Basement Conversions

The Ultimate Guide to Basement Conversions

Guide to Basement Conversions By Experts

An increasing number of people are converting or installing basements to make more space in their homes.
In most cases, basement conversions have a positive impact on the value of the house, which makes them even more desirable. However, installing or converting a basement is a significant project that requires a fair amount of planning, considerations, permissions, and money.
To help you take on this challenge, the Danford Brewer & Ives' basement conversion experts have shared their ultimate guide to basement conversion:

Your Ideas

When planning to add a basement room to your house, you must have an answer to some crucial questions, including the reason, the worth, and the time duration of the conversion or installation. You may need to consult a professional to get an answer to your questions.
Firstly, you need to decide on the use of the basement room that you are planning to build. Are you going to use it as a spare bedroom? Will it be a leisure space or an extra bathroom or kitchen? All basement builds irrespective of the intended purpose come with challenges, which you need to be prepared for in advance.
You should also make sure that the basement conversion or installation will add value to your property and look at the return on your investment because you would not want your money, time and effort to go to waste if you eventually plan to sell the property.

Considerations

After you have decided the purpose of the basement room and considered the return on your investment, then you can go on to evaluating other, more specific aspects of the room, which include:

  • Waterproofing

Waterproofing, alongside any structural changes, are the most significant considerations for basement conversions and basement installations. Because they are below ground level, basements will be subject to groundwater and some may be below a water table or a perched water table. Protection of below ground structures against water from the ground is fully explained in British Standards 8102:2009. It is very important that this standard is followed in any basement conversion or new build. These rules will ensure that a correct method of tanking or water control is used. Basements are often more vulnerable to condensation and adequate insulation, ventilation and heating will be necessary.

  • Lighting

Understandably, basements will not have a lot of natural light so you will have to consider how you will adequately light up the area using artificial lighting and light reflecting colours. Another way by which you can increase natural light in the basement is to add a sunken garden, which will increase the cost of the project.

  • Bathrooms

If you intend on using your basement conversion as a spare room, then it is likely that you are going to add a bathroom for washing up. If a bathroom is in the plan, consider the ventilation, the type of toilet you will use and the plumbing.

Financial Planning

As with all construction projects, you need to plan the financial aspect of the basement conversion meticulously, ensuring that you stay within the budget. Start by contacting the professionals for quotes and plan your budget accordingly.

Building Permissions and Regulations

Often a straight forward cellar conversion will not require planning permission, but checks must be made and Building Regulations will apply. Some changes to form new windows and doorways may come under permitted development and not need full planning consent, but major changes to the appearance or change of use should always be checked before any work is started. An architect of the local planning authority should give the best advice. An experienced, qualified contractor should be aware of the rules and regulations.

Look For Basement Conversion Professionals

Once the planning, financing and permission aspects are completed, you can then start looking for professionals that are reputable and can provide you with high-quality solutions for basement conversions within your budget. Do your research, read reviews and meet with the professionals before the selection. Remember to comply with British Standard 8102:2009 and all relevant Building Regulations.
Danford Brewer & Ives are basement conversion experts.  With many successful projects completed, we are the perfect partner for anyone looking to have a basement conversion.  To discuss your plans further simply contact DBI and book an appointment for one of our qualified site surveyors to visit you and run through the options with you.


Basement-Conversion-Before

Professional Advice for Dealing with Damp

Professional Help & Advice for Dealing with Damp Problems

Damp is a common problem that should be identified and treated as soon as it gets a foothold in your house. Shockingly, damp problems can cause serious structural and health issues if left untreated. Fortunately, damp can be treated with a few simple steps that we will reveal in this guide.
One of the damp proofing and treatment specialists at Danford Brewer & Ives has shared his professional guidance for people dealing with the issue of damp in their homes. He holds years of experience in offering damp surveys and damp treatments to both commercial and residential properties. His vast experience has allowed him to gain professional insight into how people at home with little or no knowledge can treat various types of damp.

Expert Recommended Treatment for Condensation

Condensation is the most common form of damp and can also be the easiest to resolve. Condensation is caused when everyday actions such as cooking, bathing, washing and drying clothes create moisture in the air. The most common rooms for condensation to form in are the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms.
The wet air will then target areas of cold surfaces such as windows and external walls. You can identify these areas by looking for blackish mouldy spots, water droplets on the walls and window glass, small puddles of water on windowsills and peeling paint.
There are many small and simple ways in which you can reduce condensation in your property, for example:

  • Ensure that each room has sufficient ventilation, such as opening windows and using extractor fans.
  • Ensure that the property is moderately heated. Without heat, the wall surfaces will become colder and attract further condensation.
  • Make sure that there is sufficient insulation within your loft space. Condensation will form on ceilings where cold spots are created through insufficient insulation.
  • Dry clothes outside. If you dry clothes indoors on radiators, then this will add moisture into the air. Also, if you use a tumble drier ensure it is either vented or a condenser tumble drier.
  • Keep all airbricks clear to allow air to flow around the property.
  • Keep furniture slightly away from the walls to allow air to pass around it.

If the above suggestions do not help improve the condensation issues you are experiencing, then other steps can be taken. Contacting a damp specialist means you will be offered the correct specialist solution to deal with the problem effectively, whether it is a Positive Pressure Unit, heat recovery humidity-controlled extractor fan, additional air vents, improved insulation, heating, or most likely a combination of these to find the correct balance.

Expert’s Recommendation for Damp Penetration

Penetrating damp is caused by water penetration in the walls. The most common reason behind this type of damp is structural issues.
It is vital that the cause of water penetration is dealt with before anything else is treated. Experts suggest checking for the following:

  • High external levels, built up paths or flowerbeds
  • Blocked & overflowing gutters
  • Broken, leaking downpipes
  • Running overflows from cisterns and tanks
  • Porous masonry (under-fired bricks, porous stone, porous mortar)
  • Cracks
  • Defective render & pointing
  • Unfilled joints and perpends
  • Defective seals around doors and windows
  • Holes in walls – e.g. where cables or pipes protrude

If you see blotchy patches with crumbling paint and plaster inside your property that is wet with mould and mildew growth, then, unfortunately, you are dealing with penetrating damp.
Ensuring that your property, especially older properties, is kept well maintained will help prevent penetrating water.
Treatment of penetrating damp can require stripping material back to the bricks, but it only happens in severe cases. Materials that are severely damaged must be removed and replaced. Do not merely paint over damp because it will not solve the problem from spreading further.

Experts’ Recommendation for Rising Damp Treatment

Rising damp is the common term for the slow upward movement of groundwater in the lower sections of walls. Rising damp can be a sign that your walls were not adequately protected from the moisture in the ground outside. It could be that poor drainage is a contributory factor, so it’s certainly worth checking for standing water in crawlspaces and basements. Rising damp has to be corrected as soon as possible because it can lead to severe damage to your house.
Signs of rising damp can include:

  • Tide marks/staining
  • Salting – white powdery substance
  • Peeling paint/wallpaper
  • Skirting boards becoming rotten
  • Plaster blowing/crumbling

To check and treat rising damp, it is essential that you enlist the help of a qualified reputable damp proofing and damp treatment company that can identify the cause of rising damp. These companies can come up with the most effective solution.
No one property is the same which is why Danford Brewer and Ives carry out a thorough damp survey on each property to identify the what the root cause of the damp is and provide a suitable treatment to fix the problem.  If you have a damp issue and would like a professional damp proofing company to take a look then contact DBI today and book a site survey with one of our certified damp surveyors.


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Value Adding Basement Conversion Ideas

5 Space Maximising and Value Adding Basement Conversion Ideas

If you are done with using your basement as a dump, where you throw everything that you do not find useful in the house, but you do not have the heart to throw it away, then converting your basement into a useable space is ideal.

Basement-Conversion-Before

If you have decided that you want to make your house’s basement a useful space that does not only make it more functional, but it also adds value to your property, we have five ideas for basement conversions that will not fail to impress you.

Read on to discover them and maximize your basement space.

Gym

If you are a fitness fanatic or hate going to the gym every day, then you can bring the gym to your home! With a basement gym, you will save thousands on a gym membership every year. Moreover, you will not be bothered with hygiene as you will not share your equipment with others. There are tons of benefits to having a gym at home. Having said, you can enjoy working out at your own pace without worrying about the scheduled gym timings.

The best thing about converting your basement to a gym is that you will not have to invest too much money for conversion. You have an option of either starting with a complete gym set or a few essential equipments only.

Music Studio

A basement is a perfect place for a music studio! Why? Because it is easier to sound-proof a basement than other parts of a house.

Especially, if you have a high ceiling, a basement would be an ideal place for a music studio. A basement studio allows you to disconnect from the world and focus entirely on creating musical masterpieces. You can play instruments for as long as you like without receiving neighbours’ complaints.

Cinema

If you want the perfect cinematic feel at home, converting your basement to a cinema would be a fantastic idea.

In case your basement does not allow too much light, then converting your basement into a cinema would be an ideal option because you wouldn’t have to pay extra money for making your cinema lightproof. With having your own basement cinema, you can invite friends over and enjoy cinematic surround sound and high-resolution 4K display at home at any time of the day, and on any day of the week.

Underground Parking

Parking is always a plus! It is not only the ultimate solution to the limited parking space in front of your house, but it also adds value to the property. If you are worried about having limited space in your basement, you can extend parking space by a double-tier lift, and park two vehicles in the same place instead of a single-vehicle.

Bedrooms

This conversion idea might sound a bit boring, but if your primary goal is to add value to your property without spending too much on the conversion, then you should invest on converting the basement to bedrooms.

Houses are usually valued on the number of bedrooms they offer, each decent size bedroom will add thousands to a property’s value.

You can make one or more bedrooms depending on the amount of foot space available, or you can even convert the basement into a large studio apartment or annexe.

Other Ideas

As well as the above ideas, many people also convert their basement into a:Basement

  • Utility room
  • Playroom
  • Home office
  • Kitchen

Some people may also look at using the space within the basement to create a swimming pool or transform it into a self-contained flat. With enough space and budget, most things are possible.

Danford Brewer & Ives are basement conversion experts.  With many successful projects completed, we are the perfect partner for anyone looking to have a basement conversion.  To discuss your plans further simply contact DBI and book an appointment for one of our site surveyors to visit you and run through the options with you.


Basement-Conversion

Basement Conversion Considerations

Top 6 Considerations to Keep in Mind before You Start Basement Conversion.

You might have dreams of building your dream cinema to enjoy Saturday nights with your friends at home, or you might be thinking about taking your passion to the next level by building a gym Basement-Conversion-Afteror a music studio in your basement.

If you want to make the most out of your basement by converting it into a more useful space, then make sure that it is not an impulsive decision. Make sure that you go through our list of considerations that you should keep in mind before starting with your basement conversion project.

1. Consult a Professional before Starting

You might be excited and all pumped up to start a conversion project as soon as possible; however, it is essential to consult a professional to ensure that your house’s structure allows you to dig into the basement or not.

It is necessary to know how deep you can go into the ground because not all homes are built with a basement plan. So, rather than starting a project impulsively and regretting it later, you should consult an experienced architect, engineer or contractor and discuss the possibilities with them.

2. Don’t Miscalculate Your Budget

Once you start a basement conversion project, you cannot leave it halfway. Make sure that you get all the estimates from professional, experienced builders to avoid miscalculation. You cannot afford any miscalculation, thus consult a professional to ensure that you know how much money you would need to complete a project. Make sure that you keep a surplus amount just-in-case.

3. Get Legal Permission

Make sure that you consult the legal authorities to know whether you have legal permission for a basement or not. Checking if you need planning permission from the local authority is essential, as is compliance with Building Regulations and The Party Wall Act.

A company experienced in basement conversions would be able to guide you about how much time it requires for you to get legal permission and what terms you will have to agree with according to the legal agreement.

4. Make Sure That It Is Water-Proof

If your property is located in an area where the underground is usually damp, then you need to get help from a professional, ensuring that your basement is dry. Making sure that your basement is waterproof will help you protect your house from structural damage.

It doesn’t matter if you are planning to make a music studio or even a swimming pool, you need to ensure that your basement is completely waterproof.

5. Sufficient Lighting

Depending on the possibilities, you need to make sure that you make all efforts for maximum natural lighting in the basement. Moreover, if you have planned to convert your basement into a living area, bedroom, annexe, or a kitchen, then natural light will provide the basement with a refreshing environment, making it more welcoming.

6. Décor is Important

It is a horrible idea to overload your basement with furniture and decorative items. Basements are already considered dark and dingy; so overloading it with furniture will not be a good idea when looking for basement conversions. Thus, you should focus on keeping it simple and fresh.

Danford Brewer & Ives are basement conversion experts.  With many successful projects completed, we are the perfect partner for anyone looking to have a basement conversion.

To discuss your plans further simply contact DBI and book an appointment for one of our qualified site surveyors to visit you and run through the options with you.


Damp-Survey

Damp Surveys - What to Expect

What to Expect from a Damp Survey?

No one is looking for nasty wet surprises. Damp surveys ensure that there are no hidden surprises for you that might be causing major structural issues.

A damp survey is essential, especially when you are purchasing a new property. Once damp surveys are completed, a Damp Survey Report confirms whether a property is affected by damp or not. If yes, then it tells about what extent the property is damaged - mainly, the structure of the property.

As simple as it sounds, it might not be so simple. A simple damp survey can take about 1 to 4 hours. A surveyor usually examines a property physically before going to the next step and using specialised devices for damp detection.

The surveyor checks for indoor and outdoor flooring, wallpaper, floor lining, ceiling, gutters, downpipes, water lines, radiators, windows, and almost every single place where damp can set in. The surveyor makes notes of the findings. Sometimes, the surveyor might write down the conclusions of a few lines, but at times, there can be several paragraphs. The surveyor might also capture pictures of the damp damaged spots during a survey.

All of the data that is gathered by the damp surveyor is essential to make a damp survey report. A surveyor carefully stores every bit of information that he/she reveals during the physical examination of a property. Experienced surveyors are usually able to detect damp spots without the help of moisture detectors; however, if there are no signs of damp, a surveyor confirms it by using a moisture detector.

Sometimes, sellers purposefully try to disguise damp with fresh wallpaper and decorative items. Detecting damp might be too difficult in such cases; this is where surveyors take help of the moisture meter.

A damp survey does not only help understand the damage caused by damp, but a surveyor also points out the spots in the house that require immediate attention and damp treatment. The surveyor recommends measures to be taken for treatment of the damp damage. Also, it recommends whether or not professional help is required.

This is the reason that it is essential to ensure that a seller offers the latest damp survey report. Purchasing a property without a damp report can be a huge risk because you might end up buying a property that looks damp-proof; however, it might have severe damp issues that could lead to structural problems.

Overall, the damp surveys are essential for not only detecting damp damage but also help in figuring out the best ways to treat the damp damage. Also, the damp surveys can reveal how much it would cost to make your property damp-proof.

Even if selling your property is not on your mind, a damp survey is still essential, and is highly recommended; especially, if you live in an area that receives heavy rainfall and is prone to damp damage. Above all, the damp surveys help in ensuring that damp is not causing any structural issues to your property.

Danford Brewer & Ives are qualified and certified surveyors in structural waterproofing and remedial treatments.  All specialist works are covered by long term independent insurance backed guarantees.  If you are looking for a trusted company to carry out a damp survey then contact Danford Brewer & Ives today and book an appointment with one of our certified damp surveyors.


Damp-Survey-App

New Damp Survey App

New Application Case Study

Background
Danford, Brewer and Ives (DBI) offer a range of building services including damp proofing, timber treatments and basement conversions to customers in Yorkshire, Teesside, and Cheshire.

The Problem
We identified that our internal processes were lengthy and relied too much on traditional paper processes. Also, departments were working relatively separately which slowed down job completion and affected staff morale.

We were looking for an app-based solution that could streamline traditional paper-based processes and improve interdepartmental working.

The Solution
DBI worked closely with Genesis so they could understand our business and the issues we were experiencing. They studied each department, the tasks they completed and how each department
formed part of the complete job process from initial enquiry through to completion.

They looked for ways to simplify each part of the process, where possible and ensure that all information could be stored securely online, but also be accessible without a mobile signal.
Damp-Survey-App
Genesis ensured the solution would be straightforward to use, to maximise its usage. The Genesis development team built a back-office system which utilises Microsoft.net and is hosted on Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform. There is also an app designed to be used on a mobile device when our staff is on-site.

“We have been running the app for over a year now and the efficiency savings are clear. Some of the best points for us are the co-ordinating of what were separate procedures, the survey section of the app makes us more consistent and ensures that important information is passed on at each stage. Improved efficiencies meant that a member of office staff who left did not need replacing. So far we have made annual savings in excess of £15k. ”
David Ingham. Managing Director

How The Damp Survey App Works

Time Savings

  • Back Office: 4.5 hours per week/ 18 hours per month
  • Surveyor: 2 hours per week/ 8 hours per month
  • Supervisor: 1 hour per week/ 20 hours per month
  • Operatives: 2 hours per week each. Example: 5 operatives save 10 hours per week or 40 hours per month. That's an extra "man week”

Benefits

  • Significant reduction in paperwork - all tasks are completed electronically
  • Improved efficiencies- employees complete each section of the job and it moves through the stages until completion
  • Increased customer satisfaction- customers receive quotes faster and if they call for an update staff can tell them what stage the job is it because they can access all the job details
  • Built-in templates- the app automatically pulls through key information to prevent the need for retyping
  • Job transparency - anyone can look up the status of a job, who is working on it etc.
  • Improved scheduling- jobs can be assigned for specific days and times which improves
  • planning and resource allocation
  • Always up to date - each time someone logs in they download the latest data
  • Associated documents saved within the system -time sheets, risk assessments, photos etc. can be completed and saved within the job

rising damp treatments

The Top 4 Rising Damp Treatments

Water ingress is an inevitability. And for property owners it’s also an ongoing struggle, akin to a magician’s plate-spinning routine: just when one problem is fixed, one of the other structural weaknesses will start to teeter.

Whether you live in a farmhouse or a block of flats, the potential for damp looms large. For the latter (save for the upstairs neighbour leaving their bath taps running) condensation, and rainwater would be the main worries. For the homeowner, it’s all of the above - the full-house, as it were.

In this blog, we shall concentrate on the full house. What is rising damp exactly? It’s the common term given to the upward movement of groundwater in the lower sections of walls.

The process is known as capillary action (think of ink rising up blotting paper) and is characterised by a "tide mark" on affected walls.
The tide mark is caused by salts contained in the groundwater. When the water evaporates, the salts will crystallise, causing plaster to deteriorate.

With water continually creeping upwards, the situation will perpetuate and worsen.  Depending on the circumstances, wallpaper might peel; wood will become damp and rot. Moreover, a damp wall will lose more heat than it would otherwise.

It’s perfectly possible that the property already has damp proofing. For example, older houses tend to deploy a layer of slate between the brickwork, while modern houses include damp-proofing in the form of a synthetic damp proof course (DPC), about 15 cm above ground level.

Both serve as a barrier through which water cannot pass. Well, that’s the theory! The reality, however, is that a damp-proof course can be broken or incomplete, which allows moisture to find a way in. This is known as ‘bridging’.

All of this is, of course, the result of our inclement climate. But there are other factors that may hasten the moisture’s collection and progress. Poor drainage, for example, (check crawlspaces and/or the basement for standing water) or that the ground level next to an external wall might have been raised over time. Air bricks might now be blocked, and the ground level might now stand above the original damp-proof course.

So how is rising damp treated? It depends on the severity, and each case is unique. Leading examples of the rising damp treatments which Danford Brewer & Ives offer are:

  • The removal of surrounding soil or bridging material to a minimum of 150mm below the existing damp-proof course;
  • Injecting a chemical damp proof course or in some instances an electro-osmotic system;
  • Replacing any damp or rotten flooring;
  • Removing and replacing any plasterwork, skirting boards, radiators etc. if necessary.

A note of caution: we cannot stress highly enough the competence and experience of the person(s) investigating the problem. Misdiagnoses can and do happen; if the wrong form of treatment is administered, the chances are that it will have a little overall effect.

For example, salts left by rising water might cause plaster to yield; however, the heat from a fire can also cause salts in masonry to crystallise. As such, any damp proof course work in that particular area would be completely unnecessary.

At DB&I, we insist that our surveyors have the industry-standard Certificated Surveyor in Remedial Treatments (CSRT) qualification. (From 1st January 2018, this has been re-named Certificated Surveyor of Timber & Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB), yet it continues to be recognised as a professional qualification for surveyors in the property preservation industry.)

If you have any queries – whether it’s about treating rising damp, damp proofing or any of the other building services Danford Brewer & Ives offers, such as timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions or building maintenance – then please contact us. As ever, we’d be delighted to hear from you.


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Benefits of Basement Waterproof Tanking Systems

The different methods of waterproofing a basement and benefits of basement waterproof tanking systems

At the time of writing, it is getting colder and the rain can be incessant. Spending time in a cellar
might not, therefore, hold much appeal. One might venture down there to rummage for the
Christmas decorations, notice the damp and the wet, shrug, then head back upstairs thinking of
festivities warmed by log fires and the odd tipple.

That’s Christmas. But what about the New Year? Resolve, resolutions and renewal? Maybe; maybe not.
Yet it’s as good a time as any to consider how converting your cold, damp cellar might offer more
living space and, for the investment, a proportionally greater increase in property value.
In a climate such as ours, a damp cellar is a fact of life: without protection – in older buildings, say,
with floors built from rough slabs, stone or brick – hydrostatic pressure will result in water ingress.
Soil-retaining walls will be vulnerable – particularly where the cellar floor joins the wall – and, at best,
the cellar will only be suitable for basic storage (so remember not to park those decorations too
close to the walls).

It’s self-evident why tanking is named so: in effect, a waterproof tank is created. However, its job is
to keep the water out not in.

There are three methods of waterproofing a basement, they can be used separately or sometimes together:

A) Barrier protection. This process relies on an unbroken ‘monolithic’ membrane to keep
moisture out. It is achieved by applying different impervious coatings – cement renders,
slurry, resins, bitumen-based products, spray on systems and bonded sheets – to the existing
floor and walls.

B) Structural integral protection. In this method, the structure itself (waterproof reinforced
concrete) is the protection. This method might be used when constructing a new basement,
usually in combination with A or C, to meet new building warranty requirements.

C) A cavity drain membrane (CDM). This works by placing the drainage on the inside of the
structure, between it and a plastic membrane. Water then drips down the outside of the
membrane, gathering in a drip tray-style drain before it flows to a sump pump and then an
external drain.

We will discuss cavity drain membrane (CDM) some more, since not only is it our most popular solution, it is also the cleverest and, arguably, the most effective.

For starters, a CDM prevents a gradual pressure build-up against the construction. With options A)
and B), it would be necessary to dig drainage on the outside of the tank. With option C), however,
the drainage is on the inside; the moisture’s progress is halted by the plastic membrane. Moreover,
the air gap allows the structure to ‘breathe’ and dry out.

The membrane is usually a high-quality, high-density plastic such as polyethylene. It will be studded
in appearance – allowing water to drip down to the drain – and comes in various thicknesses e.g.
3mm, 5mm, or 8mm, and up to 20mm for the floor membrane. It will also be gas and vapour-proof
and will have a long-lasting guarantee e.g. 10 years. It is applied using sealed, fixing plugs.
The drainage channels are created around the basement perimeter, leading to the sump chamber,
while floor insulation will first be applied to offer maximum resistance to ground moisture
penetration, before a floor membrane is laid for added waterproofing.

Where the wall membrane meets the floor membrane, vapour tape is used. In this way, a secure
moisture barrier is placed over the seams and it also strengthens the joins, keeping the membrane in
place.

The sump pump, meanwhile, is installed at the beginning of the process i.e. when only the basement
shell exists and before the membrane is applied. It is fitted in the sump chamber – the lowest point
of the basement – and connected to the drainage channels underneath the membrane walls. The
groundwater is then pumped out to an external drain.

With a lid on the chamber, the screed will be laid over the floor membrane and, depending on the type
of membrane used, plaster might be skimmed on to it directly.
Another solution is ‘drylining’, in which metal or wooden framing is fixed to the membrane, allowing
for a drywall finish. After that, the basement may be ‘fitted out’, with electrical and plumbing
fixtures added.

The work is always done in accordance with BS8102- 2009 – the code of practice for protection of
below ground structures against water from the ground.
At this point, the waterproofing would be completed. However, if the work were part of a larger
project, Danford Brewer & Ives might hand over to a partner e.g. a builder, architect or property
developer.

If, for example, we were assisting a property developer, we might advise them on making the best
possible use of available space and land. It might also be necessary, say, to provide underpinning if
the conversion of a basement compromises the structural integrity of the property by weakening the
foundations or removing walls.

The potential offered by tanking is enormous. And by making use of our expertise (Danford Brewer
& Ives are qualified surveyors with both CSRT (Certificated Surveyor in Remedial Treatment) and
CSSW (Certificated Surveyor in Structural Waterproofing) credentials) both householders and
building partners can gain significant living space and add value.

Moreover, we are skilful, efficient and cost-effective. If you would like more information on tanking,
structural waterproofing or any of the other building services Danford Brewer & Ives offer, such as
timber treatment, extensions or building maintenance – then please contact us. As always, we’re
more than happy to help.


Case Study: Basement Conversion Playroom Harrogate

Basement Conversion Harrogate - Playroom

Danford Brewer & Ives undertook a basement conversion on a property in Harrogate during the spring of 2018.
It is a terrace house, constructed of stone, with a slate roof, brick chimney, UPVC guttering, wooden windows and stone flag floors.
The owner’s intention was to convert the basement into a playroom for his children.  They also wanted a utility room, a toilet and two storage areas/cupboards, each separated by internal walls from a landing that leads to a new staircase.
The process was as follows:

  1. Damp Survey

We first needed to ascertain what level of damp the existing basement had. The survey was restricted to the basement and our readings (taken with the aid of an electrical conductivity-type moisture meter known as a Protimeter) revealed evidence of rising and penetrating damp to all areas, as well as water ingress.
Two major causes of the damp were the high ground levels and structural abutments, so we recommended that either the external levels were reduced or an internal barrier, incorporating a waterproofing agent or membrane, was applied and fixed to those areas - at least up to the level of the newly installed damp-proof course.
(NB We did not undertake a structural survey and always recommend that any worries/queries regarding such issues should be resolved using a suitably qualified person.)

  1. Structural and basement waterproofing

All structural and basement waterproofing work was undertaken in accordance with British Standards Document BS 8102:2009, the code of practice for the protection of below-ground structures against water.
It specifies a level of protection (grading from 1-3) based upon the end use of the conversion. In this instance, since it is being used as habitable accommodation, the required grade was 3.
One assumption BS 8102:2009 makes is that ingress will occur during the conversion’s lifetime - caused, for example, by a change in the water table, drains becoming blocked or heavy rainfall causing localised saturation.
After careful consideration of various methods of controlling persistent water entry, therefore, we recommended installing our cavity drain system to all areas indicated on the plan.

  1. Drainage

The cavity drain system’s effectiveness is based upon discharging free water, before pressure builds behind the system.
For this to be possible, an effective and fully maintainable drainage system was installed.

  1. Preparatory Work

The existing ceilings were stripped, with plumbing and electrics relocated in the ceiling.
Some timber repairs were required in the utility area. Where there were signs of deterioration, the timbers were cut back and replaced by either steel support brackets or resin ties.
The existing opening into the floor void was increased to approx. 2.4m wide by installing a new concrete lintel (that was subject to a structural engineer’s approval). An area, approx 1200mm back into the void, was then lined with a membrane and framed out to form a new storage area.
The existing single skin brick wall in the utility area was removed (no structural replacement was required) and the stone staircase was broken out and also removed.
We lifted the existing stone flagged flooring, which was kept for the client, and the floor was excavated by a depth of approx. 100mm to allow for the build up of the membrane and floor finishes.

  1. Waterproofing

A sacrificial screed was poured incorporating a 100mm x 75mm perimeter rebate. Once the floor was cured and prior to membranes being installed, the concrete was treated with an anti-lime coating to stop the build-up of free lime within the cement and prevent the drainage from blocking.
The walls were lined with an 8mm studded Cavity Drain Membrane. This was installed to at least the height of damp course level.
A perimeter drainage channel was installed, complete with servicing flushing points. The drainage falls and collects within the sump chamber and any water build-up is discharged via the twin pumps located within. Each pump has its own independent fused spur supply.
Once the drainage and pumps were installed, we flood-tested the system.
The floors then received a 20mm CDM which was sealed to the wall membrane as required. The system was then flood-tested again.

  1. Fit out

To be compliant with current building regulations, and as the basement is a habitable space, insulation was required (our specification was subject to Building Control approval).
We laid a minimum 50mm close cell insulation board on top of the floor membrane and covered it with a 22mm water-resistant floorboard.
The external walls of the basement were lined with 75mm timber frames and fitted with 75mm rigid foam boards. The internal walls were battened out using 50mm x 25mm timbers.
We also installed a new timber staircase.
A toilet area was formed under the stairs, supplying a new WC and basin. The foul waste collects in a chamber within the utility room and discharges into the nearest foul waste drains externally.
The ceiling received a 100mm wool insulation and all surfaces were then lined with a 12.5mm plasterboard.
The rooms were fitted out with a softwood skirting board. New doors were fitted to both the living area and utility room.

  1. Fixing to or through the waterproof systems

When fixing through the membranes, careful consideration was taken, including the possibility of an alternative method.

  1. Non-earth retaining walls

We carefully marked the position of the fixing at the required point and drilled. We filled the hole with a high-quality mastic and then inserted a propitiatory plastic fixing plug. More sealant was applied around the hole to form a seal before inserting the screw.

  1. Earth retaining walls

Specialist fixing plugs with purpose-made seals were used in order to maintain the integrity of the membrane.
It is important that the flushing/service points are easily accessible so that regular maintenance can be carried out to the drainage system to ensure that no blockages occur. Maintenance programs are available and are a condition of the guarantee.
As the works described involve a Party Wall, the Party Wall Act 1996 was therefore applied. This requires the owner of a property to notify his/her neighbour(s) of the proposed works and obtain the neighbours’ consent. A neighbour cannot unreasonably withhold consent, but should you require further advice or information, please initially contact our office or a suitably qualified party wall surveyor.
Danford Brewer & Ives are very aware of Health & Safety issues and dangers within our industry. Any work that we carry out is done so safely, in the best interests of our customers, the general public, and ourselves.
Guarantees
Upon completion of our specialist remedial works and full settlement of our final invoice, Danford Brewer & Ives issue a 10-year independent insurance-backed guarantee.
The client was thrilled with the final results and tells us the children are using their new playroom all the time.  If you have any plans to convert your basement into additional living space then contact Danford Brewer & Ives for expert advice and support.
Here is a short video showing how the project progressed and finished up.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=461GGEh6QMg


woodworm

Woodworm Treatment

Woodworm treatment

The term woodworm might conjure up cartoon-type images, but it is, in fact, something of a misnomer since it tends to be a different type of creepy crawly - beetles - that inflict the damage.
And there is one main offender: Anobium punctatum aka the Common Furniture Beetle. Although it mainly thrives outdoors, infesting the likes of tree trunks, branches and the like, the Common Furniture Beetle can cause serious damage if ever it creeps and crawls its way to indoor timber.
So how might that happen? Spring and summer is the time of year when the reproductive process starts – the beetles emerging from the wood crevices that are normally their habitat before the females return to lay eggs, which usually number around 30.
The eggs will hatch about a month later and the grubs will then bury themselves even further into the timber. They will spend about two to four years there, eating the wood and slowly maturing into lavae.
The lava will then dig a chamber just beneath the surface of the wood and the pupation process will begin – culminating when the adult beetle cuts a hole in the surface of the wood. Thus the process repeats itself.
It’s the by-product of the reproductive cycle – the beetle’s emergence holes and the dust (known as frass) they create – that are the tell-tale signs of woodworm infestation.
The infestation can be highly significant because, depending upon the conditions, it can occur in a number of different timber types and products: from wooden ornaments, through furniture and building timbers.
It goes without saying that the latter can prove a particular problem: if left unchecked, an infestation of building timbers can compromise your building’s structural integrity, leading, in the most extreme cases, to total collapse.
In highlighting such an eventuality, it must be pointed out that there are other offenders besides the Common Furniture Beetle. There is, for example, the Death Watch Beetle, or Xestobium rufovillosum, which tends to be found in older buildings, particularly those with hardwoods that are either damp or have been affected by fungal decay.
And there is also the House Longhorn Beetle aka Hylotrupes bajulus. Larger than the other species, it can infest sapwood (the soft outer layers of recently formed wood between the heartwood and the bark) and is mainly associated with roofing timbers.
The good news, demographically-speaking for a North Yorkshire-based company like Danford, Brewer & Ives, however, is that the House Longhorn Beetle limits its habitat to just a small part of South East England. Even so, spare a thought for the owners of properties that suffer infestations: if left unchecked, they can lead to severe structural weakening in just a short period of time.
So how to go about treating such an infestation? When one is discovered, a particular course of action should always be recommended by a team of experts, who will assess the conditions and circumstances surrounding the case.
First of all, a surveyor will make a thorough inspection of the infested timber, noting the type of wood, its accessibility and assessing the various risks.
Then, the timbers will need to be cleaned thoroughly to remove excess debris, before preservatives are applied.
A common and cost-effective form of treatment involves either spraying or using a brush to apply water-based insecticides.
Treatment of smaller items such as furniture or even ornaments can, meanwhile, be undertaken using either heat or freezing treatment, as well as gas fumigation.
All such methods require both training and a high measure of competency and it goes without saying that DB&I’s team are more than capable of undertaking such specialist work. Moreover, we’re always keeping our eyes peeled for any new innovations and methodologies.
If you would like more information on woodworm - or any of the other building services Danford Brewer & Ives offer, such as timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions or building maintenance – then please contact us. As always, we’re more than happy to help