Even viewers who revel in witnessing the luxurious lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy may be surprised to discover the latest trend currently sweeping the home design industry in London. For those with a sizeable pocketbook and a bit of imagination, home expansion is no longer just relegated to stacking floors or building vertical add-ons. The super-wealthy are multiplying their square footage by constructing meccas of extravagance in the ground below their existing properties. Millionaire Basement Wars provides an inside glimpse into this escalating movement of underground palaces, and reports on the persistent agitations it has inspired amongst neighbors and city council members.
These aren't your typical basement dwellings. These opulent accommodations offer a new brand of exclusivity and privacy, and oftentimes greater splendor and accessories than their above-ground counterparts. Think high-vaulted ceilings, wall to wall swimming pools, generously spacious wine storage, cascading waterfalls, five-car garages, and lavishly plush screening rooms. From a financial standpoint, a below-ground living space can potentially double the value of a property. The trend has also accelerated a boom in the industries of architecture and construction.
"But living alongside the building of basement perfection," warns the narrator of the film, "can feel like a nightmare for neighbors." Many of the region's most historically significant homes are prohibited from altering existing properties by adding square footage above or off to the side. But no such regulations exist to restrict the construction of underground expansions. Beyond the usual burdens of deafening dump trucks and demolition vehicles, these basement excavations rock the very foundation of a property, and resulting aftershocks, damage and debris are often experienced by residents nearby. In some cases, this foundational manipulation can make nearby housing structures dangerously unstable. "It's a disruption to my own existence," complains one neighbor. "It's a complete lifestyle change where you have no life. It demands an injunction!"
The endlessly entertaining Millionaire Basement Wars shines a light through the cracks which exist behind the gleaming, polished dream of domesticated luxury. In the process, it gives voice to an interesting conundrum: the rising conflicts between the value of neighborhood living and the actual quality of life there.