London residents are building more and more cellars. During the past nine years, basement construction applications increased by nearly 100 percent. They went up around 25 percent in only a year. Why? Rising residential real estate prices have made it possible to greatly increase the value of a home by adding a basement. Some councils have banned this practice on weekends.

Economics

This becomes a sensible investment whenever dwellings sell for at least 800 pounds per square foot, according to estate agents. Underground spaces sometimes boost selling prices by the same percentage as equivalent additions. In the current housing market, owners spend less to add cellars than they gain in resale value.

Many districts have residential real estate prices that meet or exceed this level. They include Chelsea, Hampstead, Chiswick and Mayfair. The cost per square foot is approaching 800 pounds in places like Kennington and Battersea. As housing prices continue to rise throughout the city, cellars may become popular in additional areas.

Concerns

A downside of the basement boom is that construction has the potential to disturb neighbors. People in nearby homes hear a considerable amount of noise during this process. Cellars also sometimes damage surrounding buildings. This has caused a few local councils and associations to turn against new basement installation projects.

Homeowners don’t always need permission from the authorities before they add basements. Some local governments allow people to build them without permits if they don’t exceed a certain size or consist of multiple stories. In some cases, the laws are vague enough that they can be interpreted in different ways by various officials, property owners and attorneys.

Several communities are changing or clarifying their policies. Islington, Chelsea and Kensington have decided to require permission for new basements. Camden’s council has expressed concern and plans to review its rules in the near future. This doesn’t necessarily mean that property owners won’t be able to build cellars, but new basement plans will have to undergo official scrutiny.

A venerable music studio in Hampstead has attempted to prevent a neighboring building from adding a cellar. If constructed, the underground addition will feature a theater and pool. The studio has sought to stop it from being built because construction noise could interfere with its recordings for two years.

Benefits

Despite potential problems, some property owners have opted to avoid high taxes by adding basements. This allows them to make their homes larger without paying taxes on additional land or real estate transactions. People also gain considerable amounts of money by purchasing homes and reselling them after raising the prices with new basements.

Even wealthy business tycoons have embraced this trend. A mansion owner in Kensington plans to add a huge basement, and he recently gained the local government’s approval. The new cellar will provide enough room to install a vast swimming pool. Kensington was one of the first districts to see a surge in underground construction.

Basically, basements continue to provide an economical way to increase the square footage of London homes, another trend has been to add a new roof to increase value. They also raise resale values and offer tax benefits. This has made them a desirable expansion project for numerous residents. However, concerns about construction noise could make it harder to gain permission for new cellars in some neighborhoods.