Pleystowe House, Reigate, Surrey

Large 17th century west wing to an original Quaker meeting house. Existing, medium sized cellar under the original house, with a poor 1.67 head height throughout; shared walls as property split into 3 individual residences.

We had to carry out a complete basement construction, excavating under the main body of the ground floor towards the rear of the property, either side of one of the chimney breasts, to create two further rooms - one a music room and office and the other a boot room and shower room/toilet.

We had to extensively excavate the floor to enable a head height of 2.4m overall.  The entire structure had to be underpinned and most walls at basement level were around 600mm – 2 feet thick. In places they were even thicker than this.

Water and LPG gas supplies ran through the basement and these had to be up-rated protected and concealed within the new insulated ceilings.

The clients stayed in residence throughout the build with four young children and, although a little draughty, were able to go about their everyday lives unaffected.  Many tons of spoil was removed from site and we created a very large sunken garden to act as a light well for the new basement construction.

The site was very wet indeed and is in fact now sporting one of our most complex small waterproofing systems to date.  This consists of a huge single sump which can hold thousands of litres, with two mains backed-up, 1600w, twin vortex pumps. The system performs well within capacity but will automatically contact our office and the client, via text message, in the unlikely event of a high water level alert.

The clients asked us to open the main stairwell up, leading down into the basement, so that the children could be observed playing as this was to be their new space. SCS BEL were also commissioned to install all the wood flooring and the AV system which plays host to many a family Wii contest.

There is an original, huge, oak beam visible in the basement that, over the years, this has bowed and dropped in the middle, causing the floor above to sag. Without altering the beam in any way, we were able to help reverse the effect to the floor above; the beam is now a show piece, newly stained, in the final finished basement conversion.

The large light well to the side of the property drains directly into the waterproofing system, where the water is sent to the field runoff for the rainwater from the rest of the property. The rainwater from the roof to the front of the property was overpowering the drains, so we redirected this to our waterproofing system. This handles the extra volume of water easily and pumps it away to the field runoff and thereby solves the problem our clients had with puddles near the front entrance to the property.

This is truly a grand space for the family and has many areas for extra storage. The former, wet basement that would periodically flood, has been completely transformed. It is now a light, airy and dry basement that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

The space is in constant use by our clients and their family and we are certainly happy to have worked on such an old property so steeped in history.