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Basement waterproofing: Cellar conversion basics explained

Basement waterproofing guide

Basement Waterproofing and basement conversion has become a hot topic over the last few years. Iceberg basements are becoming more popular and many people are choosing to extend their existing home, rather than move house.

Obviously, if you’re digging deep, you need to make sure that you waterproof your basement. This is where a basement membrane comes in. As part of a damp proofing system, a damp proof membrane will help keep your home cosy – and isn’t too tricky to apply.

Why opt for a basement conversion?

A basement conversion gives you extra space without the hassle of moving. If you’ve got a neglected cellar, it makes sense to turn it into a workable space. Whether you want a home office, kid’s playroom, gym, spare bedroom, bathroom, den or ‘granny flat’, a basement conversion could give you the space that you need. Better yet, it’s likely to add value to your home too. However, there’s a good chance you’ll need to waterproof your basement, to ensure it’s cosy and comfortable.

Ways to waterproof your basement

A simple basement conversion may just entail fitting a membrane. More extensive basement plans could involve excavation, fitting drainage and sump pumps and, of course, planning permission. It’s well worth talking to a basement specialist for anything but the simplest of jobs: horror stories abound of sink holes appearing and houses collapsing due to basement excavation mistakes. However, with the right advice, you should be able to waterproof your basement with ease.

Basement Conversion Rules and Regulations

Don’t forget about planning permission. While it won’t always be required, particularly if there’s no change to the building structure, it’s worth checking with your local authority for avoidance of doubt. If your building is listed, you may need consent to make any changes.

Consider your Party Wall Agreement: you don’t want your basement conversion to lead to a dispute with neighbours.

Check building regulations too – the Basement Information Centre has guidance on things you’ll need to consider, such as fire safety regulations. If you’re only renovating or repairing a cellar without any change of use, it’s excluded from building regulations.

When Should I Convert My Basement?

A basement conversion can be done at any time of year, but bad weather may cause problems, particularly if you’re digging deep or there’s external work required. As such, spring or summer are better than the depths of winter, if you’re planning a basement conversion.

The amount of time required depends on the complexity of the job. Speak to a specialist who is a member of the Property Care Association if you need guidance. While you may be able to keep costs down by doing some aspects of basement conversion yourself, it’s worth getting expert advice first, as mistakes can be costly. Don’t be too ambitious about your abilities in your attempts to save money: if in doubt, hire a professional.

What are the Benefits of Converting My Basement?

In addition to adding extra space to your home, taking the time to waterproof your basement will help protect against mould and rot. Problems such as dry rot can thrive in damp basements, potentially affecting the structure of your home – and the price of your property. When moisture penetrates the wall of a building, salts can appear on the inside wall, leading to peeling paint and wallpaper, so waterproofing your basement can help avoid costly redecoration. Converting a damp space into a waterproof basement will add value to your home too, particularly if you live in a high-demand area.

Different Ways to Waterproof Your Basement

There are two main methods for waterproofing your basement:using cementitious tanking; or installing a cavity drainage membrane system, channelling water to a suitable exit point as required, using drainage channels leading to a sump pump. The right method will depend on your exact requirements, and the level/type of damp you are dealing with. You may need to use a combination of methods to ensure your basement stays snug and dry.

How to Fit a Basement Damp Proofing Membrane

  1. Choose a membrane that suits your needs. Different membranes have different profiles, and can cope with different degrees of damp. Make sure you choose the right one (get in touch if you need our assistance)
  2. Measure the walls and transfer the measurements to your membrane.
  3. Cut the membrane.
  4. Apply the membrane to the wall with the studs facing inwards (towards the wall).
  5. Drill holes for the fixing plugs.
  6. Secure the membrane to the walls using plugs.
  7. If you need insulation, apply battening to the membrane to attach insulation boards.
  8. Decorate as required.