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Extending downwards rather than outwards or upwards is becoming more popular

The hit song from the 1980s ‘The Only Way Is Up’ may be challenged by the more recent trend of home improvements; lately the opposite is all the rage as more homeowners decide to build downwards and convert basements or even have one dug out from scratch.

Meanwhile conservatories – once the doyen of home improvement and extending a property – are declining in popularity.

Home improvement

The home improvement industry is huge with homeowners spending at times considerable sums converting lofts, garages, building extensions, adding a loft conversion or a conservatory in a quest to create increased space and improve their home.

Time honoured improvements such as new kitchens and bathrooms are always popular, but lately garage and loft conversions have become more commonplace as have basement conversions.

There’s certainly been a change in fortunes for conservatories compared to other home improvement options; a survey conducted by Halifax Insurance revealed conservatories declined by 3% in a five-year period up to summer 2017 while basement conversions soared by a remarkable 183% in the same period.

The cost of housing – especially in areas such as London and the south east – make it very expensive for people to move, not to mention the costs of moving generally. If it’s possible to adapt a present home to cater for new needs with a home improvement, this is often far more economical and certainly less disruptive than moving.

Making the choice

The question to ask yourself is what you want from the space and what’s the best way of obtaining it. The humble conservatory, whilst pleasant in many ways, as we have already seen, is declining in popularity; this is likely down to the fact that they are not always a usable space all year round due to difficulties heating in the winter despite advances in multi glazing and heat insulation.

Even in the warmer months – when conservatories are generally at their most used – at certain times of the day the space can become too hot or uncomfortable and suffers excessive glare when the sun is in a particular position, making it a less than pleasant place to be.

There are also limitations on what use it can be put to; they don’t make an ideal extra bedroom or even a year-round home office due to the above possible limitations.

The simple issue of space is also a barrier, as not all gardens are large enough or suitable to add a conservatory.

So where conservatories are losing a degree of appeal, basements on the other hand are becoming increasingly popular especially in parts of London particularly where space is at a premium. Terraced townhouses for example can’t be extended upwards, to the front, side or rear, leaving building downwards as the only way to go.

Development in building techniques and the simple fact there are more basement conversion companies offering their services from digging out to professionally installing a below ground basement tanking system, makes this a much more viable, attractive and cost effective option.

It allows a space to be created that will form an integral and usable part of the property, and of course the scope is endless; from incredible cinema rooms to below ground swimming pools and underground carparks.

What we can see is an ever-changing trend in our building requirements although the goal is always the same; to improve the space in which we live and maximise the potential of the property. We just need to consider the options available to us, what works relative to our wishes, our location, building and land constraints and of course our budget.


Discussing how basement conversions are hugely popular as home improvements while conservatories are declining. Reasons as to maybe why this is the case.