2 storey minus basement vs. the same size two storey.

What impact having a separately owned basement apartment

  • Total deal breaker
  • 10% off the price of an equivalent 2 storey
  • 20% off the price of an equivalent 2 storey
  • 30% off the price of an equivalent 2 storey
  • Neutral
  • Positive

0 voters

Hi there!

We’re considering purchasing a 2-storey-over-basement period house, which needs fixing up. To make it work financially, and because the 3 stories are more than we need, we thought to cleave off the basement and sell as a stand alone apartment (of approx 1000 sq ft) assuming we get planning permission.

As it happens, it would be reasonably easy to split the rear garden (which is somewhat elevated once you’re clear of the rear of the house). We could create a sunny patio directly connected to the apartment and install a screened walk way from main house to the garden proper. We’d build a block wall separating the two garden areas to give privacy. We could take other measures to add privacy to both residences.

We also figured to do a decent job of soundproofing the dividing floor - given the ceiling of the apartment would be taken down for fire-proofing.

We’d be happy enough to live in the top two stories, but do have an eye on how much such a move would impact on the value of the top residence should we want to sell at some point. Some friends point out that 3000+ sq ft houses are too big for a lot of people so the impact might not be significant at all!

We’d appreciate what people here might think of such an arrangement. The idea of the poll is to obtain your opinion of the price impact on our two storey arrangement when compared with a normal two storey house of same size,aspect,quality, location,etc. There’d be steps to climb in our case which wouldn’t be the case in a normal two storey period house.

Is there anything else we ought to consider besides privacy / impact on sale price


I own a two storey over basement house which was built in the 1830s, so I am well acquainted with the challenges of doing up these types of dwellings.

If you are concerned that you can’t afford the purchase and renovate the house without selling off the basement level I would recommend that you don’t touch this project with a bargepole.

Basement in these types of properties are notorious money pits, in my case the cost of renovating the basement (ex fixtures and fittings) was more than the cost of renovating the entire rest of the house.

I would also question whether there is a market for a basement split off from a single house in Ireland. I know this type of thing is common in London, but in Dublin?

I lived in one of these as a tenant once.

It is quite nice. You get your own front door, no interior steps and not much noise once the sound-proofing is done well.

Downside is that we kept getting damp problems. Landlord was sympathetic and paid for running a dehumidifier and essentially accepted that nothing could be done.

You see them a bit in certain areas. I think this is one (though it’s a big house; possibly the basement is split into multiple apartments?)

Bonus; note the magical disappearing chair in photos 3 and 4.

I’ve often thought about doing this with a family member, and have always thought that you would be better off designing the basement in such a way that it could be reincorporated into the main house. In practice though I think this would be very difficult. You would have to invest twice - once to separate, once to reincorpate - and I’m not sure you’d recoup both plus a return.

As an example see myhome.ie/residential/brochu … -6/3618739. I viewed this when it came onto the market. It’s currently divided into two flats but to restore it to a full home would be expensive - new kitchen, and considerable renovation of the ground floor. (Then there’s the horrible flat roofed extension to the rear, but that’s separate to this question.)

Interesting, I was just thinking about this for no particular reason yesterday and wondering how people in the UK manage this sort of situation (thinking ‘they must all be mad’ to be honest). If it’s an old brick house, having two different owners could be very difficult if structural issues arise. There are different approaches people take to ‘doing up’ period houses; the approaches of some could more accurately be termed ‘speeding up their demise’. It’s bad enough in a terrace, having to worry about what crazy things your neighbours might be getting up to on the other side of your shared wall, especially with the mania for insulation these days and how the kind of treatment you’d use in a modern house can be really problematic and incompatible with brick/ stone houses. It could be really worrying if you were sharing both foundations and roof unless you are both exactly on the same page with regard to the balance to be struck between conservation (for structural as well as aesthetic/ heritage reasons) and energy efficiency issues or any other structural changes planned.

I do know a family who are doing this at the moment (grandparents moving into garden flat). The fact that they’re all family and (I presume) the grandparents retain ownership of the entire house makes this a reasonable proposition. With strangers it would be a total pain in my opinion. They do this sort of thing in the UK though so perhaps there is a way of managing it. I can’t imagine it’s easy though.

Would you not be better off just letting out the basement rather than selling it? I know someone whose family had grown up who recently renovated a house like this in Dublin 6 by creating a separate own-door apartment in the basement. I remember being told they had rented it for €1,000 a month and that was a while back so they could probably get €1,200+ for it now.

It would be in their interest to leave the rent at €1,000 per month. You are entitles to ‘rent a room’ relief for up to 12k per anum, so leaving the rent at 1k per month means paying zero tax. Increase the rent to 1,200 per month (i.e. greater than 12k per anum) and you have to pay income tax on the full amount. These basement apartments usually qualify for rent-a-room tax relief.

But yes, I would agree - OP should consider renting out the apt as opposed to selling it. The rent-a-room relief is one of the few remaining tax benefits at the moment!

citizensinformation.ie/en/ho … cheme.html

The property would be virtually unsellable with ownership split between two units.
Too much potential for disaster for an owner in that scenario.

Renting is the way to go.

Sounds like an eminently sensible idea to me. I’m struggling to imagine anything that could possibly go wrong.

Having lived in a number of flatland basements over the years we understand the concern. In this case, the basement is dry (and the house in overall good condition: new roof, windows, etc). The issue is overall economics. We could put 50K into the basement and sell for perhaps 250K - a number that contributes to the overall economics. We’re assuming some kind of negative impact on the house above. The question is whether the 200K contribution is negated by the negative impact on the house above + the sale price (to us) of the lot as a whole.

We’ve seen one or two like this but it’s not typical. We’d see the apartment sale as no issue (since apartments typically include above/below living. It’s the impact on the house above we’re trying to assess.

Many times bitten, twice shy. It’s the first thing you do on arrival. Sniff.

That’s the kind of fit out that we were thinking of!

We’re not fans of 3 storeys - they don’t tend to work well with kitchens and living areas in darkness. In our minds, the two storeys can be configured to our requirements - the basement being superfluous to requirements.

The walls are about 3 foot thick in the basement so probably not brick!. The view is (and you have to take a leap of faith at some point) that it’s stood for 130 odd years without cracking/subsiding so there’s unlikely to be an issue in our lifetime.

Good point. We’d figure to sort the apartment (sensitively) such that no one would be inclined to go near it (fundamentally) from here on in.

We’re supposing (from own perspective) no essential difference between below-neighbours and neighbours to either side. It’s ultimately neighbours of one sort or another (our friends moved into their new house recently and brought with them two dogs who seem to bark from one end of the day to another. We can only imagine the groans from either side…).

Practically there can’t be much difference between either side and below but it’s perception we need to figure out. If it’s considered uggh! then uugh! it is - irrespective of the logic.

Not a runner unfortunately. The cash on sale of basement would fund purchase/what happens above. Those funds needed sooner than rental could provide.

See above. Much as we hate paying more tax than necessary. But thanks for explaining the virtues of rental - it makes our pain greater!

As outlined above, renting isn’t an option from a cashflow perspective. We were figuring some kind of negative impact … but somewhere less than unsellable. People buy duplexs (and it appears that duplexes underperform sales wise, all other things being equal), which is kind of what this prospect is.

Our observation is that 3000 square foot houses sell for less per square foot than houses around the 2000 square foot mark - the 3000 square foot houses lying beyond the “sweet spot” for house sizes required by the bulk of the market. The notion is this: while we’d take a hit on price by virtue of being a duplex, we’d gain on having a house close to the ideal that people want???


Although there is no logical difference between neighbours below and to either side, there is something different about neighbours below and neighbours to either side.

The question is how to put a figure on it. We suppose that in the first instance we would know who the owner below is going to be but if selling on, the prospective purchaser wouldn’t. And that would affect the sale price of our two stories.

“Uncertainty” being the operative word these days.

Interesting results so far to the poll. Many thanks all.

A real turn off it would seem.

But (logically) surely a cost could be put on it rather than “not at any price”? If you could get a 2000 sq ft 2 storey period (as duplex, to give it a name) for half the price of a normal 2000 sq ft period …?