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Basement Specialists


improve dont move

“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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Ashton Kutcher surprises his mom with …a basement 

Ashton Kutcher surprises his Mum with …a basement 

February 28, 2020


We love this story… it’s not only heart-tugging from a mother-son perspective, but for us, as specialist basement conversion experts, it’s even more exciting.  


With the help of Houzz and an interior designer, Ashton converted a dark, dingy space into something truly spectacular for his mother.  

 Read how and what he did with his parents’ basement in this article. 



And… if you’d like to see his detailed video diaries… Here they are…including his mum’s reaction to her fabulous new basement conversion.  

Surprising your mum with a new basement isn’t possible for everyone [Symbol], but have you thought of converting your basement into a space that you’ve always been dreaming of… perhaps a cinema room, a gym or even a swimming pool?  

If you’d like some advice and suggestions on how and where to start, give us a call. Basement conversion are ‘our’ thing. We’d be happy to have a chat … with absolutely no obligation… literally just a chat on what your options are. 



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 o our recommendations with no obligation. 

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Basement Ventilation

How do I make sure my basement is well ventilated?

February 21, 2020

Ventilating your basement, whether you are in Fulham, Knightsbridge, Kensington, Wandsworth or anywhere in the London or the UK is one of the most important considerations when converting your basement into a habitable, living space.  

Basements, given their location in the property, are known to be damp, mouldy spaces, characterised by unpleasant odours and mildew and moisture problems.  

The science behind it is that moisture from the earth seeps into walls and floors. When this cold moisture collides with warmer basement air, condensation develops. Excessive condensation creates a musty smell and becomes a breeding ground for mould and mildew spores.  

According to the Basement Information Centre in the UK, building regulations require the provision of ventilation to all basements (heated or unheated) to adequately control moisture vapour, whether it is generated internally or brought through from the structure.  

Cross ventilation or passive stack ventilation are the most effective forms of natural ventilation although continuous mechanical ventilation may be required depending upon proposed use and internal arrangement of rooms. 


For spaces with anticipated high levels of humidity, such as utility rooms, bathrooms or gyms, mechanical ventilation is essential.  Ventilation should be directly applied to exposed external walls where possible i.e. not through the basement retaining walls.  

Stack ventilation is ventilation through a vertical vent duct and mechanical ventilation uses fresh, outdoor air. This type of system may be as simple as placing small window fans in opposite windows or as technical as installing an exhaust fan with ventilation pipe. Many homeowners opt for a mechanical ventilation because of the great flexibility and automation it provides.  


So, what are the key irritants that a good basement ventilation system combat? 


  1. Moisture 

Moisture in your basement air can be influenced by the outdoor air moisture, first-floor moisture, soil air moisture, and the HVAC systems connected to your house. 

You can generally tell if your basement has a high degree of moisture if it smells musky, damp, or just feels more humid than the rest of your home. If you are unsure, take a look at the walls, floors, and corners to check for moisture spots. You can also try to find any condensation on surfaces throughout the basement. 

A damp basement can lead to unpleasant smells and climate for mould growth. Moisture is the most common reason you should ventilate your basement, as nearly all homes in all climates are vulnerable to its effects. 


  1. Mould  

Mould can cause allergic reactions and pose a health hazard to the occupants of a home. 

The symptoms of mould can be hard to distinguish from common cold symptoms, so homeowners often don’t realise the extent of their mould problem until it has grown. 

 If anyone in your home has persistent congestion, throat irritation, coughing, or eye itchiness, it could be said mould might be the cause of the problem. 


Moisture solutions generally tend to work as mould solutions. It is important not only to clean up the current mould build-up but solve the moisture at the source. If the moisture is not resolved, this issue will keep on reappearing. Basement ventilation solves both moisture and mould problems at once by dispersing the air carrying them out of your home. 


  1. Radon 

Radon is a dangerous invisible toxic gas, and the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United Kingdom. The gas is released from the decomposition of uranium in soil and rocks, meaning basements are particularly susceptible to it. 

Most people are exposed to small amounts of radon all throughout the day, and basements as well as other underground structures are more prone to higher radon levels. Although it is rare to take the uranium out of the soil around the house, you can minimise its effects through proper ventilation. 


We understand that this can all get very technical. As basement conversion specialists, we make sure that this is not your problem.  

We take care of  ‘all things basements’ – Click on the link to download our Free Basement Conversion Guide where you’ll find some of our most inspired basement conversions and general advice and tips on what you could do for yours.  

Give us a call if you’d like to discuss your basement conversion plans. 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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basement lighting

Let there be light… in your basement

February 7, 2020

The word ‘basement’ often conjures up images of darkness, dinginess and fear… well, if you are a movie buff that is. However, in our world, basements are literally a dream come true.

They are a symbol of luxury with basements being converted into spaces such as cinema rooms, swimming pools, gyms and family rooms… a far cry from the images of darkness often depicted in the movies.

In London particularly, in areas such as Fulham, Chelsea, Kensington and Knightsbridge, basement conversions are a source of pride and envy amongst friends and family; each one grander than the next.

One of the most important, but sometimes overlooked aspects about basement conversions is lighting. Given, it’s position within the home, both literally and figuratively, basement lighting needs to be a well-thought out plan.

If you are converting your basement, we recommend working with your lighting designer and builder to create a lighting plan that suits the purpose of the room, whether it’s a TV/Cinema room, gym or wine cellar.

Basements, by virtue of their location, do not get much natural light. One of the key factors when designing the lighting is to understand where there is, if at all, any natural light and how to best make use of it and maximise its impact within the space.

On a slightly technical note… although your lighting designer and builder will know this, it’s always good to know a little something yourself

Think about the ambient lighting. The ambient lighting is the overall lighting in the room. How bright do you want your space? If it’s a cinema room for example, you may want a more subdued form of lighting than if it’s a games room.

Ceiling lights are normally recommended to create enough light for a dark space. Explore ways of getting light into the ceiling through wall lights or coffer details. Often, washing the walls with light will help the space feel light and bright.

That leads on to the colour of the room. If your light is designed to reflect the walls, to “wash the room,” think about using lighter colours for the walls. Lighter colours reflect light better, especially if your basement does not get much natural light,

LED lights are usually the most commonly used as they are both energy efficient and bright.

One of the clever things many lighting designers do is to create fake skylights using artificial lights to replicate the colour temperature of the natural light. Check with your lighting designer if this is possible… you may not need it if you have some natural light coming through.

It’s important to think about making basement lighting flexible and this can be done through a combination of adjustable fittings, lighting tracks, spotlights and 5 amp sockets for floor and table lamps.

Discuss using multi lighting circuits with your electrician and lighting designer to ensure this flexibility.

Another way of being creative is to use coloured lighting to emphasise the main features of the room particularly a gym or cinema room. But be careful not to overdo it or your home can look like a seedy nightclub.

With limited ceiling heights, basement conversion lighting needs to be clever and well-designed. Whilst you may have a good idea of the lighting you want in your basement; we recommend you consult a building team (like us[Symbol]) who work with an experienced lighting designer to transform a dark space like a basement into something truly spectacular. You never know what clever solutions we can come up with.

Give us a call if you’d like to discuss your basement conversion plans and how lighting might work to enhance the look and feel of the space. . 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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Award winning design

And the winner is… 

January 24, 2020

We thought we’d start the new year with some inspiration… Every year, The Daily Telegraph and Homebuilding & Renovating team up to find the best individual homes the UK has to offer, from the finest self builds to sensitive renovations, brilliant extensions and imaginative conversions – and importantly, to celebrate the achievements of their homeowners. 

Find out the 2019 winners 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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Period Living Cover SDA

SDA Build London featured in Period Living Magazine

January 17, 2020

We are delighted to share that our home restoration and refurbishment project has been featured in the February 2020 edition of Period Living Magazine.  

You can have a sneak preview of the magazine or purchase it here.


Period Living SDA inside page


Or if you’d like to find out more about the project and how it unfolded, have a look on our website 

The Old Vicarage in Henley on Thames was one of our favourite projects. It was a true labour of love and focused on preservation and restoration of period feature whilst adding a touch of the modern.  

If you’d like to learn a little more on the ‘hows’ of renovating a period or listed building, have a read of one of our blog posts written last year – “How complicated is it to work on a listed building.” 

Give us a call if you’d like to discuss a home restoration project.  We can be contacted on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk to discuss how we can help.  


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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to Keep Renovation and Build Costs under Control

Smart Ways to Keep Renovation and Build Costs under Control

December 27, 2019

Whether you are undertaking a house extension in Chelsea, or a basement conversion in Kensington or a general home modernisation project in London, budget is likely to play a crucial part in your decision making process.


This article in Houzz gives some practical suggestions and top tips on some smart ways of keeping the lid on when it comes to budget, for example, your kitchen worktop. Learn some truly innovative ways of staying on top of your budget when doing a home renovation project.


If you’d like some more detailed guidance and costs on your home extension 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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side effects of a home renovation project

Recognise these? 5 Common Side Effects of Doing a Renovation

December 13, 2019

We love some of the articles in Houzz…they’re interesting, practical and relatable, like this one on the ‘side effects’ of a home renovation project. 


Living through major building works isn’t easy. Even if you’ve planned every last detail, the reality of having builders and decorators in your home for months on end can drive anyone slightly mad. Here, then, are the unofficial side effects of going through a renovation project – and some tips on how to come out the other side with your sanity, relationships and bank balance intact…. 


Read the rest of the article 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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high end basement bar chelsea

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 cost cheque money

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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