Over recent years, houses with basements in Australia have been preferred to those without. These underground spaces were more ‘trendy‘ with our brothers across the ocean. But now, the current crop of property owners is looking to invest in them too.
Does this mean that you have to move if your Australian home doesn’t have a basement? Absolutely not!
In this article, we advise property owners on how to build their basement and the key elements to be considered.
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Why should you consider the addition of a basement?
In the past, basements were considered part of high-end homes and only for the super-rich. This mentality is slowly changing as more and more homeowners contemplate its design and construction.
Part of this can be attributed to the cost of acquisition. Information from the Reserve Bank of Australia reveals that Australian home prices have risen steadily over the years.
It is now harder for households to acquire basements. Instead of acquiring a new home with a basement, the alternative would be simply adding one in.
With the extra space, the space can be purposed for various uses. You can use the space as extra bedrooms, laundries, or as the children’s play area. Wine cellars, music rooms, or car garages are alternative uses.
With the extra space, the value of houses with basements appreciates. You can make significant profits if you are looking to sell your property in a few years.
How are basements built?
Before we go into the nitty-gritty of how they are built and what flooring is best for basements, we must first address the issue of the law.
Houses with basements must be compliant with zoning ordinances and planning regulations.
You might need the help of an experienced professional in the industry. Interpretation of these laws can be tricky. A reputable civil engineer, surveyor, or planning consultant’s advice might come in handy. They will assess the right basement build for your property.
You might need to also perform extra investigations on the soil type, water table, and the type of bedrock. Why don’t some Australian homes have basements? It is as a result of these risks stated.
Step #1: Support the existing development
With an existing structure in place, the key issue will be how to support it as we dig underneath it. The most common method is underpinning. It involves providing support through the use of columns.
The support system penetrates deep within the ground as far as the depth of the new basement. The support system comprises concrete columns, guaranteeing strength and support. Concrete usually needs some time to set. After that, the basement space’s digging can start.
Step #2: Digging out
It is recommended that you utilise a backhoe. You might encounter rocks and other enormous obstacles during the digging out. A backhoe also reduces the possibility of injury to you and other workers on site.
The only challenge with the use of a backhoe is manoeuvring space. You will need plenty of room for the vehicle to workably. An alternative solution is smaller tools and a conveyor belt to remove the debris.
Step #3: Walls and foundation
It is now time to pour in the foundation and set your basement walls. The basement walls should be thicker and more robust than the walls above. After all, they will be required to handle the weight of the entire structure. Also, the slab, once set, should be pinned into the walls. This guarantees a stable and strong foundation.
Looking to cut excavation costs? You might want to follow the lines provided by the already set foundation. This move also allows you to have a similar setup below as you do above. Of course, you can put in partition walls to change the space to your tastes and preferences.
Additional elements to consider when building a basement
The construction is often a complex development. There are many challenges that a homeowner or builder has to consider. Some of them include drainage, natural lighting, water ingress, and structural strength.
Basements can compromise the waterline due to their location. You wouldn’t want water to penetrate your wine cellar or exclusive den. Not after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars during its construction.
Natural lighting is ideal if you are going to spend significant time downstairs. We suggest the use of solar pipes, clerestory windows, and sun tunnels. If your property is on sloping land, installing a lightwell could be the best option.
You might have issues installing natural light. Change the use of the space to a utility room, storage space, a bathroom, or a home cinema. This will reduce the amount of electricity used downstairs.
What about the fittings and fixtures i.e. floors, ceiling, and wall finishes? You can install the same finish as the above space. This is if all construction is standard.
Warranties in basement building
Some homeowners might consider outsourcing the installation of a basement to their property. This option comes with its own set of advantages. In addition to expert advice and industry knowledge, most service providers offer their clients installation warranties.
A warranty assures you as the homeowner that the basement has been constructed as per building and planning regulations.
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