Basements, a love hate relationship

Houses have been built with lower ground floors in London since the seventeenth century so the concept of a basement is entirely natural to Londoners.

Traditionally housing kitchens and servants quarters, the ‘below stairs’ accommodation is compromised by lack of natural light and ventilation, rendering them the cheapest floors.

We work with developers creating some of London’s most desirable and saleable houses but some are building iceberg basements with swimming pools, saunas, gyms, golf-ranges and media rooms etc. and these amazing creations are failing to attract little more than laughter from buyers and estate agents, as they are asking eye watering prices.

Conversely well-designed, single basements add considerably more value to houses than their build cost. So if you are thinking about building or buying one, here are the do’s and don’ts to consider:


1. Accept that subterranean square footage is worth less than above ground space.

2. Build open plan kitchen/dining/family rooms as they are the most saleable.

3. Make the internal walls non-supporting so you or a buyer can reconfigured in the future.

4. Its cheap space so free up your more valuable floors by building laundry/ boiler rooms, storage and wine cellars down there.

5. High ceilings with full height doors give the best feeling of light and space.

6. Drop down fire walls and sprinkler systems avoid wasting your space in corridors.

7. Fit oversized sump pumps because if it floods it will be sewage not rainwater.

8. We see hundreds so ask our advice as we know what sells.

9. Be prepared to fall out with all your neighbours.


1. Put bedrooms in the basement. No one wants to go downstairs to bed or put their children to bed in the basement with ducted ventilation. Regardless of your architect’s advice do not do this thing.

2. Unless building a house for your own indulgence, never put a swimming pool under your house and create smell and moisture problems. You will also narrow the audience when you come to sell.

3. Unless targeting the Howard Hughes of the world, do not build basement golf ranges and gyms unless they are for yourself.

4. London is ghettoised so do not target a group of buyers who would never consider your area. If you want to sell to Arab Billionaires build in Mayfair or Knightsbridge not Notting Hill. If you do you will appeal to no one, it’s that simple.

5. Lateral houses are more valuable as they have less square footage wasted on stairs and landings.

As quoted in City AM