How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement? (2023)
- It typically costs between $2,800 and $34,500 to finish a basement, with homeowners across the country paying a national average of $18,398.
- The biggest factors that affect cost for this project include the basement size and type, the cost of labor and permits, the project scope, the quality of materials used, and the home’s geographic location.
- Finishing a basement has numerous benefits, including added living space, extra room for storage, increased property value, energy cost savings, and the potential for the homeowner to make additional income from renting out the space.
- Basement finishing can be very involved and complicated, depending on the scope of the project. It’s recommended for a homeowner to hire a professional, especially if the project involves working with plumbing or electricity.
Finishing a basement is an excellent way to create more living space in a home. A finished basement can also provide up to a 70 percent return on investment (ROI) and be an asset to potential homebuyers. But how much does it cost to finish a basement? According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, the average cost to finish a basement ranges from $2,800 to $34,500, with the national average cost of $18,398. Homeowners who want to turn an unfinished space of concrete floors and exposed ductwork into a comfortable, livable space can expect to pay an average of $25 per square foot. Costs can range from $7 to $23 per square foot for basement finishing, with the total depending on the type and quality of materials, the intended use for the space, and the contractor’s labor rates. Labor averages about 20 percent of the overall project cost. Contractors will typically include labor in the total price instead of charging by the hour, so homeowners will want to double-check with their contractor to verify how they calculate their fees. It’s helpful for homeowners to get multiple estimates from several of the best home renovation contractors to compare costs. Before homeowners proceed with their finished basement ideas, there are several factors for them to consider that will affect the overall cost.
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Basement Finishing vs. Remodel vs. Renovation
Even though many people use the words “finished,” “remodel,” and “renovation” interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. An unfinished basement is an area that’s not livable. It typically lacks plumbing, drywall, and insulation, and it usually has concrete flooring and possibly walls. Finished basements, on the other hand, are defined as move-in ready and look as complete as the other areas of the home. A remodel takes a finished basement and guts it for a total transformation. Usually, a remodel alters the design and the structure of the space, adding or getting rid of walls and changing the functionality of the area or the layout of the room. Basement remodeling almost always requires a permit. While a remodel can change the purpose of a room, a renovation simply updates the room’s look. Renovating a basement commonly involves painting, installing new flooring, or changing out lighting fixtures.
Factors in the Cost to Finish a Basement
Calculating how much it costs to finish a basement depends on a few factors. Prices can differ from the national average due to labor costs, permit fees, basement size, the scope of the project, the home’s geographic location, the quality of materials used, and local building code compliance.
The larger the area to finish, the more expensive the project will be. Although the average cost of finishing a basement can range from $7 to $23 per square foot, the total price depends on the quality of the materials the homeowner chooses, the contractor’s labor fees, and the intended purpose of the space. Many homeowners will want to divide larger basements into separate areas by adding walls or partitions, which will drive up the cost.
There are three types of basements in a home: unfinished, partially finished, and finished. For homeowners wondering how much to finish a basement and what the final cost will be, the answer will largely depend on the elements that have already been installed and the ones that will need to be added. These can include plumbing, insulation, electrical. wiring, and HVAC.
While unfinished basements are common, they are not livable. Unfinished basements are often storage spaces for the furnace, water heater, washer, dryer, exposed pipes and ductwork, and maybe an extra freezer. An unfinished basement rarely has insulation, drywall, or finished flooring, but it may have plumbing. Transforming a completely unfinished basement by adding these features is the most costly type of basement finishing project.
A partially finished basement is sometimes called a half-finished basement. It could contain a bathroom, shower, laundry room, exercise equipment, or furniture. It may have some drywall installed, rough-in plumbing, insulation, and heating and cooling, but it is not a completely finished living space like the rest of the house. It typically costs less to finish a basement that is half-finished, since a portion of the work has already been completed.
A finished basement looks as complete as the rest of the home and is move-in ready. It’s an entirely habitable space that can be used as a living room, office, bedroom, gym, or home theater. Some homeowners decide that they’d like to reconfigure the area and opt for a remodel. Basement remodel costs are typically lower than basement finishing costs, since features like plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning are already in place.
Contractors can charge up to $34,000 to finish a basement, with the average labor cost being 10 percent to 25 percent of the overall project cost. Homeowners will want to keep in mind that labor prices tend to be higher in densely populated urban areas where living costs are much higher than in more rural areas.
A building permit can cost about $1,350 on average, with the price depending on the home’s geographic location, the basement size, and the scope of the project. The price of a permit usually includes any required inspection fees. If the basement project involves installing plumbing or electrical work, or it entails making the space livable, the homeowner will more than likely need a permit. Plumbing and electrical work need to be up to code to ensure proper drainage and prevent blown fuses, short circuits, and fires. It’s always better to acquire the necessary permits when beginning a basement remodel. Homeowners who begin a basement remodel without a permit risk a stop-work order from the city along with fines and additional fees. The homeowner may even be required to remove the unpermitted work before the project can continue. If a homeowner ever needs to file an insurance claim on the remodeled area, the insurance company may request copies of the work permits, or they might deny the claim. The process of selling the property may also require copies of any remodeling permits.
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The scope of the overall project includes all the renovations that will be included. Will there need to be concrete work to reroute pipes? Does the plan include adding a bathroom, kitchen, or wet bar to the basement and therefore require plumbing and electrical work? Additional lighting, ceiling fans, and light switches will also require extra electrical work. Other considerations include HVAC, framing, drywall, flooring, painting, ceiling work, tile, and cabinetry.
The national average to finish a basement is $18,398, but the home’s geographic location will affect how much it costs to finish a basement in the area, as the local cost of living will affect labor prices. For example, homeowners in the Midwest may pay about $30,000, whereas a homeowner in New York could expect to pay up to $100,000. The location of the home will also affect the quality, type, and accessibility of materials.
Using lower-quality materials is one way to save on the cost of finishing a basement, but it comes at the risk of compromising the integrity and longevity of the work. Communicating with the contractor is the best way for the homeowner to know where they can cut costs. Since contractors know how to finish a basement, they will be able to give the homeowner sound advice. In the long run, it usually pays to use higher-quality materials so the remodel or renovation will last longer.
Building Code Compliance
When homeowners are finishing a basement, one big concern is compliance with local building codes. The electrical system in the home must be able to handle the increased demand from the finished basement. A contractor will know if the current amperage, or strength of the electrical current, is strong enough. If it’s not, the homeowner will have to upgrade the amperage or install a subpanel. If the basement remodel includes the addition of a bedroom, the contractor will need to install a separate emergency exit (either a door or an egress window), which will have to meet specific measurements. A contractor will be aware of the codes and ensure the project is compliant.
Additional Costs and Considerations
The sections above cover the most common factors that determine how much homeowners will pay for basement finishing, but there may be additional costs depending on each basement and the homeowner’s preferences.
Interior Designer Consultation
Some homeowners decide to get input from an interior designer to help them plan their basement finishing project. While in most cases the contractor can devise a basic blueprint for the space, interior designers can advise homeowners on how to make the best use of the space both functionally and aesthetically. Interior designers typically charge about $50 to $200 per hour.
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Damage and Repairs
If a homeowner suspects any existing damage or issues with the basement, it can be helpful to have the basement inspected and any repairs addressed before starting on upgrades. These repairs will cost extra, but confronting potential water damage, structural concerns, or termite infestation will save money in the long run. Finding out about and taking care of necessary repairs before starting a basement finish is better than discovering a major problem in the middle of the project.
Hazardous Material Inspection and Removal
Depending on when the home was built, an inspector may be needed to test for asbestos or lead paint. If these or other hazardous materials are found within the basement area, professionals will need to be called in to remove or remediate them safely. It’s not recommended that homeowners tackle these situations independently because of the potential health hazards associated with their removal or remediation.
A high-end basement will cost more than a basement that’s been finished with contractor-grade materials, fixtures, and flooring. The homeowner’s choice of fixtures will ultimately depend on how customized they want the space to be. The way the homeowner intends to use the space also affects the overall cost. If they plan to use the space as a wet bar for entertaining friends and family, they’ll need water lines and drains for sinks. If the basement will be used as a home theater, it will need a Wi-Fi router, plenty of outlets, and recessed lighting.
Once construction on the basement has been finished, it’s time for the homeowner to add furniture and other finishes to complete the space. The average cost for furnishing a basement is around $2,100, but this figure is completely dependent on space itself. A basement with only a small bathroom and living area will need relatively little furniture and will cost less to furnish while a basement with a kitchenette or bar can cost up to $45,600 for all of the necessary fixtures and appliances.
Cost to Finish a Basement by Project Type
In order to convert an unfinished basement into a suitable living space, there are a number of features that must be introduced, such as insulation, plumbing, and electricity. Each of these projects will contribute to the overall finished basement cost.
Waterproofing is the first step a homeowner will need to take when finishing a basement. Basement waterproofing costs approximately $4,500. If there is existing water damage, homeowners can expect to add $2,850 for basement drainage repair. Water leakage in the basement can cause severe damage as well as significant health risks associated with mold and mildew growth. Certain types of bugs are also attracted to standing water and damp areas within the home. When a foundation leaks and lets in water, it will develop cracks, which are just the beginning of an even bigger problem. It’s worth a homeowner hiring one of the best basement waterproofing companies for prevention, repair, and waterproofing to avoid these issues in the future.
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Sump Pump Installation
One part of the basement finishing process is installing drains and a sump pump. A sump pump is one way to remedy pooling water because of leaks, foundation seepage, or inadequate drainage. The type of soil surrounding the home will determine the need for a sump pump, as certain soil types don’t drain as effectively as others. A sump pump might also be necessary if the home is situated in an area prone to flooding. The average price for a sump pump installation is $575. It may also be a good idea for the homeowner to have a foundation inspection performed to ensure that there is no underlying damage before beginning the project. The best foundation repair companies typically charge around $5,000 for foundation repair cost.
Electrical Wiring Installation
Electrical work for a finished basement averages around $1,325. Many municipalities do not allow homeowners to install wiring or plumbing on their own. A professional electrician or a contractor who is licensed to do electrical work will install new wiring to finish a basement. Homeowners can expect to pay $75 to $500 each to install electrical outlets. On average, the more outlets and switches installed, the cheaper the cost per item. The homeowner will also need to factor in the cost of permits and inspections to make sure the electrical work is up to code—a reputable contractor can take care of these.
All household plumbing passes through the basement. When a homeowner renovates or remodels a basement, it’s important for them to make sure the design fits around the plumbing. Boilers and water heaters are commonly found in the basement, as well as sump pumps, furnaces, and HVAC systems. Moving these items may not be affordable or advisable. If the remodeled basement will include a laundry room, bathroom, or kitchen, new plumbing will be needed. A licensed contractor or professional plumber can safely install all the required plumbing and make sure it’s up to code. The average rate is usually $450 to $1,000 per fixture. The overall price of plumbing work depends on whether there is existing plumbing in the space or if new plumbing needs to be installed. The quality of the materials and the quantity also affect the price. The cost to finish a basement with a bathroom can range from $8,000 to $15,000.
Egress Window Installation
If the basement is being converted into an apartment or a bedroom, it will need a suitable exit in the form of a door or egress window. An egress window, which costs $3,900 on average, provides an alternate escape route from the area in case of a fire or other emergency. A professional may have to excavate land and reframe an exterior wall to meet building codes. This will result in additional costs to the basement finishing project. For a window to be considered an egress window, a uniformed firefighter must be able to fit through it.
Homeowners can expect to pay between $5,000 and $11,000 to install heating and air-conditioning in a basement. If the home’s primary HVAC is not powerful enough to accommodate this extra space, it may be necessary to install another unit in the basement for an additional $2,000 to $5,000. A mini-split system (a ductless system that allows residents to control the temperature in one specific room) may be the best choice for a smaller basement; this option tends to be more affordable at about $660 to $4,500.
Framing and Insulation
It costs $1,795 on average to frame a basement, not including insulation and drywall. Framing costs approximately $7 to $16 per linear foot on its own but $20 to $30 per linear foot with drywall. The cost of insulation is $1,650 when using 3 ½-inch batt and roll barriers. Insulation assists the HVAC system so it doesn’t have to work as hard to heat and cool the home.
Building and drywalling a basement ceiling costs about $1,700. Professional contractors will often include the price of ceiling drywall in the room drywalling and framing costs as part of the entire project. Some municipalities may require specific measurements for basement ceilings to be up to code. If the ceilings don’t meet the height requirement, the homeowner may need to have ductwork and pipes moved to raise the ceiling.
Finishing a basement floor costs between $1,500 and $4,500 on average, with the cost of 500 square feet of flooring typically running $3,000. For hardwood, homeowners can expect to pay up to $22 per square foot and between $3 and $11 per square foot for laminate and carpeting. It’s crucial for basement flooring to have moisture barriers installed to protect it from damage. The cost to finish basement flooring by painting or staining the existing concrete is likely to be lower than the cost of installing new flooring over the concrete.
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Installing drywall can cost about $2 per square foot or $1,750 on average. A 400-square-foot basement will cost around $800 for drywall, while a 1,500-square-foot basement will be approximately $3,000. Contractors usually include the cost of labor with the overall price of installation. Homeowners can expect to pay $12 to $20 each for drywall panels. Adding drywall to basement walls will help the homeowner reduce energy costs and improve their carbon footprint when heating or cooling their home.
Painting a basement costs $1,800 on average. Renting a paint sprayer usually costs around $100 per day; hiring a professional to do the work will cost between $300 and $500. Many homeowners design and decorate around plumbing pipes and ductwork by painting them the same color as the walls and ceiling.
Benefits of Finishing a Basement
Finishing a basement is a great way to transform an unused space into a beautiful area for entertaining friends and family. Some benefits of a finished basement include added space to the property without constructing an addition, added value, energy cost savings, and potential rental income.
Added Versatile Space
An unfinished, unused basement is a huge waste of square footage. Transforming that unused area into a livable space will create an area that homeowners will enjoy for years to come. There are many ways homeowners can use the extra space after finishing their basement. Some practical ideas include using the area as a playroom, a craft or hobby room, a wet bar, a home theater, a bedroom, an apartment, a home office, or a laundry room, or even a combination of these if the space is large enough.
Many homeowners have experienced the horror of retrieving a box from the basement only to find that the contents have been affected by water damage, mold or mildew, or pests. While plenty of people use their unfinished basements for storage, having a space that is temperature controlled and free of excess moisture will provide a safer environment for their belongings.
Added Value and Return on Investment
The average basement finishing project can add up to 70 percent return on investment. Many home buyers are looking for a home with a finished basement, and some may even raise their offer when purchasing a home with one. Adding this improvement to the home creates value by generating more livable space. When the house goes on the market, it will stand out by having a game room, a home theater, an extra bedroom, or a separate apartment. Potential buyers will appreciate that they will not have to put work into the house to finish the basement, and they can enjoy a move-in-ready space right away.
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An unfinished basement is at risk from radon gas leaking in through unfinished walls and flooring. It’s also more accessible to insects, rodents, mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors. Finishing a basement will reduce or eliminate the possibility of these issues, saving the homeowner from inconvenience and safety risks.
Zoning Restriction Work-Around
Based on the location of the house and the zoning restrictions for the property, it may not be that easy to add to the home. Finishing a basement adds valuable living space without affecting any zoning restrictions. While the homeowner may still need to acquire permits, there won’t be as many permits to obtain and inspections to go through as there would be when building an addition to the home.
Energy Cost Savings
Finishing a basement will help make the home more energy efficient. An unfinished basement typically allows air to escape and enter the house, and this will affect heating and cooling costs. Drywall, insulation, and new flooring will help keep the temperature regulated so the home’s HVAC system doesn’t have to work overtime to keep the space cool in the warmer months and warm in the wintertime.
Finishing a basement can provide potential additional income. By adding an apartment with a full bathroom and kitchen, the homeowner might be able to rent out the space to either long-term or short-term tenants. This extra income can help offset the cost of the refinishing project and provide additional income over time.
Finishing a Basement: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
There are many steps to finishing a basement, and they require experienced and licensed professionals to do the work. It’s recommended that this project be left to basement finishing contractors or finish carpenters. To take on this project, a DIYer would need to be skilled in a wide variety of tasks, such as hanging drywall, laying flooring, installing insulation, and more, not to mention having the proper tools for the job. It’s also impossible to know what unexpected issues could come up like a crack in the basement wall or a burst pipe. If these problems do arise, the homeowner might not have the skills or tools necessary for the job. Even if they take on some of the smaller projects that make up a basement finishing project, it will still be necessary for them to hire a plumber and electrician to install pipes, drains, outlets, and lighting fixtures to make sure everything is up to code and will pass an inspection.
Although the cost of hiring a contractor can seem exorbitant at first, there may be some unseen savings. For instance, professional contractors have the connections to acquire materials at a discounted rate. They also have experience calculating exactly how much of each material is needed, which helps them avoid going over budget. Homeowners will also want to keep in mind that having a licensed and insured contractor reduces their own responsibility in the event that something goes wrong with the basement finishing project.
Considering taking on any home project is a big decision, and it’s important for homeowners to have a thorough understanding of the task at hand. Unless a homeowner has extensive renovation experience, DIY basement finishing is likely to result in a longer timeline, a higher budget, and a less-than-satisfactory result. The homeowner is already footing the bill for this major project—why not search for “basement finishing near me” and let a professional handle the hard work?
How to Save Money on the Cost to Finish a Basement
Costs to finish a basement can be high, and the additional fees associated with the project can quickly add up. One way to save on basement finishing is to buy the cheapest materials for the project, but there are other ways to save without compromising quality.
- Select mid-grade materials. One way to save on basement finishing costs is to go for mid-grade materials. Occasionally, these materials can be bought as seconds or floor models. Consider less expensive options for lighting fixtures, switch plates, and more.
- DIY a few projects. To save on labor and material costs, consider painting the newly finished basement yourself or tackling tiling or flooring if you have the experience and the right tools for the job.
- Opt for an open floor plan. The more framing and drywall that are needed for the project, the more expensive it will be. You can cut costs on framing, drywall, insulation, wiring, and doors by eliminating extra walls.
- Get multiple estimates. By getting at least three estimates from reputable contractors, you can find a price that matches your budget.
- Use fewer studs. If any new walls are going up in the basement, there is no chance that they will be load-bearing. Fewer studs are required for non-load-bearing walls, which could result in some savings.
- Don’t splurge on flooring. While it may be tempting to opt for hardwoods or carpet, a laminate or vinyl tile is a wiser choice for a basement; it’s more affordable and also resistant to moisture.
- Forgo the ceiling. While some finished basements have drywall or drop ceilings, there is often wiring or ductwork that can be accessed only through the ceiling. Consider painting the ceiling instead, which is cheaper and has the added benefit of leaving these features easily accessible.
- Utilize existing plumbing. Rerouting plumbing is a huge expense. If there is any existing plumbing in the basement, consider placing a bathroom or kitchen equipment nearby.
- Save room for storage. If a small section of the basement will be used for storage, it won’t necessarily need to be finished to the same degree as the rest of the space. Buyers also tend to prefer a home that has ample storage, so leaving the space only partially finished or even unfinished won’t have a negative effect on the home’s value.
Questions to Ask About Finishing a Basement
Asking a professional the right questions about basement finishing costs can minimize miscommunication, save money, and get the results you desire. Here are some questions to ask a basement finishing professional.
- Do you have references?
- How long have you been in business?
- What are your formal certifications?
- Do you warranty your work?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Who will be finishing my basement?
- Will you obtain the permits for this project?
- What is the timeline for the project?
- How will you communicate with me during the project?
- Will I have a say in what materials are used?
- What will be done to keep moisture out of the basement?
- Will the current water supply lines and drainage be able to handle a new bathroom or kitchen?
- Will you make changes to the HVAC system?
- Will the current electrical system function properly with the additional load of the finished basement?
- What are the best ways to save money on this project?
Deciding to take on a basement finishing project while staying within a budget can be a daunting process. Here are some frequently asked questions about basement finishing costs to help guide homeowners in their decision-making.
Q. How much does it cost to finish a 1,000-square-foot basement?
It costs about $15,000 on average to finish a 1,000-square-foot basement, with the cost ranging between $7,000 and $23,000. If the homeowner is interested in hiring an interior designer, they can expect to add approximately $50 to $200 per hour.
Q. How much does it cost to remodel a basement?
A basement remodel ranges between $11,000 and $30,000 depending on the materials, size, layout, and purpose of the space. If the homeowner wants to change it into an apartment with a laundry room and kitchenette, the price can skyrocket to over $63,000.
Q. Do I need a permit for finishing my basement?
Yes, in most cases a permit is required to finish a basement. Any home improvement project that entails plumbing, doing electrical work, or turning a basement into a livable space requires a permit. A licensed contractor can advise the homeowner on whether their basement finishing project will require a permit and will be able to acquire the necessary paperwork on the homeowner’s behalf.
Q. How much does it cost to add a bathroom in a basement?
On average, the cost to finish a basement with a bathroom is around $15,000. For luxury or high-end fixtures, that cost could jump as high as $90,000.
Q. Does finishing a basement add home value?
Most homeowners see about a 70 percent return on investment for a basic basement finishing project. This number may vary based on geographic location.
Q. Do I have to have an egress window in a finished basement?
In most regions, basement egress windows are required for safety reasons. Homeowners can check local building codes for specific rules and regulations in their area to make sure the space is up to code.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, HomeGuide