Bendixson, said that if you dig up the garden and then put in a basement then the ground will not be able to absorb rain water which is a great problem in our cities and suburbs. One of his arguments is that these types of development can affect the London plane trees, also, these conversions upset the traditional use of these grand houses as the cellars used to be for the servants quarters and not for living accommodation. I think they forget that we now live in the 21st century and not the late 19th century. Things have moved on since then and property owners are looking for different things in their homes.
It was suggested that a log cabin or even a state of the art garden shed might be a better idea for his garden. It certainly would be less controversial. Who would have thought that a garden shed could be a better proposition that an underground development. Despite my 39 years in making gardens in Bagshot Surrey and other related garden buildings if it was me I would go for a converted basement every time.