Utopia    Guest Blog 18 Aug 2016

Basement Conversions: Andrew Boldt of Insurance Tailors shares his boho-chic tips and tricks


Andrew Boldt, Managing Director at Insurance Tailors gives the best tips and tricks on the boho-chic basement kitchen trend.

With space becoming premium in the UK, more of us are digging down to reap the benefits of increased square footage, and the number of us moving our kitchens downstairs is on the up. With airy stairways directed straight out into the back garden and a sturdy floor to support heavy granite worktops and monolithic structures, a basement is definitely a great place to have your kitchen – there are just a few things to consider before you start…


Integral insurance

Quite simply, if you are digging a big hole underneath your house or changing the structure of the existing basement, you are putting the property at greater risk of subsidence, collapse and all sorts of dramatic disasters.

When you start talking to architects and contractors about your renovation plans, it is vital you talk to your home insurer as well; it is likely that they will significantly reduce your cover or remove it completely.

We know insurance is a little painful but it will hurt a lot more if you are hit with unplanned costs. In most cases, it is necessary to take out specific renovation insurance and non-negligent insurance to cover the existing house and the works, as well as protecting your neighbour’s house.


What about waterproofing!

One of the most important factors when digging or converting a basement is waterproofing it; all walls and floors below ground level must be waterproofed to prevent damp seeping in, as any moisture in the soil can permeate the walls. The horror story is real, water will ALWAYS find a way in.

There are two main types of waterproofing; tanking systems create a barrier against the water getting in and membrane systems can be used in less stable conditions and so are useful for older properties. Consider this carefully, as waterproofing can cost anything from £750 – £3,000 per square metre.

This is not a DIY situation; if you’re about to install £20,000+ worth of kitchen downstairs it is best to employ a professional basement company. Most specialists can provide an insurance-backed guarantee for the works, but if a guarantee is not provided, look into a structural warrantee or latent defects insurance policy. Be clever, get covered.


Amazing access and vital ventilation

You should consider access to the basement; getting large worktops and appliances down a traditional basement stairwell will be tricky and yet you also want to make the entrance look as natural as possible and in-keeping with the rest of the property.

On a serious note, most house fires happen in kitchens! Hence, you may just need an escape route in addition to the main stairs.

Ventilation is a vital consideration when installing a kitchen in a basement, not only to alleviate lingering cooking smells but also to improve airflow and stop damp before it takes hold – ideally you want ventilation up into the back garden.

Bespoke basement kitchens are beautiful and a definite trend right now, but after all the effort you put into your dream design, to keep it in peak condition, be sure and insure.