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January 12, 2010

In a Failing Property Market, Stay Put & Improve What You’ve Got – Cellar Conversions

Homes For Sale

Homes For Sale

Anybody that owns their own home these days is surely aware of the fact that the housing market isn’t exactly undergoing its most glorious era: these are the days that follow the bursting of the bubble, and the general panorama is concerning to say the least.  Many home owners have entered into panic as to how best to handle their investment from here to the foreseeable future, and though many might be tempted to simply “sell and forget” the most sensible approach at this point is to wisely manage what you’ve got.  That means making improvements within your available budget—improvements that will not only make living at home more enjoyable but that will prove to be beneficial to the home’s value (i.e., that have a good return on investment).

The reasoning here is simple: in a declining property market, you are virtually guaranteed to collect a lower price upon selling your property than what you initially put down to acquire it (whether in absolute terms or especially adjusted for inflation).  Hence, if you sell now you are condemning yourself to a loss: much wiser to hang on a while (even if you desperately want to move houses) and implement what improvements you can.

One smart improvement that home owners can carry without racking up a ridiculously inflated bill is represented by cellar conversions.  Converting cellars almost universally proves to raise a home’s value and furthermore it is a home improvement project that directly tackles several of the most common (and most serious) problems in a house, such as weakened foundations, excessive moisture buildup in walls, floors and ceilings, mold, and generally unpleasant odors and poor air quality.  These last issues not only negatively impact the value of your home, they furthermore present health concerns for the residents of a home (especially for people with a natural predisposition to strong allergies) and generally lower the quality of life in a home.  Therefore, cellar conversions are without a doubt one of the most beneficial home improvements you could possibly think about conducting.

Improving Productivity and Usage of Space

The wave of cellar conversions which is sweeping over properties all across the country is largely due to the fact that home owners are intent on reconquering spaces within their house that have been scantly taken advantage of.  Particularly in cramped urban areas where space is at a premium this trend can be observed at its greatest intensity: through the conversion of cellar and basement rooms, a family can achieve a variety of goals.  On the one hand, it is typical for the cellar or basement to be turned into a laundry room, though other uses have proven to be quite common, such as turning the space into a game room or even renting it out as a separate flat (this usually depends on the overall layout of the property).

Whatever the case, when a cellar is left unfinished and problems such as mold and moisture begin to exact a significant toll, the space is virtually unusable and contributes absolutely zilch to the general productivity of the home and its residents…just another reason for why cellar conversions are so in-demand.

The Many Aspects of Cellar Conversion

Converting your cellar or basement may be carried out in a variety of ways using an assortment of different products; the products to be used and the steps to be followed will depend on the type of structure and building materials as well as the level of threat of moisture ingress (for example, cellars that are located at the bottom of a slope/hill are generally at a greater risk of moisture ingress due to simple laws of gravity whereas cellars in homes on hilltops do not have such high threat levels).

One very effective and widely employed method for converting cellars involves using cementitious systems.  Such cellar tanking systems can either be applied with a trowel or sprayed onto walls, floors and ceilings.  In all, such applications tend to be combined with the installation of sand and cement renders with bottle-coves created where the wall and floor unite, topped off with a wall plaster and a flooring screed.

On the other hand, the membrane applications tend to be used in homes where the flooring itself and underlying material (the substrate) cannot be relied upon—typical of older, Victorian homes.  Here, the membrane is usually sealed only to the walls and ceiling with the use of special “fixing plugs”, with the floors usually not being fixed up in such instances.  Such applications tend to be complemented with perimeter drainage channels to ensure that the floors remain nice and dry.

Finally, combination systems are executed in many cases and really represent the most comprehensive possible line up of cellar conversion measures.  Consult with an expert that has reviewed your cellar to find out what specific combination of measures would be best for your cellar.

Further Considerations for Cellar Conversions

It may be necessary for you to comply with certain formalities in order to be able to carry your cellar conversion out (without any snafus that is).  Firstly, there are certain circumstances where the need to obtain planning permission for your cellar conversion may apply, for which the home owner will have to coordinate with their local government authorities.  This is likely to be the case if the property is located on an area of conservation or is a listed building, or also if the cellar is to acquire a new purpose such as being converted into an office or a garage, just to give two obvious examples.

Beyond the generally improbable issue of whether or not you'll need planning permission, undertaking a cellar conversion will necessarily mean complying with a variety of building regulations in effect.  Given that not only will doing the job improperly be a bad idea but furthermore a safety risk for all residents and even potentially the surrounding community, such regulations must be obeyed, generally addressing topics such as structural underpinning, fire escape routes, proper electrical installations, and so on.

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