During your consultation with the appointed Architect there are some key elements which you should go thru in detail, such as:
The basement layout will need careful consideration due to its location. Therefore, this will be designed with the elements of natural light and ventilation in mind. Your Architect will need to make sure that the proposed basement design and layout will meet your current needs. Also, he will optimise space usage and in the same time obtain as much incoming natural light as possible. Ideally, the layout of the basement will have rooms such as cloakroom, utility room, storage and bathroom. Placement of these will be at the centre of the floor plan as they can function without natural light.
Choosing an internal floor to ceiling height is of paramount importance for a basement construction. This directly affects the underpinning and basement excavation depth. The typical finished floor to ceiling height (or FFL) in a newly constructed basement will be in the region of 2500mm to 2700mm. However, dependant on the budget and structural design limimtation, the headroom can be increased accordingly. With higher headrooms you will create an impressive sense of space.
Waterproofing a basement should always be carried out by specialised and well trained companies. The most commonly used amongst basement waterproofing solutions is the installation of a cavity drain membrane during the construction of basement walls and floors as well as the installation of a pumped drainage system. The choice of the actual products used will depend on a number of factors such as the condition of the underlying substrates and ground water levels. Fitting of these systems by approved and specialised installers with the appropriate warranties only. You can find here specialised companies providing high performance structural waterproofing systems and drainage solutions. The system installed, will greatly depend on the water table levels found at your property as well as on the intended use of your basement.
Due to the fact that the basement has a lack of natural light, you will need to discuss with your Architect the need to find the right lighting solution that will provide as much natural light as possible. Along with building a front and rear light well (or sunken terrace) to the basement, you can also implement solutions such as using glass divider walls. Furthermore, walk on glass panels (both internal and external), an appropriate lighting design as well as you can create an open plan layout can help daylight reach intot the basement.
Due to its position below ground, your basement will need adequate design and planning in respect of the ventilation. This can be achieved via natural ventilation which makes use of natural air currents. As a result, the ventilation will be designed in accordance with the basement layout. Similarly, mechanical ventilation should be installed in areas such as bathrooms and utility rooms.
The most commonly used heating option for basements is the wet underfloor heating system. As opposed to radiators, you will not have any showing radiators on either of the walls. However, before choosing this option, you will need to inspect your existing boiler. This may not be powerful enough to handle the new system. As a result, you will have to replace your existing boiler as well.
You can search for an Architect with an extensive experience in new basement design or existing basement conversion here. They will be able to run you thru basement design ideas which will suit your personal needs.
Most basement construction projects, especially in case your are underpinning a property, will involve significant structural works. Consequently, this element will require the implication of a qualified and experienced structural engineer. He will provide the following: construction design and detailing, Reinforced Concrete details (bending schedules).
Temporary Works Design – your or your appointed companies structural engineer will need to carry out a temporary works design. This important design element will include sequence drawings on how to actually build your basement whilst minimising the risks to your or neighbouring properties structural integrity.
During design, one important aspect which should not be overlooked, is the placement of the steel members in such way that these work with the Architects layout design. This might mean raising beams into ceiling/floor voids.
Locate a Structural Engineer who is familiar with and has extensive knowledge in basement construction design and temporary works here.