Call me lazy if you like..
Perhaps I am, or perhaps I am just playing favourites.
Here we are again with the fourth and final instalment of our series of articles dissecting your favourite TV shows, uncovering pearls of wisdom hidden beneath the waffle.
We have returned to Sarah Beeny and her insightful and entertaining show:
Double Your House For Half The Money
In the episode we are faced with the usual scenario of a growing family who need more space, but are reluctant or unable financially to move. The premise of the show is that the owners can have what they want, by spending half as much on their house as it would have cost them to move to another.
What can I say … I like it!
This segment of the episode has a particular focus on basement conversions, an increasingly popular way of expanding the living space in our small British homes, and something we are particularly keen on.
More than Just a Cellar
From the outset, as Ms Beeny says, it is important to aim for a space that feels more like a a ‘lower-ground floor’ than a ‘cellar’. It is worth investing money into making the space feel like a part of the home rather than something which has just been bolted onto (or under) it.
The key to a successful basement, and this is the No.1 lesson to take from this TV show, is that it should feel like it isn’t a basement.
It might sound obvious, but the only way to stop your basement feeling like a dark, damp hole in the ground… is to get in as much natural light and fresh air as you can.
This means connecting somehow with outside, and the easiest way to do that is with a light well.
A light-well is basically a large hole which is open to the sky, allowing daylight to reach the lower level. They can be as small or as large as you like, they can even take the form of small courtyards.
However you do it, and if you do nothing else, providing daylight and ventilation to your basement will dramatically change the way the space feels and make it much more a part of your home.
If You Cant Make It – Fake It
There is obviously a limit to how much natural daylight you will be able to capture. You may not be able to get your hands on any.
Time to plan your artificial lighting strategy..
And it is a strategy. It is no good just thinking about one light fitting at a time, you need to plan the lighting for the space as a whole, considering the functions of various areas and their lighting requirements, as well as the nature of the light you require.
Thinking carefully about artificial lighting is something first-time renovators hardly ever do. There are just too many other things going on and it is just easier to leave this up to the electrician to sort out.
Artificial lighting is incredibly important in any project, all the more so in a potentially dark and gloomy basement conversion. On this I agree with Sarah Beeny – though I am not too sure about the recessed ceiling!.
Understanding Lighting Types
When choosing light fittings, it is crucial to avoid too much blingey lighting if you can (like some of the examples in the show – that blue LED handrail!). Stick to white or warm white bulbs – we don’t need coloured lighting.
LED lighting goes without saying, the energy savings are huge. There is no point saving a few pounds on light fittings, only to hand it over in electricity bills later.
Listen to Sarah Beeny and include different types of light sources in your basement conversion. Make sure they can be controlled independently so that you can adjust the mood of the room as required.
Consider localised task lighting, such as underneath joinery units, above mirrors or next to the bed, rather than uniform blanket lighting from recessed downlights (I always think it feels like you are in a car showroom or something).
Put light where you need it and choose fittings and bulbs to suit the amount and direction of light you need.
Think about ‘wall washer’ type light fittings to shine light down onto the walls which, when painted in light neutral tones, then reflect and defuse that light back into the room. The same can be achieved using uplights to bounce light off the ceiling, creating a much softer effect. This also has the added affect of making the space feel taller.
Nobody Like Soggy Feet
If light is the primary consideration when converting your basement, damp is a close second.
One thing you should never scrimp on is damp-proofing. Make sure you do it properly and have it professionally installed. Even if you plan to do some of the fit-out work yourself, this is one thing that you need to get right – you don’t want to be ripping out all your nice shiny fixtures and finishes later.
Sticking to Your Budget
One of the most common mistakes home renovators make is to underestimate the amount of time and man-hour it takes to complete a project.
Watching our favourite Home Improvement shows, everything seems to happen miraculously in the space of 45 minutes or an hour. How hard can it be?
Labour costs are arguably the most expensive part of any renovation project.
Do your homework up front while the project is still lines on paper. Simplify the design as much as you can to make it easier and quicker to build (eg. The conveyor belt idea in the video).
Finally, don’t forget the knock on effects on the rest of your home.
In the episode above, they only spent £35k on the basement conversion, conveniently exactly half of the £70k it would have cost them to move (funny that). The thing is, this figure doesn’t include the new kitchen they had to put in upstairs, or the other renovation works to the ground floor rooms (probably at least another £15-20k).
There is a lot we can learn from these shows but you also have to be able to look past the gloss a little sometimes, especially when it comes to cost.
Thats it from me. I hope you have enjoyed this short series of articles – hopefully I haven’t spoilt your enjoyment of Home Improvement shows! Let me know what you think in the comments box below.
And if you would like to see how a basement gets laid out in a Terraced House then I’ve got something very special for you.
The Ultimate Terraced House Basement Information Pack
In the meantime if you would like to know how to layout your basement AND make sure that the building work goes as planned then you need to check out a our Terraced House Basement Information Pack.
This information pack has been developed over the last 16 years in designing & managing peoples basement projects.
Here are some of the things that are covered:
- Step-by-step, easy to follow instructions that show you how to create a basement underneath your terraced house
- How to AVOID BEING RIPPED OFF by builders during the work
- Several basement layouts so you can pick and choose what to do with your basement space
- Where to get some other work done to your home that will ADD A LOT TO THE VALUE of your property
- How to make sure and check that you are getting quality workmanship in your basement
- How to put a world class bathroom into your basement
And this is just a sample!
This info will give you confidence when you deal with builders so you’re not taken for a fool or even worse ripped off.
So to find out more all you have to do is click the link below: