Heard about the latest trend in wealthy homes in London and its surrounds? It’s all about building basements – and not the kind of old style basements that you might imagine. Luxury basements built by the wealthy are now cropping up all over London as a way to make the most out of a property’s square meterage, while still retaining the external façade.
Also known as “iceberg homes”, with these homes all you can see from the outside is the “tip of the iceberg”, with the rest of the home hidden below street height.
Height restrictions mean you can’t build up
It’s a big problem facing homeowners, not just in London, but all over the world – height restrictions meaning that you can’t build up to extend your home, even if you wanted to. So, just what can you do when you don’t have any extra yard space, and building height restrictions mean that you can’t build up? Well, you excavate and build down of course.
This unique solution to a common problem is a costly exercise, however, which means that it is generally only within economic reach of the wealthy. It means that you can extend an inner city home without having to purchase a property with a larger amount of land space.
Just what’s in these wealthy London basements?
It’s not a dark and dingy basement that used for storage that people are now building, it’s a luxury extension to a home that’s being built in people’s homes. Whether that be adding more kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, or living areas, or even swimming pools, saunas and swimming pools, it really is about adding those either functional or luxury touches that you wish your home already had but don’t currently have the space for.
It’s upping the resale value of London homes
Like adding an extension to your home, adding a premium basement obviously will help up the resale value of these London homes. This is, of course, all depending on the area. In a high value suburb, building a luxury basement that gives more rooms or facilities than others in the area is usually a sure fire attraction for home buyers. This is opposed to in a low value area, where people are not looking to spend as much money, and owners may not recoup the costs of their basement building.
Considerations for basement building
Not just everyone is keen for basement building though – neighbours especially. When building downwards this may mean with the wrong building contractors that the ground and surrounding may become unstable. Unstable basements can lead to building collapses not only on the property site, but for the neighbours as well, which may cause a bone of contention when property owners inform neighbours of their plans.
With the right survey and contractors, it may be easier for residents to keep the neighbours happy and sane, reassuring them that their properties will be safe, despite the underground caverns going on next door.
It’s gaining in popularity
The rise of these underground extensions is gaining so much popularity, that in the tail end of 2016, residents of Westminster now have to pay a levy of 8000 pounds just to get approved permission from the council to start their underground home works. While this is the first London council to do so, it is likely not going to be the only one. It is expected that other surrounding areas will also follow suit with their own levies, as more and more people start building underground.
In Westminster alone, there are around 150 basement building applications per year, with numbers rising.
What does it mean for Australians?
While we still have massive block sizes in Australia compared to the rest of the world, inner city properties are continually getting subdivided, giving us less room to work with. While you might want the size of a home in the suburbs, you might also want the convenience of a home in the inner city.
Building a basement in an inner city home ala the residents of London may well be the ideal solution for you in this case. If you want to add more bedrooms, a second or third living area, a cinema room, or a gym, then building down instead of up might just be an option in your area. So, take note, start planning, and see if you can work in an underground extension to your existing property, and make sure to consult with your local council about any special permits that are needed.