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Basement extensions becoming more popular in the UK

The extent of the trend for home owners in the UK to build basement extensions is revealed by new research which shows planning applications for this kind of work has increased by 9% in the last two years.

But in London they are even more fashionable with a rise of 11% in applications to local council to build or extend at basement level. It is a trend that many are highly critical of with wealthy owners being fond of mega-basements.

The research from Direct Line’s SELECT Premier Insurance also show in 2015 at least 1,968 planning applications were made to local councils in Great Britain of which 74% were granted.

The trend seem to be most popular in London and the South East. In the capital the number of applications increased from 1,348 to 1,497 and in the South East from 153 to 165. While regions like Wales and Yorkshire received less than 1% of such planning applications.

Even although mega basements in London tend to make the headlines with concerns about the size of the underground extension being built some 72% of applications were approved in 2015, just under the national average of 74%.

‘With house prices on the increase, especially in places like London and the South East, it makes sense that British home owners are doing everything they can to their properties in order to maximise space and value,’ said Nick Brabham, head of SELECT Premier Insurance.

‘Over the past 20 years loft conversions have been a popular choice for extending a property and now a growing number of property owners are building downwards to create additional space in a basement. This can be ideal for those living in towns and cities where extending outwards is impossible due to living in terraced and semidetached properties, or where large above ground extensions are prohibited,’ he added.

The research suggests that there is a clear relationship between the regions which are seeing increases in applications to build basements and the average house price in that region. London has the highest average house price of any British region at £457,759 and the largest proportion of residential basement applications. Indeed, property prices are so high for those living in London that extending existing properties may be a more cost effective, less disruptive alternative to moving home.

The regions with the lowest average house prices like the North East at £121,085 and Scotland at £134,625 had two of the smallest shares of residential basement applications in Great Britain at 0.4% and 0.6% proportionately.

In terms of successful applications, the North West at 90% and the West Midlands at 87% saw the highest proportion of applications approved by local councils. All planning departments across British regions approved at least two thirds of residential basement applications in 2015.

Brabham pointed out that anyone considering building a basement should make sure they get planning permission from your local council. ‘Basement works can sometimes cause disruption to surrounding properties, so make sure your neighbours are aware. You may even need written consent from them if you share a wall,’ he explained.

‘As with any major building work, your insurance provider needs to be informed as it affects the structure of the property you insure. There are additional implications if you are adding bedrooms too, so it’s worth having a conversation with your provider before undertaking any expensive works,’ he added.