Top Ten Uses for a Basement
So you’ve decided to dig deep to find the extra space your family needs, but you’re not sure whether you can do what you want? Here’s a quick run down of the top ten uses for a basement extension and the core problems you’ll face.
With all except the very first option, you’re probably looking at lining the walls of the basement or cellar, particularly if you’ve had to dig down to make headroom. But once you’ve lined, tanked and got the access sorted, really the use of the room is limited only by your imagination and the size of the space you can create.
The easier optionsWe’ll start with the options that need the minimum of work once the basic structural work is done. All of these options will need electricity, light at least, if not power sockets as well, but that’s the only service required, strictly speaking.
1. Storage spaceIf you have an accessible cellar or basement you’re probably using it as storage space already. But clearing it of any rubble, tidying it up and putting decent shelves and cupboards in can make a huge difference. It could determine whether it becomes a useful storage space for items you only need occasionally instead of a place where you just throw things, never to be seen again, until the next house move.
Decent lighting really helps this as well, so you might want to think about more than just one naked bulb dangling forlornly from the rafters.
2. WorkshopOne step up from the storage space is a workshop but think about the sort of work you are doing. Small scale modelling or similar hobbies will be fine but making large items of furniture or rebuilding motorbikes will require good access to the basement. You might be able to achieve this if your underfloor space isn’t completely below ground level, by enlarging a former coal hatch or skylight.
3. Home officeWhether or not this will work depends on the type of work you do and whether the lack of natural light could make the office too depressing. But all you need is light and power to make a space where work can be separated from the distractions of family life.
4. Spare bedroomTechnically no different to the home office but the same applies – could you hack the lack of light? The best basements for a bedroom are those where there may be a window, often the case with cellars in period properties. Light tubes can be a solution for other spaces. Self assembly furniture will be required too!
Entertainment and lifestyleAgain, no different from the office or bedroom in terms of the technical work required, these options are simply more entertainment focussed.
5. GymnasiumA basement is a good place for gym machines as you are unlikely to have to worry about them going through the floor! You can also put a gym in a basement with restricted headroom as long as you opt for machines where you recline, like rowing or cycling machines, even bench presses.
6. Games roomBy this we mean a space for more active indoor games, not the electronic type, that you might not be able to fit into the house otherwise. Candidates, depending on the area and headroom available, are snooker, pool and table tennis. If you’re lucky there’ll be space for a few pinball machines, a juke box or even a bar!
But with the advent of active electronic games like the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft’s Kinect and other many more, be aware that you may have to give space over to them in the end.
7. Home cinema and entertainment roomHere’s one where the lack of natural light will be an advantage. But remember to count up all the electrical sockets you need, add a few for luck and then double to arrive at the correct number to install. Network and internet access, either wireless or wired, is a must too. You might not believe it but they’ll all disappear much faster than you expect. Apart from anything else the Wii and Kinect will be muscling into the space as soon as it's ready, because Mum will be so annoyed with the breakages in the lounge.
Getting the plumbing inThese are the ideas with the extra level of complexity as plumbing is involved. With all of them you will need a way of getting water in, possibly heating it if the boiler in the property can’t be accessed, then removing it along with any waste. And no, water does not flow uphill, not unless you pump it, so there’s an extra level of complexity there.
8. LaundryThe basement can be a great place for a laundry, with the possibility of ironing space as well as a sink, washing machine and tumble dryer. You could even have hanging space to let washing dry naturally, as long as the ventilation is good enough.
Get a cold-fill washing machine and you won’t have to worry about getting a hot water supply to the basement. A standalone heater can deliver the occasional hot water required for the sink.