How Much Does a Basement Remodel Cost?
The national average basement remodel cost is approximately $21,541, which translates into a typical range of $30 to $75 per square foot.
- Typical Range: $30 and $75 per square foot
- National Average: $21,541
With the high cost of new construction, some homeowners are looking to their basements for additional living space. While the average cost of basement remodeling is about $21,541 nationwide, that figure varies widely depending on the quality of the materials used and the type of remodeling.
Still, finishing a basement is often a much more affordable way of expanding a home’s living space than building a new addition to the house because the floors and walls are already in place. While some basement remodeling projects are in the DIY realm, many require the services of licensed contractors, and the final basement remodel cost will typically range from $30 to $75 per square foot.
Basement Remodel vs. Basement Renovation
Many use the words “remodel” and “renovate” interchangeably. Still, remodeling typically involves changing the space’s layout or adding or replacing finish materials (installing new tile flooring, painting the walls, or replacing the panels in a drop ceiling). Remodeling is often a part of a basement makeover. Remodeling can also mean changing the purpose of the space, such as installing a kitchen in the basement, which is among the more pricey projects and could run as much as $30,000.
Renovation involves making some type of repairs. The most common basement renovation projects are the restorations necessary after a house suffers flood or fire damage. Renovating to correct water damage can run $1,200 to $5,100, while basement renovation cost after a fire can run anywhere from $3,000 to $33,000 just to repair smoke damage. Renovating doesn’t change the space’s purpose; instead, it usually restores the area to like-new condition.
Factors in Calculating Basement Remodel Cost
The overall cost of a basement remodel averages $12,232 to $33,173, yet it can be as little as $4,000 on the low end and as much as $50,000 on the high end. Why so much price variation? The answer lies in the unique properties of basements, what condition they’re currently in, and the going rate of labor in the community.
Basement Condition and Size
Two of the main factors determining the cost to finish basement spaces are the basement’s size and current condition. A partial basement remodel of an area less than 700 square feet could run from $9,000 to $52,500, while the complete remodel of a basement with 4,000 square feet could top out around $300,000. A basement with leaks or moisture problems will cost more to remodel since waterproofing should be done first and could run as much as $7,000.
Subcontractors and Labor
No two houses are alike, so no two basements are alike. This means that different subcontractors are necessary for various remodels. Hiring a designer could add $2,000 to $13,000 to the basement remodel cost, while a licensed electrician will typically charge between $500 and $2,500 to wire the basement. A plumbing subcontractor will typically charge between $400 and $1,800 to install new bathroom fixtures.
If the remodeling project includes adding walls and installing plumbing or wiring, the local building authority may require a permit before starting the project. Permit and inspection fees vary from community to community and may be a percentage of the project’s estimated cost or a flat fee. Typical permit fees range from $100 to $2,000 or more, and the contractor will usually pull the permit and then include the cost in their charges.
Additional Costs and Considerations
The average cost to finish a basement depends on multiple factors. For example, when calculating an accurate estimate, a contractor must determine whether repairs should be done first and whether moisture issues are a concern.
Cleanup and Repair
If the basement has mold or water damage, cleanup could add anywhere from $1,200 to $5,100 to the overall cost of the basement remodel. If professional mold remediation is necessary and wallboard and flooring have to be replaced, the price could start around $10,000 and go up from there. On the flip side, a simple flooring replacement and a new coat of paint could cost less than $3,000.
The difference between above-grade walls and basement walls is that basement walls directly contact the soil. This makes basements prone to moisture problems and leaking. Before finishing a basement, any moisture problems should be addressed. Waterproofing a basement will add an estimated $2,000 to $7,000 to the bill.
When it comes to basements, “finishing” means to transform the basement (no matter what shape it’s currently in) into a living space that’s similar in quality to the above-ground living spaces. The cost to finish basement living spaces will vary based on all the factors covered, but a general estimate is between $30 and $75 per square foot.
Room Additions: Bedrooms, Bathrooms, and More
Incorporating new rooms into a basement is standard for many remodeling projects. The cost will vary by the type of room and the quality of the materials and fixtures. Adding a bathroom ranges from $6,600 to $16,500, while adding a master suite can run as much as $25,000, especially if egress (escape) windows have to be installed. Other popular basement remodel projects include:
- A home theater for approximately $300 per square foot
- A sauna for $3,000 to $6,000
- A wet bar for $6,000 to $22,500
- A home gym for $300 to $15,000
Benefits of Basement Remodeling
For many, the most significant benefit of finishing a basement is the increased family living space that can alleviate crowding on the main floors. A finished basement is also a selling point, and it makes a home more energy efficient as well.
Return on Investment
Most remodeling projects are expensive, and remodeling a basement is no exception. Remodeling Magazine estimates that a basement remodel’s return on investment (ROI) averages about 70 percent. So, remodel with the intent of enjoying the space, not just for resale purposes.
Additional Versatile Space
A basement remodeling project offers the homeowner a range of living solutions. A basement with a separate entrance can become a rental apartment or provide additional family space. The project can include adding new bedrooms, a playroom, a recreation area with a bathroom, or a craft room. The basement can be one of the most versatile spaces in the home.
Finishing a basement often improves a home’s energy efficiency. During remodeling, the basement is often insulated—a project that typically adds around $500 to $1,500, depending on the size of the basement and the type of insulation. This reduces heat transfer through the main floor and, as a bonus, also reduces drafts. The result is a more energy-efficient house.
Basement Remodeling: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Homeowners can save a substantial amount of money by tackling remodeling projects, but the key is in knowing when to attempt DIY basement finishing and when it’s better left to the pros. A general rule is to call licensed professionals for new wiring projects. Electricians charge between $50 to $100 per hour for their services, and, in some communities, homeowners are not permitted to do their own electrical wiring.
While plumbing is less dangerous than wiring, it requires working knowledge of making plumbing connections, and faulty plumbing can leak, leading to significant water damage down the road.
Some DIY tasks a homeowner can take on include clearing away trash, painting, and sometimes installing flooring.
How to Save Money on a Basement Remodel
When DIY-ing some or all of a basement remodeling project isn’t feasible, homeowners may still be able to save some money. Keep in mind that many costs are negotiable, and by compromising on materials, a basement remodel doesn’t have to break the bank. The following tips can save money without sacrificing overall quality or the ability to enjoy the basement.
- Do ample research before starting the project. Visit trade shows, go to open houses, and browse through home design magazines to see how other homeowners have finished their basements. The more ideas available to draw from, the easier it is to select budget-friendly designs and still get the desired look.
- Don’t make changes once the project starts. Contractors often charge extra for change orders because they have to alter their plans, which takes more time. Know what you want, and stick to it.
- Avoid using materials that exceed the quality of the materials used on the above-grade floors. For example, don’t choose quartz countertops for a wet bar in the basement if the upstairs kitchen has laminate countertops. Not only will this save money, but it will create a cohesive look through the home.
- Consider an open basement plan. Separating the basement living space into multiple rooms means building walls and running additional wiring, which adds substantially to the final tally.
Questions to Ask a Contractor About Basement Remodeling
The oft-recommended advice is to get bids from a minimum of three contractors before choosing one to do the remodeling. While that’s sage advice, ask the following questions to ensure the best contractor is selected for the job.
- Can I get a cost breakdown for a variety of materials? This is an essential question because it allows the homeowner to see how different materials can make a difference in the end cost of the project.
- When will payments be due? Some contractors require payment for materials up front, while others will cover material costs and then give the homeowner a bill for the entire cost at the end of the project. Be wary of contractors who want the whole project paid for in advance.
- May I have a firm bid—not just an estimate? Estimates are ballpark figures that can go up or down, depending on fluctuations in material costs and whether the contractor runs into unforeseen circumstances. On the other hand, a firm bid promises that the contractor will not exceed the specified amount.
Basement remodeling and renovating are expensive, but they’re investments in the home when done tastefully and with good workmanship. For those thinking about a basement remodeling project, some questions are likely.
Q. How much does it cost to renovate a 1,000-square-foot basement?
On average, basement remodeling costs $30 to $75 per square foot, so the cost to remodel a 1,000-square-foot basement would range from $30,000 to $75,000, depending on the material and fixture costs.
Q. How much does it cost to renovate a 1,200-square-foot basement?
At an average of $30 to $75 per square foot, remodeling a 1,200-square-foot basement would cost between $36,000 and $90,000.
Q. How do I budget for a basement remodel?
Do plenty of research before starting to ensure you’re getting what you want at a price you can afford. Because a basement remodel is an investment in the home, your lender may give you a home equity loan to pay for the project, and you can pay the loan back in installments.
Q. What is the resale value of a house with a finished basement?
The resale value of a house depends on many factors. In general, homeowners can recoup 70 percent of the cost of a basement remodel when they sell. For example, if the current house is valued at $250,000 and the homeowner spends $50,000 on the basement remodel, it would potentially increase the house’s value by 70 percent of $50,000, which is $35,000. That would boost the home’s value—when the project is complete—to $285,000.
Q. What is the most expensive part of finishing a basement?
Adding bathrooms, home theaters, and wet bars are among the most expensive basement remodeling projects. Bathrooms cost an average of $6,000 to $15,000, and wet bars range from about $6,000 to $22,500. Home theaters can run as much as $300 per square foot.