What permission is required before you start work?
Before carrying out a basement conversion it is advisable to seek guidance from the Planning department, as planning permission may be required under the Town and Country Planning Acts and from Environmental Health so that they can consider if the proposed accommodation will be adequate.
A Building Regulations application is required for converting an existing basement to habitable use, excavating a new basement or extending an existing basement.
Planning Permission for Basement Construction
The planning regime covering the creation of living space in basements is evolving and under review.
Converting an existing residential cellar or basement into a living space is in most cases unlikely to require planning permission as long as it is not a separate unit or unless the usage is significantly changed or a light well is added, which alters the external appearance of the property.
Excavating to create a new basement which involves major works, a new separate unit of accommodation and/or alters the external appearance of the house, such as adding a light well, is likely to require planning permission.
If you live in a listed building you are likely to need consent for internal or external work.
In all circumstances you are advised to contact your Local Planning Authority for guidance on local policy before starting any work.
Building Regulations for Cellars
Building Regulations apply. They cover areas such as fire escape routes, radon, ventilation, ceiling height, damp proofing, electrical wiring and water supplies.
Underpinning and foundation work may also be needed.
You must also consider the Party Wall Act 1996 if other properties adjoin yours and you share walls.
The ‘Basements for Dwellings’ guidance was removed from the list of approved documents on 1st October 2010. DCLG and the Basement Information Centre are currently developing updated guidance on this topic.
If the proposed works affect a party wall, e.g. if beams are to bear onto a party wall, the wall is to be extended, altered, underpinned or if excavations are to be carried out near to a party wall, the owners and leaseholders of both the building within which the proposed basement works are to take place and those of adjoining properties must be informed.
The relevant legislation is the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
Guidance notes on the Act are available from DCLG Free Literature, PO Box 236, Wetherby, L23 7NB,or they can be accessed on the internet from the website of the Department of Communities and Local Government.
The Local Authority does not have a role in the implementation of the provisions of the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
Works should not start unless all necessary approvals have been received.
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