A new basement can provide a spacious and comfortable extension to your family home – but won’t be worth the time and expense if it isn’t heated and ventilated properly.
A basement conversion is a great choice for expanding your property, providing a whole new floor level that can be used for a number of different purposes. Before you can begin enjoying your new extension, however, you will need to make sure it is installed with adequate heating facilities and provides sufficient ventilation to prevent any lasting damage – to both you and your family’s health and to the structural integrity of the building. Only once it has been made perfectly safe and habitable can you start to benefit from all that costly, time consuming work that was spent on installing your new basement.
Basement Ventilation options
Ventilation involves the removal of stale air from the home to allow new, fresh air easily to enter into the building in order to reduce humidity and prevent the accumulation of toxic black mould. Mould can be harmful to the respiratory system and can cause the flaking, peeling and disintegration of wallpaper and plasterboard. Proper basement ventilation also helps prevent the onset of rising damp and subsequent structural problems. There are a number of ventilation options to choose from, including:
Windows : Standard high positioned windows are a great way to allow natural light and regular bursts of fresh air to enter your basement, but aren’t usually effective as long term basement ventilating options.
Open staircase : Under UK law, a basement that can be entered through an open staircase with no intervening doors already has adequate ventilation, due to the free-flowing air from the upper floors. If, however, a door is installed separating the stairs either from the ground floor or basement, additional ventilation is required.
Air bricks : These special type of ‘bricks’ can be fitted into various points of the basement walls where fresh air is directly available outside it; you can include these as part of your basement installation or even have them fitted once the conversion is complete.
Extractor fans : These single units can be attached to the walls, windows or ceilings of your basement and are designed to reduce the room’s humidity by expelling any moist air or unpleasant odours and replacing it with fresh, clean particles. They now even come with automatic sensors that recognise when the humidity in your basement reaches a predetermined level.
Ceiling Fans – This is a neat and simple option that can be fitted in addition to any other ventilation option, as a way of quickly circulating stale air and.
Basement heating options
As a basement is constructed below ground level it is going to be naturally cooler than the rest of your home and as such will require a proper heating system to keep you and your family warm and comfortable – especially in the freezing winter months.
Electric heaters : Small plug-in heating units can usually be purchased from a number of retail outlets, but they provide minimal heat and aren’t usually cost-effective to run, especially for larger basement rooms.
Baseboards : These are basically more efficient and stylish electric heaters that can be fitted as stand-alone or oscillating units in your basement; the heating element simply warms cold air that travels past it. More elaborate designs usually include an internal fan to maximise the total volume of air heated at any given time.
Radiators : You could always have a radiator or two installed on the walls of your new basement, and then fit the required pipe work directly into your existing boiler. This is probably the simplest option as it doesn’t require extensive work and means your entire home’s heating derives from a single source – making repairs, improvements and even paying the bills a lot easier.
Fireplace : This provides a luxurious and aesthetically pleasing centre piece to your basement, but will cost a significant amount, as you will need to have a chimney flue professionally fitted and regularly clean and maintain the main fireplace.
Underfloor heating : Following the commonly known law that ‘heat naturally rises’, underfloor heating can be fed either through either an electric or warm water pipe system and evenly spreads the heat across a large surface area of the floor, allowing the room to warm at its maximum capacity. It is, however, more expensive than more traditional heating options.
The total cost of basement heating and ventilating will depend on a number of factors, including the size and volume of the room, the type of units or systems you choose and how often your basement will be in use.
Whatever options you settle on, be sure to shop around for a good deal, comparing quotes from a number of different contractors and checking any references they provide. Some companies even offer 2-in-1 deals for the installation of heating and ventilation systems – a great way to save time and money. Once the required units have been fitted and checked, you and your family can finally begin making the most of your newly expanded home.