Among the top residential architecture firms in London, Scenario Architecture has built a solid reputation expanding and enhancing homes across the city. Our architects distil the ambitions of today’s homeowners into hard-working houses that express the past and look to the future. We specialise in striking interiors that maximise space and welcome natural light. The Scenario client aspires to a new archetype for London living: open, comfortable and luxurious yet accessible.
We founded Scenario with an ambitious mandate: to adapt our signature style to the needs of a growing family. We collaborate every step of the way with our clients to create highly functional interiors that make the best use of their investment. Scenario’s bespoke architecture tells the story of the homeowner, not the architects.
Our portfolio of new and heritage properties includes Scenario House, an East London terrace house we expanded in nearly every direction to accommodate the busy and evolving lifestyle of its owners. In 2018, Scenario House was shortlisted for several prestigious prizes, including the RIBA London Awards.
Your intention to convert a basement
Starting your basement conversion
We’ve drawn up this illustrated overview to help you understand each stage of your home renovation and extension. And we’ve created a step-by-step guide to help see you through the planning permission process. It deals with the ins and outs of UK planning and offers strategies for navigating the system, based on our own successes.
TipDiscover if your architect has had success steering planning applications through your local council. Visit the “planning applications” page of your council’s website and enter the architect’s name in the search criteria.
AdviceTo help you understand what it takes to obtain planning permission to convert a basement in London, we’ve created this helpful guide. Download it below.
Basement Conversion with Scenario Architecture
Working with Scenario Architecture on your basement conversion
Basement conversions have got a bad rap over the years, from households digging down multiple levels and edging dangerously close to their neighbours’ property lines. These “mega-basements”, or so-called iceberg houses, cause controversy for their deluxe features, like swimming pools, cinemas, wine cellars Turkish baths and car parks.
Building below street level can significantly increase the size of a home where conservation laws restrict expanding up and out. And new rooms below the main floor almost always make financial sense in high-value areas like London. But the more commonly sought and approved versions seek to enlarge an already existing coal hole or cellar. Even the most basic below-ground extensions will cost the same as a loft conversion, yet they’ll provide far more space for the outlay – most basement conversions in London start at about 40 square metres in size, growing to nearly 200 square metres.
Most basement conversions will require local Building Regulations approval, a sign-off from the neighbours and savvy planning. As most existing subterranean spaces lack any significant head height, most require excavation and underpinning. The height of the water table and location of sewer drains are an issue. And if the space lacks any access to light, a lightwell, an opening in the home’s entryway or glazing in the interior stairwell will need to be considered. If your basement conversion forms part of a larger all-over renovation, you can fold the assessment and application costs into your overall budget.
All that aside, converting a basement makes sense for families that intend to stay put and use it. Anyone looking for extra storage space, a separate playroom for growing children or a tucked-away space for utilities will find all these can be covered off in a single excavation. A well-planned basement can be the difference between staying in a beloved city home or leaving for the outskirts.
To make the most of your investment, you’ll want to consult an architect well versed in the local building codes and permissions protocol, and experienced in converting the vernacular architecture. If your home dates back more than a century, an architect that deals in period properties will be able to assess ballpark costs and potential risks with a single meeting. A good architect will be on hand throughout your project, overseeing quality control and serving as a liaison until the basement is properly executed.
In our clients words
We wanted to renovate our house in a conservation area in central London. Given this involved a complete demolition and new build with an extra floor on top, getting planning approval was always going to be tricky. Scenario did an amazing job on the new house ‘envelope’ and throughout the planning phase. We couldn’t have wished for better from them and having succeeded in gaining planning approval owe them a very big ‘thank you’.
Scenario designed a kitchen extension for us, and we are delighted with the results. The process was well organised, planned and delivered, and the whole team were a pleasure to work with. I would highly recommend them for their design, planning and project management skills.
Worked with these guys on the internal development of our office. From start to finish they were great. They got what we wanted first time and really made working with them very easy. Their aftercare has been great too helping us deal with something that they were not involved with in the first place. Will highly recommend them to anyone.