Yorkshire based independent residential & commercial chartered surveyors.

Property Professionals Urged to Examine Radon Risks for Conversions, David Moor Chartered Surveyors

As the property market continues to struggle in the fluctuating economy, an increasing amount of home owners are turning to extensions and new builds in order to boost property value and achieve a more spacious living area. The growth of this expansion mantra has seen basement conversions become an incredibly popular choice, as they offer the necessary additional living space, whilst also being light and dry.

The BS 8102 code of practice refers to the protection of ground structures, especially against water infiltrating the new build for the surrounding ground. It also provides essential guidance for basement waterproofing, whilst reminding us of the importance of taking radon into account in terms of build design and implementation.

Radon Explained

As a naturally occurring gas, radon is produced during the decay of uranium which is present in small quantities in the surrounding ground. Over time this can accumulate in buildings, which can have potentially fatal consequences – Radon Kit estimate that 1,000 to 2,000 lung cancer deaths in the UK are caused by radon exposure.

Construction Management and Mitigation

It’s a common assumption and worry that water will infiltrate a cellar, causing severe interior decorative degradation but also water damage too. The same worry should certainly apply to radon exposure, especially as the consequences can potentially be considerably worse.

In order to prevent such disasters, it’s essential to put the necessary precautions in place, although this can be incredibly difficult. If designed incorrectly, it can have a reversed effect and increase radon levels both in the basement, as well as the accommodation that sits above it.

The current best practice that is used in the majority of property developments is extensive waterproofing. C-type drained-cavity systems are installed, and work by allowing moisture from the surrounding ground to penetrate the basement walls, before falling behind the membrane into a drainage channel.

By using the correct techniques, it is possible to create a dry and healthy basement, however without following the proper precautionary steps and regular surveyor testing; property professionals are potentially walking into a time bomb of severe liability claims.