Interior Basements

How Much Does It Cost to Frame a Basement?

Fully finishing a new basement is a big job, but the payoff is additional livable space and added home value. The cost to frame a basement is $500 to $1,600 or an average of about $1,200.
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How Much Does It Cost to Frame a Basement
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Highlights

  • The cost to frame a basement averages $1,200, but a common price range is $500 to $1,600.
  • The size and type of basement, obstructions, framing material, permits, additional finishing work, and labor rates will all factor into the final basement framing price.
  • Framing a basement is the first step for a homeowner to change a less-usable space into a fully livable area.
  • It’s not easy to make sure framing is installed securely and leveled properly to avoid gaps or misaligned walls. Hiring professional framers helps homeowners achieve the sturdy walls they need in the basement.


Basement remodeling or finishing is a common home renovation project since it extends the amount of comfortable living space, giving homeowners and their guests an additional floor for lounging and living. However, before a basement can be finished, the basement walls need to be framed. Basement framing involves cutting, measuring, and mounting a framework of beams that will support drywall, electrical outlets, wires, plumbing fixtures, and pipes.

According to Angi, the cost to frame a basement averages $1,200, though it can range from $500 to $1,600 depending on the size of the space, the type of basement and wood, local labor costs, and other factors. Before starting a basement remodeling or finishing project, homeowners will want to gather information about cost factors, types of materials, tips to save money, and questions to ask a pro about the project.

How Much Does It Cost to Frame a Basement
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Factors in Calculating the Cost to Frame a Basement

So, how much does it cost to frame a basement? Framing and drywall cost about $5 to $10 per linear foot on average. Homeowners are encouraged to understand the various factors that can impact basement framing costs. These factors primarily include the basement size and type, labor rates, type of wood, repairs, and the additional cost to frame around obstructions.

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Basement Size and Type

Before starting a framing project, contractors will take accurate measurements of the basement walls to determine the approximate cost of the job. Basement framing is typically just for interior walls, so measurements are taken from the perimeter of the entire space and calculated based on how many walls will be added. Generally, framing basement walls costs about $2 to $6 per linear foot for the framing alone. Homeowners can use a basement wall framing calculator to estimate the price for their project.

Another factor to consider is how the basement is made. There are several materials and methods used to build basements, including masonry walls, poured concrete walls, and precast panels. Precast panel basements are the most affordable to frame, ranging in cost from $8 to $12 per linear foot, while framing a masonry wall will cost about $10 to $12 per linear foot. Framing a poured concrete wall is the most expensive, at $12 to $16 per linear foot.

Basement SizeAverage Cost (Framing Only)Average Cost (Framing and Drywall)
500 linear feet$1,000 to $3,000$2,500 to $5,000
750 linear feet$1,500 to $4,500$3,750 to $7,500
1,000 linear feet$2,000 to $6,000$5,000 to $10,000
1,500 linear feet$3,000 to $9,000$7,500 to $15,000
2,000 linear feet$4,000 to $12,000$10,000 to $20,000

Obstructions

Square and rectangular spaces that are open and level are the easiest to frame since there are no obstructions to work around. Basements with limited obstructions take less time for framers to complete the job. However, in most cases, basements have a few additions that can obstruct the installation, such as windows, doors, stairs, laundry or mechanical rooms, or even the electrical panel.

Whether the floor, ceiling, and walls are even or whether there are irregularities in the floor-to-ceiling height will also affect the framing process. This factor is very important when homeowners are building basement walls because if the floor or ceiling is uneven, then the size and shape of the walls may need to be adjusted to get the proper fit. If the homeowner or contractor is worried about the floor settling or shifting after installation, then an option is to install basement framing with floating walls. Floating walls leave a gap between the bottom of the frame and the floor to allow for settling, expanding, or shifting.

Framing Material Type

Wood and metal framing are the most common options for basement walls, but there are cost differences between them. Homeowners and contractors will need to choose the material carefully, since this framework will form the basic structure for the new walls.

  • Wood is a strong, sturdy material that is typically available from about $1 to $5 per square foot. Naturally, the longer or wider the board, the higher the cost. Most homeowners use wood to quickly install basement framing.
  • Metal isn’t as common as wood for framing, but it may be a good choice for damp basements since it won’t rot or grow mildew. Metal costs around the same amount as untreated wood, ranging from about $2 to $4 per square foot.

Labor

The labor cost to frame a basement usually makes up to 50 percent of the overall price or an additional $1 to $5 per linear foot. Exact labor rates can vary among contractors and companies. The cost of labor can also fluctuate based on the population density, geographic location, and demand for this service. Typically, labor rates for basement framing will increase in large urban areas due to the increase in people and demand, while rates in small rural centers will generally be less for the same job.

How Much Does It Cost to Frame a Basement
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Additional Costs and Considerations

After homeowners factor in the primary elements of this project, there are a few additional considerations they may need to keep in mind, such as basement waterproofing costs and drywalling costs. There are also pros and cons to finishing a basement that homeowners can consider and discuss with a trusted contractor.

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Permits

In many cases, home renovation projects require a building permit from the local municipality. Homeowners who hire a contractor or contracting company are advised to ask who will be responsible for permit acquisition and what the expected cost will be.

Many contracting companies will take on the responsibility of getting the building permit, but the cost of the permit will be added to the total cost of the project. When reviewing the project estimate, homeowners are advised to check with the contractor to ensure that the permit cost is included. Generally, a building permit to finish the basement will cost about $1,350, depending on local permit rates.

Basement Waterproofing

Cracked foundation walls, loose basement windows, and poor drainage can lead to basement flooding and the need for costly repairs. To ensure that the new walls are protected against water damage, homeowners can hire one of the best basement waterproofing companies, such as Basement Systems or B-Dry. Basement waterproofing costs about $4,500 on average, though the cost can increase if the basement requires a sump pump or additional repairs.

Sump pump installation costs about $1,300 but may be worth the investment to prevent basement flooding and to ensure the protection of furniture, flooring, walls, framing, and wiring. Severe flooded basement cleanup can require the help of several professionals, but a sump pump can help homeowners prevent serious damage when light flooding happens. Homeowners can also ask a contractor if a vapor barrier is a good idea to install in their climate.

Drywall Installation

Most homeowners opt to have a contractor finish the basement walls to save on time and effort. In that case, once the framework is up, contractors will install plumbing or electrical wiring in the walls, then add insulation. At this point, the walls are ready for drywall installation, which costs about $3 to $4 per linear foot.

Typically, drywall panels will cost about $12 to $20 per panel and come in a few thicknesses and sizes. A drywaller can help homeowners decide which thickness is ideal for their space. They’ll also need to measure the area accurately to estimate the amount of drywall materials needed. Homeowners are advised to keep in mind that if the basement framing is made of metal, then the installer will need to use screws to fasten the drywall, which may increase the cost of the job. However, if the basement framing is made of wood, then drywall nails are suitable.

Basement Finishing

Generally, when a homeowner starts a basement framing project, the intent is to completely finish the basement. If the plan is to do so quickly, homeowners will want to gather information about how much it costs to finish a basement since there’s a wide range of costs involved. The budget will need to include additional funds for things like plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation, drywall, paint, furnishings, and more.

A full basement finishing project requires time and effort as homeowners consider basement flooring ideas, basement ceiling ideas, and other interior design decisions. Homeowners will usually spend $7 to $23 per square foot to finish a basement. This works out to a total of about $2,800 to $34,000, including labor, materials, and permits.

How Much Does It Cost to Frame a Basement
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Cost to Frame a Basement by Type of Basement

The cost to frame the basement isn’t influenced just by the size or type of materials used. The price is also affected by the type of basement: masonry wall, poured concrete wall, or precast panel. Knowing the type of basement will help the contractor better estimate the cost to frame it.

Basement TypeAverage Framing Cost (Materials and Labor)
Masonry wall$10 to $12 per linear foot
Poured concrete wall$12 to $16 per linear foot
Precast panel$8 to $12 per linear foot

Masonry Wall

A masonry wall basement is constructed using masonry blocks. This means that there are many seams between the various masonry block units that can deteriorate, crack, or eventually experience water damage. To avoid seepage, homeowners will need to make sure that the wall is properly reinforced and waterproofed. On average, homeowners can expect to pay about $10 to $12 per linear foot to frame a masonry wall basement.

Poured Concrete Wall

The most common type of basement is a poured concrete wall basement. It’s constructed when contractors pour the footing for the basement foundation, then use forms to hold the poured concrete walls in position while they dry. Due to this on-site installation, poured concrete walls are generally stronger than other types of basement walls.

Although concrete walls are typically the best option for strength and durability, contractors will still recommend that homeowners properly waterproof the walls before they start a basement framing job. Homeowners can plan to spend about $12 to $16 per linear foot when framing a poured concrete wall basement.

Precast Panel

Framing a precast panel basement is the least expensive option, ranging from just $8 to $12 per linear foot. Precast panel basement foundations and walls are made off-site, then transported to the property for installation. By making the precast panels in a controlled location, the manufacturers can ensure that the foundation and walls are waterproofed, well insulated, and made to size.

This type of basement is also much faster to install since the bulk of the job is completed off-site. However, all basement walls and foundations will age and degrade over time, so despite the basement waterproofing of poured and precast panel basements, it’s a good idea for homeowners to have the basement assessed prior to starting a framing job. This professional assessment can also help identify the type of basement if the homeowner isn’t able to differentiate among the three types.

Framing a Basement: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

There are many DIYers with the skills and knowledge to frame a poured concrete basement. The biggest advantage is saving on labor costs of about $1 to $3 per linear foot, but it will take time and effort away from the homeowner’s other needs and interests. Additionally, framing a basement can take much longer to complete than anticipated since it takes time to purchase, measure, cut, level, and install the framework for an entire basement. There are also tricks to framing corners in basements that DIYers may not know but that a pro will.

A crew of qualified professionals can cut and install the boards, adjust the placement of electrical or plumbing lines, add insulation, mount drywall, and finish the basement in less time and at a higher quality than most DIYers. The pros will also know how to accommodate obstructions, properly level the framing, and even install floating frames if needed. For these reasons, many homeowners prefer to hire a general contracting company to frame and finish the basement. New basement framing or basement remodeling costs can be worth the investment of hiring a pro to properly install the critical framework of basement walls.

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How to Save Money on the Cost to Frame a Basement

The average cost to frame a basement isn’t overly expensive, ranging from just $500 to $1,600 depending on the scope of the project. However, after framing a basement, most homeowners will want to complete the job by putting in insulation, mounting drywall, mudding, taping, and painting to finish the basement walls. All of these important tasks can add up to a pricey project, so homeowners are often keen to find ways to save money when possible.

  • Compare local rates. Homeowners are advised to find at least three reputable companies in the area that could complete the work, then compare quotes to get the best price and value for the project.
  • Complete minor DIY tasks. Experienced DIYers can reduce the amount of professional labor needed by finishing small DIY jobs, such as using concrete repair kits to patch small holes, putting in insulation after the frames are up, or simply preparing the area for easy access.
  • Consider leaving storage spaces unfinished. Some areas of the basement, such as a laundry room or storage room, may not need to be framed or finished, which can save on initial costs.
  • Shop around for low material prices. Homeowners can check online or visit a few local lumber suppliers to find the best price for framing materials.
  • Choose basic materials. Wood frames are common and less expensive than metal frames.
  • Simplify the layout. Framing will cost more if there are numerous rooms or complicated walls to build. Straight walls are easy, fast, and cheaper to install than walls that have angles or jut in or out in several areas.

Questions to Ask About Framing a Basement

To avoid a situation where the finished product may not be as expected, homeowners are encouraged to find out as much as possible about the contractor, company, and basement framing process before starting. There are many helpful questions homeowners can ask about framing a basement.

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Are you a member of any framing organizations?
  • Can you provide references?
  • What timeline do you foresee for the project?
  • Will you handle the project yourself or subcontract it?
  • Will I need floating walls?
  • What type of lumber does the estimate include?
  • Will you provide options for different materials?
  • What permits will be required, and who will obtain them?
  • Will you set the studs at 12 inches or 16 inches, and how will that affect the cost?
  • Does the estimate include drywall installation?
  • Does my basement require waterproofing before you frame the walls?
  • Do I need a vapor barrier installed while framing my basement walls?
  • Do you offer reduced pricing for bundled services?
  • What kind of warranty or guarantee do you offer for your work?
  • Do you offer financing?
  • What additional costs should I expect?

FAQs

Understanding the project process is important for homeowners to make informed decisions about the material, layout, waterproofing, and other cost factors when planning the budget for a basement framing job. The answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about framing a basement can help homeowners know what to expect.

Q. How long does it take to frame a basement?

The size and layout of the basement impact the time it will take to frame, but most jobs typically take about 3 to 5 days to complete. If the basement is very large or there are multiple rooms, it may take longer to finish the framing.

Q. Is it better to frame a basement with wood or metal?

Both wood and metal are good options for basement framing projects, though there are key differences between these materials. Wood is usually a bit less expensive than metal, and framing nails tend to cost less than the screws that are required for metal studs. However, metal studs are more water-resistant and typically last longer than wooden studs, making them a great choice for basements in humid areas.

Q. Will a renovated basement add value to my house?

Remodeling or renovating the basement is one of the most successful ways to increase the value of the home. On average, homeowners can expect a return on investment (ROI) of 70 percent of the cost of the renovation.