South coast self-build completed with luxury basement
Chris and Monika Bartscht, PO18 8QH Bosham
“We have had a weekend retreat in Bosham for many years. Bosham is well known for sailing and the area offers many leisure activities. At one point we had to make the decision where we would like to spend the rest of our lives and we decided that Bosham was the perfect place.” Monika Bartscht
Looking for a larger permanent living space, the search began for a bigger house. In 2015 the Bartschts found a large plot in an excellent location with a small 1930s house in need of much repair. It was decided to demolish the old house and start afresh, with the aim to design a modern, sustainable family home, to realise the Bartscht’s vision.
As Monika explains: “We decided to pursue the prefabricated house approach from the start, where the house is constructed off site and then assembled on site. All plans and lay outs are precisely planned and prepared before the individual elements of the house are produced. At the end of the planning process, a fixed budget is agreed and signed off. Building a house with a builder, you will need to make provisions for at least an extra 10% on top of your budget, to cover any changes and complications. An important part of our plans was to have a basement, which was unheard of in a coastal town. Fortunately, someone in Bosham had recently built a basement proving that such construction was possible and safe. The planning and installation of the basement was a big journey for us. One must understand, that the housebuilder would only be responsible for all building works from the ground plate up, what happened ‘underground’ was our responsibility. Little did we know when we first heard this expression what this included. We learnt that ground works are a very big and important part of any building project. We started to plan the space for a basement which should sit under the main house. Our architect recommended including a plant room for all incoming mains, the heating system, the PV system and Tesla battery, the air source heat pump and the hot water system. Thus, one central room in the basement would free up more living space on the ground floor. We always dreamed of having a wine cellar and my husband wanted a big man’s den, where he could build his model trains and listen to music”.
With the designs finalised in the autumn of 2018, the time had come to start the project.
Monika outlines some of the challenges “In order to check the suitability of our clay soil, various soil tests needed to be carried out. It was also important to determine if the rise and fall of the tide affected water levels on the plot. There are some parts of Bosham which are flood areas and there was concern especially from the neighbours that we would fall into this category. However, test results showed there was no change on our ground water level due to the tide levels. Unfortunately, the complex surveying and ground works planning delayed our project by approximately 6 months.”
With all the elements of the project coming together, selecting their basement partner was one of the easier choices. glatthaar had originally been recommended by their prefabricated house manufacturer, confirming they were the only firm who could confidently deliver a totally safe and waterproof basement system.
“We researched the market and there is only glatthaar. They are a highly professional company who build basements and underground car parks and have a lot of big project experience. We felt they would be able to handle a project of our size well. We met with Thomas and Anthony from glatthaar, who have supported us throughout the whole process and were important key players in the completion of the project, always giving good advice. Whenever things got complicated and we didn’t know quite how to proceed, a call to glatthaar always helped us to find an answer. The team stuck with us through the delay and were able to make necessary amendments to the design. They liaised with the housebuilder with whom they had a very good relationship.
We decided to use the glatthaar AquaSafe® basement, because it is 100 percent watertight, a decision we have never regretted. Ground works started with piling, creating a retaining wall, and the big hole for the basement was dug out. Thomas from glatthaar supervised the excavation process and liaised with the ground workers to make sure all works were carried out correctly according to the plans, so that glatthaar’s ready-made concrete slabs would fit into the excavated hole precisely and that all drain pipes were correctly positioned. Once the excavation works had finished the ground slab was poured. Once the special reinforced and treated cement had cured, glatthaar delivered and installed the ready-made concrete walls, which had been produced off site and were brought in by lorry. A crane lifted all panels into position and after a week the construction of our basement was finished. It was amazing to see how all individual slabs fitted together like a puzzle. Finally, the outside staircase was bought in as one massive piece of concrete. Part of the plan was to create an alternative exit from the basement directly into the garden, in addition to the internal wooden staircase, which would be delivered later by the house builder.
After all gaps were sealed, the basement ceiling and the final ground slab was poured. In order to start the construction of our house, the measurements for the ground slab needed to correspond exactly to the approved plans of the house. When the house builder came to verify all measurements of the ground plate, they confirmed that the ground plate was perfect and ready for the house construction to begin.
We think the basement is the best idea we have had. Extending downwards rather than outwards creates living space without reducing the size of the garden. We have gained additional, comfortable living space which is light and airy. Additional day light was introduced by adding a window and a large glass door for direct access into the garden from the basement. Due to the high-quality air circulation in the basement, the air is always very fresh. There is excellent standing height and it doesn’t feel claustrophobic at all. It has provided a fantastic living space for extra activities, be it hobbies, a bit of DIY or having a nice wine tasting with friends. Our basement creates the extra living space we always wanted and makes the house much more complete.
We think the basement is the best idea we have had because not only does it free up storage in our living area, but this extra bit of space is extremely useful. Extending downwards rather than outwards creates living space while keeping the garden. We have an extra comfortable living area, it’s a lovely space and doesn’t feel like a dungeon. It’s very light because we have introduced extra light from the door and windows. Due to the very good air circulation in the basement, the air is always very fresh. There is excellent standing height and it doesn’t feel claustrophobic. It is a living space you use for extra activities be it hobbies, a bit of DIY or having a very nice wine tasting with your friends. Our basement creates the extra living space we always wanted and makes the house much more complete.
Our experience with glatthaar has certainly been super positive. They were there for us at all times. They advised and guided us, providing invaluable information. The quality of our basement construction is of a very high standard and totally water proof. During every building project there are times when problems and complications seem to overwhelm you, but at the end of the day the great result of the finished basement and house compensates more than enough for all the aggravations and complications during the building process.”