Some love them, some hate them and some really, really hate them. Basements engender discussion like house prices in a property boom. Everyone has a view to express no matter how they might be affected or indeed how informed they are.
Let’s consider the pros and cons:
- They are often the only way to extend a property in a conservation area.
- They provide more scope to adapt cramped accommodation to meet the demands of modern lifestyles.
- They offer good investment returns.
- They are unsettling for neighbours during the development process.
- They can involve considerable noise inconvenience and disruption to neighbours during the construction process.
- They can have adverse environmental impact.
- They can be detrimental to the heritage of the Mews and the conservation area.
- They can structurally compromise the Mews terrace.
It is generally easier to write in negative terms about most subjects and Mews are no exception to this. For a developer in consideration of a central London site the most persuasive factor is likely to be the profit motive so the balancing of pros and cons is largely irrelevant. For others, especially those living in Mews residences close to a development site, and hence at the sharp end of things, there can be a good deal of frustration and uncertainty about what is to occur.
Much of the frustration relates to the development process rather than the construction phase of the development. It is often felt that when the builders arrive they are more considerate and easier to deal with than a developer who wants full optimisation without compromise.
Compromises that may be possible during the construction processes often have to be removed from initial appraisals due to their adverse effect on the balance sheet.
Development situations can be exceptionally stressful for all concerned but most will benefit from certainty. Certainty, that is, in the possible scope of the development; what the local authority or estate will allow in terms of size, depth and programming of the works; certainty also in the working hours they will allow on site; certainty in the information that will be demanded and made available before, during and after the development; certainty too in the physical protection to be afforded to the neighbouring property; and the financial certainty that will be demanded before the works can proceed.
We will consider these and other basement development issues in the BLOGS section of this website which will follow. However if you have any specific projects needing surveying or party wall advise please contact our sister company.