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“Don’t Move…Improve” Contest Shortlist. London

March 6, 2020

Have a look at these incredible home renovation projects that were short-listed in the coveted 2020 “Don’t move, Improve” contest.  

There are 25 projects shortlisted to win this year’sDon’t Move, Improve!contest – an annual awards programme held by New London Architecture (NLA) to showcase “the ingenuity of residential design” in London. 

Have a look at the shortlist here 


If you’d like some guidance on your home improvement project, give us a call on 02081917595. Or better still, book a FREE consultation with us and we’ll visit your property, discuss your ideas and share some of our recommendations with no obligation. 

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Does my extension fall under Permitted Development?

October 11, 2019


Does my extension fall under Permitted Development? 


We’ve talked about Permitted Development in our previous article on Planning Permission, but there have been some recent developments we thought we’d update you and explore Permitted Development in greater detail.  

In the first week of October 2019, the Government announced the scrapping of the need for planning permission for a two-storey extension. The measure was drawn up by Chancellor Sajid Javid and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick at the Conservative Party Conference.  

This has huge implications for homeowners and builders as it does away with a potential obstacle in a house extension project. The easing of planning permission would make it easier for homeowners to expand their homes upwards, with approval from neighbours no longer being a requirement. 

There have been a number of revisions of Permitted Development rights in recent years: one particularly key change occurred in May 2019 when it became possible to build larger rear single-storey extensions under Class A of Permitted Development. 

Certain home improvements fall within different classes within the Permitted Development rules. Under Class A, homeowners require prior notification for extensions (enlargement, improvement or alteration). Under Class B, homeowners can build additions to the roof; Class C is for other alterations to the roof; Class D is for porches; and Class E is for outbuildings. 

This implied consent of Permitted Development is granted in the form of General Development Planning Orders (GDPOs) which apply separately to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Just to recap.. 

According to the Planning Portal, “You can perform certain types of work without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called “permitted development rights”. 

They derive from a general planning permission granted not by the local authority but by Parliament. Bear in mind that the permitted development rights which apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings. Similarly, commercial properties have different permitted development rights to dwellings.” 

Types of Permitted Development Rights  

In an article in Homebuilding and Renovation, Permitted Development rights fall under several different categories.  

Class A – Extensions (enlargement, improvement or alteration) 

This allows a householder to build a single-storey side extension up to half the width of the existing dwelling; a single-storey rear extension up to 4m in length for a detached dwelling and 3m long for a semi or a terrace house; and, in certain circumstances, 3m two-storey rear extensions.  

The changes that took effect on 30 May 2019 now make permanent the decision that larger single-storey rear extensions of up to 8m (6m for semi or terrace) are permissible under Class A — but do require prior notification (see ‘Lawful Development Certificates are key’). 

Class B – Additions to the roof 

This allows for rear dormers and hip-to-gable extensions as long as the additional volume created does not exceed 50m3 (40m3 for semis and terraced homes). 

Class C – Other alterations to the roof 

Class D – Porches 

Class E – Buildings etc. (outbuildings) 

This allows for an outbuilding to be erected within a residential curtilage as long as it is sited behind the principal (often the front) elevation, does not cover more than 50% of the curtilage and is not more than 3m in height (4m for a dual-pitched roof; 2.5m where within 2m of a boundary). 

There are also specific regulations relating to Hard Surfaces (Class F), Chimneys & Flues (Class G) and Microwave antennas (Class H). 


How do I apply for Permitted Development? 

If you are completely sure your project is permitted development you can start your building work and you do NOT need to pay for Permitted Development. For proof that your building work is lawful you should apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.  

Lawful Development Certificate is a legal document regularising unauthorised or confirming permitted development building works when you don’t have to go through the process of obtaining planning permission.  

In other words, it essentially is a means of obtaining a decision from the planning authority that a proposed use or works do not require planning permission. To get a certificate of lawful development you need to make an application for one to your local planning authority, which you can do through the Planning Portal website and they usually take 8 weeks to obtain.  

To a apply for a lawful development certificate, you will need… 

  • An application form (from the planning portal) 
  • Evidence verifying the information within the application. 
  • Architectural plans and elevations 
  • A site location plan 
  • A fee 

Lawful development applications come with the following fees… 

£103 in England 

£85 in Wales 

£101 in Scotland 

Permitted Development for Home Extensions in London 

  • You can extend a detached dwelling by 8m to the rear if it’s single storey or 3m if it’s double 
  • Semi-detached and terraced homes can be extended up to 6m to the rear of the property if single storey 
  • There are height restrictions, but they boil down to a single storey extension not being higher than 4m in height to the ridge and the eaves, and ridge heights of any extension not being higher than the existing property 
  • Two storey extensions must not be closer than 7m to the rear boundary 
  • It must be built in the same or similar material to the existing dwelling 
  • Extensions must not go forward of the building line of the original dwelling 
  • Side extensions must be single storey, maximum height of 4m and a width no more than half of the original building 
  • In Designated Areas side extensions require planning permission and all rear extensions must be single storey 
  • An extension must not result in more than half the garden being covered 
  • You can only do it once and the original building is either as it was on 1st July 1948 or when it was built. In Northern Ireland it is as it was built or as it was on 1st October 1973 

** We recommend that you make an appointment with the planning officer at your local council to understand their specific requirements as each council has different standards.  

Confused? We don’t blame you. It’s a lot of information to digest and understand. But if you take it step by step, it will make the entire process much smoother.  

The first step to your home extension project is to appoint an architect. You cannot proceed if you do not have an architect. It is your architect who will submit your plans to the council. If you need help finding an Architect, why not download our FREE Architect Guide.  

At SDA Build London, we know how stressful and complex planning applications can be. Applications that are rejected often have to be revised over and over again and can cause delays to your extension project.  

As we have been working in the West London area for several years, we are well-versed with the do’s and don’ts in the area with regards to what the council will allow and what they won’t. We suggest you give us a call [Symbol] if you have any doubts or need to discuss whether your extension ideas… will get through planning. We can be contacted on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk to discuss how we can help.  

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Do I need a Party Wall Agreement for my House Extension in London?

September 27, 2019

When embarking on a house extension project in London, where we mainly operate, we often get asked by our clients if they need a party wall agreement? Many don’t even know what a party wall is or what a party wall agreement is… just that it’s something they need.

So, we thought we’d start at the very beginning …


What is a Party Wall?

A party wall is the shared wall, usually between a terrace or semi-detached house, and divides the homes of two separate owners. It may also include garden walls built over a boundary and excavations close to a neighbour’s property (within three or six meters, depending on the depth of the new foundations). Party wall Awards or Agreements are most commonly needed for building projects that involve loft conversions, basement excavations, internal renovation and extensions.


What is a Party Wall Agreement?

The Party Wall Award or Agreement is a legal document that is drawn up by the two-party wall surveyors or by a single surveyor (if he/she is are acting on behalf of both the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner or the neighbour). The aim of the Party Wall Award is to resolve any disputes between neighbours as a result of a building project of the one of the neighbours.


The Party Wall Award essentially consists of three parts:

  • The Award or Agreement that states how and when the building works are going to be carried out.


  • The Schedule of Conditions – This is an important part of the Award. It is a detailed record of the current condition of the adjoining property. This will include recording existing issues such as cracks, staining, holes, decay, discolouration, leaks and other defects, disrepair or deterioration along with accompanying photographs. The party wall surveyors will then undertake a re-inspectionof the building after building works have been completed to determine whether any damage has occurred as a result of the building work and whether any repairs need to be carried out.


  • Structural drawings of the proposed works.


The Award must also clearly state the names and address of the Building Owner or Owners and the Adjoining Owner/s names and addresses as listed in the land registry or Company House records in the case of a UK listed company along with details of the surveyor or surveyors.


What else should be included in the Award?

Working hours – e.g. 9:00am – 5:00pm

Proof of the builder/contractor’s public liability insurance

Any indemnities for the Adjoining Owner or neighbour

Clarification of any damage and the steps that will be required to rectify them

Access arrangements to the adjoining owner’s property

Adjoining Owner’s or neighbour’s surveyor’s fees

Costs to be paid by an Adjoining Owner or neighbour for contributing towards the cost of repair to a party structure.

Agreed compensation to paid to the Adjoining Owner or neighbour

Security arrangements

Noise considerations


Usually, the Award is initially written out in a draft format and made final once both parties have agreed on the details. There is a 14 day right to appeal if either owner feels something is amiss, however, this is usually rare, as most of the issues are likely to have been ironed out before the Award is finally drawn up and legally signed and witnessed by the appointed surveyor(s).


How long is a Party Wall Award valid?

A Party Wall Award is valid for 12 months from the date of its service. This would mean that the building owner must commence the proposed works within 12 months of the date of the Party Wall Award.


Do you need a party wall agreement?

If you share a wall with your neighbour i.e. your property is a semi-detached or a terraced property, you will need to draw up a party wall agreement with your neighbour. If your property is detached, you may still need a party wall agreement if your property is within three to six metres of your neighbour’s external wall. This is also dependent on the depth of your foundation. Party wall Awards are important to avoid from unnecessary disputes and conflict between neighbours.


What happens if a neighbour reports damage to his or her property because of my extension?

The first step is to appoint a party wall surveyor… You may have already done this if you appointed a party wall company to draw up your agreement.


Once the appointed party wall surveyor(s) have been notified there are three possible routes to go down, all at the choice of the neighbour.


  1. Perhaps the most amicable route is when the building owner and the adjoining owner discuss and agree on a course of action without engaging the appointed party wall surveyor(s). In this scenario you and your neighbour agree between yourselves on arrangements for the damage to be made good or for a financial compensation to be made.


  1. The appointed surveyor(s) identifies the scope of the repair works by cross-referencing the pre-works condition report and a written schedule of repair works is drawn up and agreed between them. Your neighbour agrees for your contractors to undertake the repair work scoped by the appointed surveyor(s). Your neighbour may also request that the appointed party wall surveyor(s) confirm that repairs have been carried out satisfactorily on completion.


  1. The third route is as point 2 however instead of carrying the repairs you agree to pay your neighbour a financial compensation based on determination made by the appointed surveyor(s). Your neighbour can then choose to appoint their own contractor to carry out the works at their convenience.


The SDA Build London team know that this is a complicated area. We work closely with reputed party wall professionals who will be able to advise you on the best way forward for your particular home extension project. Given that most of our projects are in Chelsea, Kensington, Battersea, Fulham and surrounding areas where the majority of homes are semi-detached or terraced, we understand the importance of Party Wall Agreements.


Give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk to discuss how we can help.



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All you need to know about House Extensions in London… in a nutshell!

September 16, 2019

London has seen a surge in house extensions, basement conversions and loft conversions in the last five years. With soaring stamp duty costs and the high overall cost of moving, homeowners with growing families who need the extra space are increasingly choosing to increase the area in their existing properties rather than up sticks and move home.

Setting out on a house extension project requires, amongst other things a healthy amount of patience [Symbol]. There are several details to consider and decisions to make.

We suggest that you begin by creating a project management spreadsheet (we’ve created one for you) even if you have a dedicated project manager so that you are both on the same page with regards to costs, timelines, delivery schedules and communication with various suppliers.

The first step is to appoint an architect. Your architect is probably the most important person in your project. Make sure you appoint an architect that understands your needs and your vision and is able to marry the two with a plan and solution that your local council will approve.


The Top London Residential
Arhictects 2019

The SDA Build team have meticulously curated a list of talented architects serving the London and Greater London areas. All the architects on our list are RIBA certified and have vetted by Houzz.

I’m ready to download

Whether or not you need planning permission will depend on the scope of your plans. Do you want a single storey extension or a double storey extension? How far do you intend going out? What are the current rules with regards to planning in your local council? All these will determine whether you need to apply for planning permission or whether your works fall under permitted development guidelines. Your architect should know this.

This process usually takes about 8 weeks. You can either sit back and relax or start researching on the various other decisions you will have to make such as:

  • Rental property if you are moving out
  • Flooring and carpets
  • Heating
  • Windows
  • Internal Doors and door fittings
  • External Doors
  • Electrics and lighting
  • Tiles
  • Bathroom furniture and sanitaryware
  • Kitchen furniture and appliances
  • Blinds
  • Fitted furniture in bedrooms
  • Patio or decking
  • Paint colours
  • Home alarm & entertainment system

The list can go on depending on your house extension project, whether it’s a kitchen extension, a bedroom with an en-suite, a guest room, a playroom or games room, a home office or even a gym.


Types of extensions

Single Storey rear extension

If you have a good-sized garden at the back of the house, you could extend the back of the house out (subject to planning rules) and create a more intimate experience with your garden. Large sliding or bifold doors along with an open plan space, can give you an added sense of light and air and almost brings the outdoor, indoors.

Double Storey rear extension

If you feel you need more living space upstairs, perhaps larger bedrooms or an en-suite bathroom or a home office, you could build additional space on top of your single storey extension. In some of the properties we have worked on, we have created luxurious bedrooms with walk-in closets, fitted wardrobes, children’s studies and guest rooms… the possibilities are limitless.

Side extension

Several homes have space between the side of their homes and the fence. Why not think about extending the house into this space? For many home owners this is the perfect opportunity to open up the kitchen, create a home gym a guest room or a room for ageing parents or even a home office with perhaps a separate entrance.

Wrap around extension

As the name suggests, a wrap-around extension is a side and back extension around the existing home. You are effectively changing the layout of the house in totality, allowing you to re configure and re plan how you use the area. You could open up the downstairs completely (this is currently what’s on trend in London.), to give yourself an open plan kitchen-living space or create a games room or even a state of the art cinema room.

As a company that provides a complete design and build service, we have worked with a number of clients in the South East of the country to help them through the entire process of building their house extension, right from the start with architectural design and planning permission, through to the finished product.

If you are planning a house extension and need some guidance on how to go about it, give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk to discuss your project.

To have a look at the kind of work we have done, why not download our free brochure? And if you need any help with managing your building project, our free project management checklist has been hugely popular.

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Loft Conversion – Types of Loft Conversions

June 21, 2019

Converting the loft in your home can add valuable space to your property giving you the much-needed ‘extra room’ for a home office or study, master bedroom, with en suite bathroom and walk in closet, kids’ bedrooms, yoga room, games room… well, for practically anything really.

There are a few standard ‘types’ of loft conversions most commonly used across London. The kind of loft conversion you choose for your property depends on a number of factors including budget, height of roof, council permission and its intended use.

Dormer Loft Conversion

This is the most popular type of loft conversion, where the extension projects vertically from the slope of the existing roof, creating a box shape. This loft extension generally requires no dramatic changes and allows for the installation of standard windows.

Dormer loft conversions are usually suitable for most homes in the UK and are one of the most cost-effective ways of converting your loft as structural alterations are at a minimal. In most cases, these types of conversions fall under permitted development rights and whilst they are not the most aesthetically pleasing, their box-like shape gives the space added head room, light and ventilation.

Mansard Loft Conversion (Named after French architect Francois Mansart)

A mansard loft conversion is situated to the rear of the property and is one of the more complicated types of conversions. The Mansard has a flat roof, with the back wall sloping inwards at an angle of 72 degrees with windows being housed within small dormers.

Mansard roofs will always require planning permission and are a common feature across London and other urban area, particularly in rows of some of the older terraced properties.

Mansard roofs are suitable for almost all types of properties including bungalows, detached, semi-detached and terraced houses.

Due to its complexity, Mansard conversion are more expensive to build than a dormer conversion.

Hip to Gable Loft Conversion

A hip to gable loft conversion straightens an inwardly slanted end roof to create a vertical wall. This type of loft conversion extends your property on the sloping side, effectively replacing the sloping roof with a vertical wall (the gable) at the end to the same height as the ridge and filling in the space in between.

If your property has two sloping sides and you replace them both with vertical walls, it will be a double hip to gable loft conversion and will obviously provide you with even more space.

In most cases, it is not necessary to get planning permission for this kind of loft conversion, however, we recommend you or your architect check with your local council to make sure, especially if you have previously carried out works that fall under permitted development.

If your property is detached or semi-detached, and has a hip-end roof, then this sort of loft conversion is a good option to consider.

A hip to gable conversion is also suitable for bungalows and chalets. Bungalow owners, however, need to take extra care as sometimes the structure will not be able to cope with the added strain a conversion will put on it.

If your property is a mid-terrace, then a hip to gable is obviously not possible as there is no hip-end to the roof. If yours is an end-terrace, however, a loft extension of this type could be viable.

Whatever style your property, the roof must be of sufficient height between the top ridge and the joists of the ceiling below to allow the creation of sufficient living space. If the original height is not there in the first place, then a hip to gable loft conversion will not be viable or cost effective.

Roof Light Conversion

This is the simplest kind of loft conversion and involves adding a roof light and securing the flooring to make the loft a usable space in the property.

Obviously, this is the most cost-effective (almost 25% cheaper than the others) of all loft conversion types as it requires practically no structural alterations. (Find out about the average cost of loft conversions here). As a result, this type of loft conversion is most likely to get approval in conservation areas across London where planning rules are extremely restrictive.

To be able to construct this, you will need 2.25m of head height in the middle of the room, leaving space to safely build up the floor and unlike other types of conversion, it doesn’t open up any more useful space than what already exists. As the head room is limited, the stairs may have to come into the middle of the room.

Whilst planning permission may not be required if the roof light windows are at the back of the house, you may need to obtain permission if you are planning this at the front of the house.

Converting the loft in your home has several benefits, not least the value-add to your property. Many of our clients in London have found that it is more cost-effective to convert or extend their property than undergo the hassle of moving home, incurring exorbitant stamp duty charges and family upheaval.

The SDA Build London team, specialists in all kinds of construction in the London and surrounding areas, have years of experience in advising clients on their best options for home improvement and renovation and creating dream spaces they could only dream of.

To have a look at the kind of work we have done, why not download our free brochure? And if you need any help with managing your building project, our free project management checklist has been hugely popular.

Give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk to discuss how we can help.


Book a free consultation in the comfort of your own home and share your design ideas with us. Our team will them come up with a unique solution for you and your home

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Basement Excavations and Conversions in Chelsea and Westminster

April 18, 2019

If you live in the Chelsea & Kensington area, then you know that it’s all about basements. You’ve probably seen your friends and neighbours, like Jemima Khan and Andrew Lloyd undertake home renovation projects with basements excavations and conversions.

In fact, according to an article in the Telegraph, a few years ago, developer Alan Waxman built a house not too far from Chelsea- in Notting Hill, that has two basement levels. The back garden has been lowered so that it stands at upper basement level through and open plan kitchen. In the lower basement he’s built a gym and bedroom.

Another trend is the “Garden Basement”. Literary Agent, Ali Gunn has a 33 foot subterranean reception room under the entire length of her garden.

According to an article in The Independent, there were 4650 planning permissions granted between 2008 and 2017 in the upmarket central London areas. Of this, over 1000 were in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Quoting from the article, “It is the 785 large and 112 mega-basements that should be the real focus of our interest. These almost 900 excavations are on a different scale to the standard constructions. Together they contain: 367 swimming pools, 358 gyms, 178 cinemas and 63 staff spaces. We also found 14 car lifts, seven art galleries, two gun stores – and one owner who admitted to building a “panic” room…

Perhaps the most “luxified” development we discovered was one that had been granted planning permission in Holland Park in 2013 under a large semi-detached house. It consisted of a new three-storey basement under the entire property and part of the rear garden.

It includes a staff kitchen, staff bedroom, six WCs, a gym, a media room, a family room, a family kitchen, a guest bedroom, a guest kitchen, a laundry room, a drying room, a sauna, a steam room, two shower rooms, a jacuzzi, a plunge pool, a pantry, a full-sized swimming pool and a beach. Yes, a beach.”

In fact, if you have about thirty minutes, watch this BBC documentary on Millionaire Basement Wars in London to enter a world where the words luxury, lavish and splendour are understatements. It’s truly an eye-opening documentary so be sure to watch it, if you are a property or home renovation enthusiast.

One of the perks of building a basement in areas like Chelsea and Kensington is the value-add to the property, as you will see in the video. According to Savills, in an article in the Telegraph, on a standard 4 bedroom period home basement conversion, the value of the property can increase by over 15%.

Not everyone in Chelsea and Kensington however are happy with this basement boom. With the surge in construction, the disruption to neighbours and the neighbourhood, this council receives the maximum complaints from residents with regards to these basement conversion projects. As a result, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have tightened regulations on building basements so that now you can go down only one level and your basement cannot take up more than 50% of the garden space.

With the number of basements being built in Chelsea and Kensington on the up, we have done most of our basement projects in these areas and are well-versed with council planning permission and building control requirements. Not only that, we know what clients in these areas are looking for; state-of-the-art equipment and controls, every aspect bespoke and unique to them and a space that will be the envy of all who visit.

Give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk with your requirements and we’ll be in touch. If you want to get a feel of the high standard of work we’ve done, in some of London’s most prestigious areas, why not download our brochure? We’re sure you will appreciate the high-specs we are used to providing our customers.

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Basement in Chelsea … How much should I budget?

April 12, 2019

The title of this article is wrong. The words ‘budget’ and ‘Chelsea’ cannot be in the same sentence. If you are considering building a basement in the Chelsea or Kensington areas, we recommend that you forget the word ‘budget’ and instead channel words like ‘luxury’, ‘bespoke,’ ‘unique’ and ‘classy.’

Up until recently, the building of basements in London fell within Permitted Development and were an easy way to gain that extra space, albeit at a cost. However, in the last few years, in response to protests against so-called ‘iceberg’ basements (multi-storey basements), that has changed.

Today, you need to provide a full basement impact assessment before you submit your planning permission which involves going to the expense of instructing a structural engineer. Once planning is secured in principal, you have to seek party wall agreements–in itself this can be challenging especially if the property adjoins a house or building containing multiple flats as each of the owners needs to sign a party wall accord–and get building control involved. Planning permission for basements involves a large financial outlay which only the very serious will be prepared to undertake.

For information on submitting a planning application in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, please visit the planning applications section on their website.

The specific Basement Planning Policy in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is available here and whilst it’s a very detailed document, it will give you a good idea of what you may and may not be able to pass through planning when submitting your basement planning application.

Creating living space in a basement is an evolving issue under the planning regime. Currently, converting an existing residential cellar or basement into a living space is in most cases unlikely to require planning permission if:-

1.    A separate standalone unit is not created.
2.    The usage of the basement is not significantly changed.
3.    A light well is not added.
4.    It does not affect the appearance of the property.

Any excavation in order to create a new basement will require planning permission. Any new basement with the following conditions will require Planning permission:

1.    Basements involving major works.
2.    Basements which create a new separate unit of accommodation.
3.    Any basement design which alters the external appearance of your home. For example, the addition of a light well.

Basement Conversion in a Conservation Area: If you are planning a basement conversion or extension to your house in a conservation area, Planning Permission would be required prior to beginning any works. It is absolutely necessary to obtain the required conservation area consent prior to beginning any works. If you live on a ground floor flat and plan to convert your basement into a living space you must apply for planning permission.

The Kensington & Chelsea borough consists of several conservation areas – Conservation areas are sites of historical or architectural importance. Building and redevelopment can be a more complex process due to more planning regulations and constraints applying within such areas.

The streets in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that are deemed part of a conservation area are:

Billings, Kensington Court, The Boltons, Kensington Palace, Brompton, Kensington Square, Brompton Cemetery, Ladbroke, Chelsea, Lexham Gardens, Chelsea Park/Carlyle, Nevern Square, Cheyne, Philbeach, Courtfield, Norland, Cornwall, Oxford Gardens, De Vere, Pembridge, Earls Court Square, Queen’s Gate, Earls Court Village, Royal Hospital, Edwardes Square/Scarsdale and Abingdon, Sloane Square, Hans Town, Sloane/Stanley, Holland Park, Thames, Kensal Green Cemetery, Thurloe Estate, Kensington, Smith’s Charity.

If you are a resident on one of these streets, you need to consider the costs of tailoring your basement build to fit the specific needs of the conservation area.

As a rule of thumb, basements cost between £200 and £300 per sq ft to build the box—where costs go from there depends entirely on you and what you have in mind.

Find out what factors will affect the cost of your basement conversion in a previous article on our website – “Find out how much your basement conversion will cost.”

If you are looking for a dream team to build your Chelsea basement and want the absolute best in quality and finish, do give us a call on 0208 191 7595. We are extremely knowledgeable and experienced with all the requirements, regulations and costs associated with basement excavation and construction in Chelsea and surrounding areas.

We’ll come around, discuss your needs and share some of our thoughts. If you prefer, you can email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk with your requirements and one of us will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

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10 Steps to Finding the Perfect Windows for Your Home

March 28, 2019

There’s no doubt that choosing windows can be one of the most daunting elements of any project, but getting them right is crucial. Have you ever noticed how different your room looks when you pull back the curtains or open your blinds? Windows are magical when it comes to improving the look of a room. The SDA Build London team can transform your home by helping you chose the best windows to accentuate your living space.

This article in Houzz highlights 10 points to bear in mind when you’re planning to install new glazing. We thought it might be useful to you if you are in the process of refurbishing or building a new home.

window types

If you are considering a property refurb or a house build and believe in doing your best to create a home that is harmonious with the environment, do give us a call on 02081917595. Or better still, book a FREE consultation with us and we’ll visit your property, discuss your ideas and share some of our recommendations with no obligation.

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car elevators chelsea

5 FAQ’s about Car Elevators in Chelsea Properties

March 21, 2019

Are you a car connoisseur or collector living in the Kensington and Chelsea borough? We’re sure that you, more than anyone else, know the cost and security risk of parking your stunning, collectible vintage or sports cars the streets of London. Have you considered installing a car park with an elevator in your basement? It’s the ultimate luxury feature that allows you to feel secure in the knowledge that your latest classic Aston Martin or Lamborghini is tucked away safely and that you can take it out for a spin by simply pressing a button.

In fact, not too long ago a Middle Eastern Royal, with a fleet of over 80 supercars paid £21 million for an underground car park in the glitzy Knightsbridge neighbourhood, not far away from luxury department store Harrods. (Independent, 9 Feb 2017).

According to an article in the Daily Mail, one of the latest luxury home improvement features in the Chelsea area has been the £50,000 Thunderbirds-style pop-up garage.

The garage uses a hydraulic platform which can be hidden under a water feature, flowerbed or patch of gravel – or even a second car.

car elevators chelsea cardok

The modern Cardok lifts out of the ground at the touch of an electronic key fob.

Eight underground garages have already been built, four are in production and more than 10 are on order, with interest highest in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Ealing, Dulwich and Highbury.

The hydraulic system allows urban homeowners to hide luxury cars beneath a normal-looking driveway – before summoning them to the surface at the touch of a button on a fob.

We thought we would answer some FAQ’s about car elevators that might be on your mind if you are considering installing one for your exclusive car collection.

  1. How much does a car elevator cost?
      • According to Cardok, their standard parking solutions are available from £35,000 but a lot of projects, especially the made to measure ones, can go over a few hundred thousand pounds.


  2. How high of a ceiling do you need for a car elevator?
      • Car lifts don’t fit very well in garages that are less than 22 feet deep. Ideally, the ceiling should be at least 11 to 12 feet high (though this author has used one – carefully – with a 9 1/2-foot ceiling).


  3. Do I need planning permission to install an underground car lift?
      • Depending on the size and structure of the lift and/or a basement garage, you may need planning permission. We suggest you check with Kensington and Chelsea council once your plans have been drawn up.


  4. What are the types of car elevators available?
      • Car Basement Lift
        Designed for pit installation, this car lift consists of a self-supporting platform with its own roof cover allowing Parking of cars on the lift roof. It uses a scissor mechanism and comes with a ‘Person On Board’ option allowing the driver to remain in the vehicles while the lift is in motion.
      • Pop Up Smart Car Lift
        Ideally designed to optimise parking space in residential homes where a standard above ground garage may have reduced dimensions, the lift will work using the homes standard electric supply and has a very sturdy 4 column structure ensuring perfect stability and easy installation.
      • Scissor Lift with Load Bearing Roof
        This lift not only allows a second vehicle to be parked on the roof when closed, but can be raised and lowered while the second car remains in place.
      • Double Scissor Lift
        Designed to store up to 3 cars, this double scissor mechanism lift allows 2 cars to be parked underground, leaving the driveway free for a third car to be parked.


  5. Who are some of the leading car elevator companies in the UK?
    Some of the most well-known companies who manufacture and install car elevators are:

      1. Cardok
      2. Total Lifting Solutions
      3. Parking Lift Solutions
      4. Sheridan Lifts


    1. If you are planning a complete home refurbishment that includes a car elevator, you will need this to be a part of your overall home design and plan. We believe you will need an experienced construction company like SDA Build to work with the car elevator company to design and build a system that works within the framework and structure of your current property or that will work in your newly refurbished property or new build.If you would like some advice on what we believe, given our experience in the Chelsea and Kensington areas, would be best suited for your home and lifestyle, give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk. A member of our team will contact you and we’ll be happy to visit your property and discuss your options.

      “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” Coco Chanel.

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And then there was light…your lighting design will transform your home

March 11, 2019

Never never underestimate the importance of lighting design in your home. It can make or break the overall look of the room or house.

Homebuilding & Renovating recently published this handy guide to lighting design. We thought we’d share it with you 🙂

All too often the lighting design scheme of a house is left as an afterthought, at a stage in the project when it is often too late to incorporate certain fixtures and fittings without a great deal of disruption and extra expense.

They key to getting the perfect lighting scheme for your new home is to plan early and to talk through your requirements with your architect and electrician.

Who will design my lighting scheme?

A lighting plan is something you can come up with yourself, having assessed the uses, size and natural light levels in each room. Alternatively, an interior designer, your architect, electrician or a specialist lighting company can come up with one for you.

Planning a lighting design scheme

A good lighting plan allows you to begin to shop around for the types of fitting you need early on, but it is also a vital reference for your electrician, who will need to know the location and type of fittings and switches. As a guide, you should ideally begin planning and making provision for your lighting scheme at the same time as you are planning the plumbing.

A successful lighting scheme takes into account each possible use of every room. Begin methodically, ‘walking through’ your plans, or house in the case of some renovations, and in each room, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will this space be used for? Consider all possible uses of each room. Will the kitchen double up as a dining or homework space? Will a spare room also be a study?
  • Will there be pieces of furniture, architectural features such as fireplaces or artwork that you want to highlight in any of these rooms? This will determine your accent lighting.
  • Who will be using this room? It is interesting to note that someone of 60+ years generally needs 15 times more light than a ten-year-old.
  • At what time of day will the room be used the most? For example, if you only use rooms in the evening for relaxing, then setting lights on a dimmers is a good idea.
  • Where does natural light enter the room and from what direction?

Once you have the answers to these questions, draw a plan of the room to help you determine the best points for lights to be situated.

On your plan you should mark down permanent fixtures, such as windows and doors, alcoves, fireplaces and other heat sources, such radiators. Next, mark the direction in which occupants of the rooms are likely to spend most time facing, for example the television, a desk or the cooker. Mark where light switches will be most conveniently placed, concentrating around doorways and at the top and bottom of stairs. Finally, have a think about where you plan to site major items of furniture, such as beds and sofas.

Use your findings from your ‘walk around’ to mark where you would like each light source, be that a pendant, side lamp or downlighter, to be located.

How much light is needed in a room?

Consider the amount and type of light that will emitted from each fitting. Bigger rooms obviously need more light that tiny ones, but to easily calculate the amount of light needed for a particular room, work out the size of the space in square metres. Allow roughly 25 watts per meter(250 lumens). This light need not come from a single source, it can come from a combination of different lights.

Using Natural Light

Before you begin to devise a lighting scheme, consider the amount and type of natural light entering the various spaces you are working on.

The role that natural light can play in the overall feel and ambience of your home should not be overlooked when creating a lighting scheme — it should in fact be a starting point.

Self-builders should consider the orientation of their rooms when looking at layouts. Main living areas and kitchens should, where possible, be south facing, as south facing light is warm and bright all day long. West-facing light tends to provide sunlight at the hottest part of the day, so locating rooms where you spend time during the late afternoon/early evening  here means they will get a softer light at this time. North-facing rooms often get a cold, rather harsh light, whilst those facing east will be bright first thing in the morning, followed by periods of almost no sun later in the day.

Lighting and the Building Regulations

Installing low-energy light sources in new build homes is now a must and building regulations state that 75 per cent of the lights in a new home must be ‘energy efficient’. This means that light fittings must produce a total of at least 400 lumens, have a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt and be over 5 circuit watts. Fittings under 5 watts are excluded from the overall count, so too is any exterior lighting. Fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), LEDs or discharge lamps would conform to this, whilst fitting low-energy bulbs with bayonet or screw-cap bases do not.

Room-by-room Lighting Guide

Kitchen Lighting: Kitchens are no longer just practical spaces — they are also the spot for many social gatherings and family activities, and as such thought needs to be given to the different types of light that will be needed at different times of day.

Once you have a kitchen plan, showing where tables, worktops, the hob etc. will be placed, you can start to formulate a lighting plan.

You will need background lighting (also known as ambient or general lighting) in order to light the whole space properly. Good options in kitchens include recessed downlighters, pendants and spotlights. Position the lights so that they give a broad spread of light, ensuring the work surfaces will be well lit and that the light directed at them will not be blocked out by anyone standing working at them.

Task lighting in the kitchen should be directed down at the hob — this is often achieved through an extract fanincorporating lights. Under unit lighting is a great idea too — really highlighting the worktops.

Finally, feature lighting, such as LED strip lights beneath base units or within open shelving is a great way to create atmosphere when the main lights are switched off.

Living Room Lighting: This is where a really flexible design is required, to fit in with the multiple ways in which this room is used — socialising, relaxing and entertaining. Although it was once common for background lighting in a living room to be provided by a central pendant, this is no longer always the case.

More and more people are choosing to provide background lighting through a combination of downlights and table or floor lamps, which tend to provide a much cosier feel, although for others, the room will not feel complete without a central focus, such as a daring chandelier, even if it is rarely used for anything other than decoration.

In terms of accent lighting, consider uplights beneath fireplaces, downlights in alcoves, picture lights and then use concealed lighting behind cabinets. Finally, if you plan on reading in the living room, don’t forget a few sources of task lighting.

Bedroom Lighting: The main requirements of the bedroom are that it can be bright in the morning and restful at night. In addition to a soft background light, best achieved by table and floor lamps, the bedroom can really benefit from accent lighting that draws attention to a stylish headboard, or wall washers that soften the boundaries of the room.

It is useful to have switches to control the lighting not only at the entrance to the room, but also either side of the bed. Some practical task lighting can also be really useful, such as low-level recessed floor washers near the doorway or at the entrance to an en suite. This is a particularly good idea in children’s rooms or along landings.

Bathroom Lighting: With so many reflective surfaces, bathrooms respond well to lighting. You will need to pay some attention to the various zones when it comes to bathroom lighting and to the IP rating of fittings.

Zone 0 is the area inside the bath or shower, for example. The IP rating denotes a fitting’s resistance to water and what is needed will depend on which zone the light is to be fitted in.

Recessed downlights work well in bathrooms as background lighting. Task lighting, above mirrors for example, can be provided through an illuminated mirror or by lights than run the width of the mirror, or that sit either side of it. Avoid one single downlight above the mirror, as this will be really unflattering.

Lighting and Wellbeing

In his book, Happy by Design (RIBA Publishing), author Ben Channon says,”There are happiness and wellbeing benefits to be gained from good use of artificial lighting. Danish lighting designer Poul Henningsen devoted much of his career to designing glare-free and uniform illumination, which has been shown to reduce headaches and improve productivity.

Studies suggest that emotions are experienced more intensely under bright, harsh lighting, which can have a negative impact on our moods. Artificial lighting temperatures range from warm ‘soft whites’ (2700-3000K) to ‘bright or cool whites’ (3500-4100K) and finally ‘daylight’ (5000-6500K). Each temperature range creates a different effect and can impact our mood.

Soft whites create a warm, cosy feeling. These work well in bedrooms and living rooms as they are calming and can help to us to relax, which is key to our mental wellbeing.

Bright and cool whites work best in bathrooms and kitchens. They create a more energetic feeling and help to give better contrast between colours.

Lighting Low Ceilings

According to Sian Parsons, Senior Lighting Designer at John Cullen Lighting, “Low ceilings can make a space feel smaller and darker, so using lighting to help increase the feeling of height is essential.

“Uplighting to wash light off the ceiling and back down into the space is very effective. It can be difficult to position wall lights in low rooms, so do consider using floor recessed or plug-in uplights or open shaded lamps to help.

“Keep lamp shades light in colour to maximise the light output and ensure that your surfaces give maximum reflection (matt white walls are simply the best!) to help boost the overall reflectance of the light sources that you use.”

At SDA Build London, we work closely with interior designers and architects to understand the lighting needs of the property and implement their ideas. It’s part of a building project and from experience we know how important lighting is to enhance the look, feel and mood of a home. Do give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk if you’d like to have a chat.

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