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Guidelines for Basement Regulations

By: Emma Eilbeck BA (hons) - Updated: 21 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Building Regulations Basement Renovation

Why Building Regulations Exist

Building regulations are there to protect yourself and your building work so it is important that you follow them. Your builder should be well informed of the regulations for your basement conversion and they will have to answer to the building inspector who will inspect their work and makes sure that they have followed the guidelines and done everything by the book and make sure you have planning permission.

There are a number of potential problems that could arise with your basement conversion, building regulations will make sure that your basement conversion is not falling short of any regulations. Before work can commence on your basement conversion you will need to submit your plans in full to your local council for planning permission where they will asses them along with an engineer. It is important to keep the building inspector on side, so inform them of your development every step of the way.

Basement Waterproofing

Building regulations for cellars and basements state that all floors and walls that are below ground level need to be waterproofed. This is to prevent damp and water entering the structure of your conversion and reaching the rest of your house.

You will also need to consider how much water is getting into your basement, you will need to get a structural engineer to assess the height of your water table, which is how far you need to dig down before you find water.

You will need to get British Board of Agreement accreditation for whichever method of waterproofing you choose for your basement renovation and you will need to get certificates to prove this.

Your Basement Structure

To make basements or cellars inhabitable and to comply with building regulations, your walls may have to be underpinned and the floor dug into further in order to achieve more room, because of this you may need to add more support to your joists such as steel beams.

Any structural work you carry out to your basement room will also need to be passed by the inspector to make sure that it does not impact on the rest of your house or your neighbour’s house and that it can support your proposed plans.

Fire Escapes

Your basement room normally only has one access point in and out of the room. If you are planning to use the basement you will need to provide another means of escape in case of a fire and your staircase is blocked.

Your fire escape can be in the form of a window or another door, as long as you can show that in an emergency there is another way to get out of the basement.

You will also need to have adequate ventilation in your basement conversion to allow air into the conversion which will help prevent any damp and moisture forming.

Insulation

You will need to adequately insulate your external floors and walls as well as your windows. This is not only part of building regulations but is also help keep your basement renovation energy efficient. You will need to make sure that they are of an adequate thickness. Your local council and builder should be able to advise you as to what thickness will be suitable.

Electrics in Your Basement Conversion

Any new electrics that are installed in your basement conversion must comply with building regulations. You will need to get all electrical work installed by a registered electrician and you will need to get certificates to prove this. The certificates will not only keep the building inspector happy but they will also look good when you come to sell your house in the future.

Different councils can ask different things of you when it comes to your basement conversion, so it is important that you speak to them before you plan or start any of your work. Building regulations are there to protect you, so it is important that you don’t ignore them and work with a qualified builder who knows the regulations inside out.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi, we are purchasing a basement flat and are receiving conflicting information regarding fire exits and would like some clarity. The flat is a split level, upside down, basement conversion - ie you enter the living & kitchen space on the ground floor, and go downstairs to the three bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms have access to the outside lower ground via doors. We have been advised a fire escape is required to the ground level allowing an alternative means of escape should the staircase be blocked as mentioned above. The seller believes as they provide a fire escape via the back bedroom to the garden this fits the regulations. HOWEVER our surveyor believes because there is effectively no means of escape from the garden itself (no gate or access beyond the house) a second fire escape is required via the front bedroom leading to the street and therefore distancing ourselves from the property, which would not be possible via the back unless we jumped the fence (I'm not sure what implications that would have should there be an elderly or disabled resident in the property, etc). Please can you advise? Many thanks
Lauren - 21-Nov-18 @ 10:00 AM
I have a damp cellar used only for storage. The existing access is via a concrete staircase installed when the house was built in 1955. Due to proposed alterations atground floor level this staircase will no longer be usable and I wish to construct a trapdoor with new stairs or possible reuse of old stairs. The Building Inspector has said that the new stairs must comply with Building Regs and the trapdoor be surrounded by guarding of 900 mm height. There is no room to provide these. My question is do full building regulations apply to this work to an existing non-habitable cellar.
williamro - 10-Nov-18 @ 10:37 AM
Good afternoon, i am looking into converting my basement, its a huge space made up of three rooms(separated by supporting walls), I am aware of some of the regulations like fire plaster board for the ceiling and damp coarse. how ever the fire escape routes, as it is three separate rooms and only one has a window up to the back garden does this mean i can only utilise that one room? or is it one escape route for all three rooms?
Stuw - 20-Oct-18 @ 3:30 PM
... - Your Question:
My house is victorian. has a ground and first floor. The basement was originally for coal storage no access inside house only exterior. It is not a usable space currently. not intending to change that. bulk head access with no door, access is by small wood barn type door at bottom of steps. walls and floor are soft victorian brick. ceiling is plaster board covered floor joists. Do building Regs apply to my cellar door , am I required to make any changes to it?Thank you

Our Response:
Sorry we can't visualize this, your local building control officer will give you advice (for free)
LoftsAndBasements - 31-Jan-18 @ 2:12 PM
my house is victorian.has a ground and first floor.The basement wasoriginally for coal storage no access inside house only exterior. It is not a usable space currently. not intending to change that. bulk head access with no door, access is by small wood barn type door at bottom of steps.walls and floor are soft victorian brick. ceiling is plaster board covered floor joists. Do building Regs apply to my cellar door , am I required to make any changes to it? Thank you
... - 30-Jan-18 @ 5:39 PM
Zakariya- Your Question:
Hi I would like to know if I have small window in my basement, which by the way is underground and the small window is on the pavement outside can I rent out my basement there is a ventilation vent also kitchen bathroom bedroom separate gas and electricity meters, it's also registered as a basement flat with Lambeth council. Just only one fire exit. Can I change the window into one that can open up ? Also my basement always seems to have that dampening smell although you can't see any damp what so ever. Can you recommend any powerful vents silent ones please. Many thanks

Our Response:
You should really consult your local planning and building control departments about this as we can't comment on specific cases where we don't have all the information.
LoftsAndBasements - 30-Jun-17 @ 2:02 PM
Hi I would like to know if I have small window in my basement, which by the way is underground and the small window is on the pavement outside can I rent out my basement there is a ventilation vent also kitchen bathroom bedroom separate gas and electricity meters, it's also registered as a basement flat with Lambeth council. Just only one fire exit . Can I change the window into one that can open up ? Also my basement always seems to have that dampening smell although you can't see any damp what so ever. Can you recommend any powerful vents silent ones please. Many thanks
Zakariya - 29-Jun-17 @ 11:35 PM
Hi, I live in a multi-story (five Floor) apartment with a an underground car park. An issue recently raised with the Freeholder was that there where No Fire escapes in the basement car park. There are two lift shafts with stairwells as well as the main ramp up to the ground level however these are all gated and access controlled with no means to open them without a coded key. There is no means to escape or utilize these points of exit if you do not have a coded key. Is this legal? Should there not be a quick release on the stair well doors to allow you to exit should you not have your keys on you? Thanks in advance.
LondonRes - 1-Jun-17 @ 4:45 PM
London Sw13 - Your Question:
I recently went to see a room, as need a new place to move in. I saw place being advertised as a single room. Made an appointment to see the place, and was shocked to see a room being in the basement of a house, with another 3 rooms, and there are another two floors above the basement room in question. The single room in basement got no windows, just some sort of ventilation. My question is, is it legal to rent a room, based in the basement of a house, no windows and only one point of excape in case of emergency. Thank you.

Our Response:
It's pretty unlikely this would be allowed. Depending on how long ago the conversion was done, all new builds and conversions/moderations require a means of escape or additional fire resistance measure. Check with your council if you're unsure about this.
LoftsAndBasements - 7-Apr-17 @ 2:04 PM
I recently went to see a room, as need a new place to move in. I saw place being advertised as a single room. Made an appointment to see the place, and was shocked to see a room being in the basement of a house, with another 3 rooms, and there are another two floors above the basement room in question. The single room in basement got no windows, just some sort of ventilation. My question is, is it legal to rent a room, based in the basement of a house, no windows and only one point of excape in case of emergency. Thank you.
London Sw13 - 1-Apr-17 @ 11:09 PM
IanH - Your Question:
HiI have recently converted a Basement in my Victorian house into an habitable space. I have complied with all the Building Regulations the officer pointed out except one. He mentioned that I would need to replace all the internal doors throughout my house (regardless of the floor they are on or the proximity to the basement) for fire doors. My view is that this is a little over-zealous and I have been told this by builders too. Is there a way that I can verify / challenge this requirement? Thanks Ian

Our Response:
Is this for residential use or is the building converted into flats/apartments?For a residential property a fire door might be required between storeys (but not on every door) if there are three or more storeys. If the above floors are open plan, then more fire doors/fire supression methods will be required. You might want to get a second opinion on this from a professional (a private building control officer or one from another authority).
LoftsAndBasements - 10-Jan-17 @ 11:39 AM
Hi I have recently converted a Basement in my Victorian house into an habitable space.I have complied with all the Building Regulations the officer pointed out except one. He mentioned that I would need to replace all the internal doors throughout my house (regardless of the floor they are on or the proximity to the basement) for fire doors. My view is that this is a little over-zealous and I have been told this by builders too.Is there a way that I can verify / challenge this requirement? Thanks Ian
IanH - 9-Jan-17 @ 11:48 AM
Firstly, it British Board of Agrement (with an accent over the 'e', not Agreement. Also BBA certification is NOT compulsory and is not specified as such in the building regs which simply states that the building and its inhabitants should be free from the harmful effects of moisture, or words to that effect. BBA certification is no more than an independent validation of the manufacturer's claims.Those claims may even fall short of building regs requirements. A sheet of polythene can be BBA certified.
BasementExpert - 13-Mar-13 @ 10:22 AM
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