How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement?

Want to convert that unused area into a livable space, but how much does it cost to finish a basement? The cost ranges from $2,800 to $33,985 with the national average at $18,395.

How much does it cost to finish a basement

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  • Typical Range: $2,800 to $33,985
  • National Average: $18,395

Finishing a basement is an excellent way to create more living space in a home. A finished basement can provide up to a 70 percent return on investment and be an asset to potential homebuyers, but how much does it cost to finish a basement? According to HomeAdvisor, the typical cost to finish a basement ranges from $2,800 to $33,985, with the national average at $18,395. If you want to turn an unfinished space of concrete floors and exposed ductwork into a comfortable, livable space, expect to pay an average of $25 per square foot. Costs can range from $7 to $23 per square foot for basement finishing, and the total will depend on the type and quality of materials, how the space will be used, and the contractor’s labor rates. Labor averages between 10 and 25 percent of the overall project cost. Contractors will typically include labor in the total price instead of charging by the hour. Always double-check with your contractor to be sure of how they charge. It’s helpful to get multiple estimates from reputable contractors to compare costs. Before proceeding with your finished basement ideas, there are several factors to consider that will affect the overall cost.

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How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement? Finishing vs. Remodel vs. Renovation

Even though many people will use the words “finished,” ”remodel,” and “renovation” interchangeably, these words 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. Finished basements are defined as move-in ready, and they will look as complete as the other areas of your home. A remodel takes a finished basement and guts it for a total transformation. Usually, a remodel will alter the design and the structure of the space. A remodel will involve 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. A renovation doesn’t change the purpose of the space, but it will update the room’s look. A renovation commonly involves painting, installing new flooring, or changing out lighting fixtures.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement? Factors Affecting 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, your geographic location, the quality of materials, and compliance.

How much does it cost to finish a basement

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Labor 

Contractors can charge up to $34,000 to finish a basement with the average labor cost being 10 to 25 percent of the overall project cost. Keep in mind that the price of labor varies due to geographic location. Labor prices are higher in densely populated urban areas where living costs are much higher than in more rural areas.

Permits 

A building permit can cost about $1,350 on average. The price depends on your geographic location, basement size, and the scope of the project. The price of a permit usually includes any required inspection fees. If your basement project involves plumbing or electrical work, or it entails making the space livable, you’ll 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. Beginning a basement remodel without a permit risks being issued a stop-work order from the city and paying fines and additional fees. You may even have to remove the unpermitted work before you can resume the work. If you ever need 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. It’s always better to acquire the necessary permits when beginning a basement remodel.

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Basement Size 

The larger the area to finish, the more expensive it will be. The average cost of finishing a basement can range from $7 to $23 per square foot, with the average at $25 per square foot. The total price depends on the quality of the materials you choose, the contractor’s labor fees, and the 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.

Project Scope

The scope of the overall project includes all the renovations that will be included. Will there need to be concrete work to reroute pipes? Are you adding a bathroom, kitchen, or wet bar to the basement and need 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.

Geographic Location 

The national average to finish a basement is $18,395, but your geographic location will affect how much it costs to finish a basement in your area. The cost of living in your city or town will affect labor prices for your basement remodel or renovation. Your location will also affect the quality and type of materials and how accessible the materials are.

Material Quality 

Using lower-quality materials is one way to save on the cost of finishing a basement, but you risk compromising the integrity and longevity of the work. Communicating with your contractor is the best way to know in which areas you can cut costs. Since contractors know how to finish a basement, they will be able to give you sound advice. In the long run, it usually pays to use higher-quality materials so your remodel or renovation will last longer.

Compliance

When finishing a basement, one big concern is compliance with local building codes. The electrical system in your home must be able to handle the increased demand from the finished basement. Your contractor should know if the current amperage, or strength of the electrical current, is strong enough. If it’s not, you’ll have to upgrade the amperage or install a subpanel. If you’re turning the basement into a bedroom, you’ll need 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 and safe.

How much does it cost to finish a basement

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Additional Costs and Considerations

When budgeting for the cost to finish a basement, there are usually additional costs and considerations. These can include electrical, plumbing, and flooring; cosmetic upgrades like painting; or protective concerns like sump pumps and waterproofing.

Electrical

Electrical work for a finished basement averages around $1,325. Many cities 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. Expect to pay $75 to $500 to install electrical outlets. On average, the more outlets and switches installed, the cheaper the cost per item. Don’t forget the cost of a permit and inspections to make sure the electrical work is up to code.

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Plumbing

All household plumbing passes through the basement. When you renovate or remodel, you need to design 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 you’re interested in remodeling the basement to 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 could range from $3,000 to $15,000 or go up as high as $30,000.

Flooring

The average price of flooring for a finished basement averages between $1,500 and $4,500. The cost of 500 square feet of flooring typically runs $3,000. For hardwood, expect to pay up to $22 per square foot and between $3 and $11 per square foot for laminate and carpeting. It’s crucial to install moisture barriers for basement flooring to protect it from damage. Painting or staining the existing concrete floor is a possible budget-friendly option.

Drywall and Painting

Installing drywall can cost about $2 per square foot or $1,850 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. Expect to pay $12 to $20 each for drywall panels. Adding drywall to basement walls will help reduce energy costs and improve your carbon footprint when heating or cooling your home.

Painting costs $1,800 on average. Renting a paint sprayer usually costs around $100 per day, or it’ll cost between $300 and $500 if you hire a professional. Many homeowners design and decorate around plumbing pipes and ductwork by painting them the same color as the walls and ceiling.

Egress Windows

If you convert the basement into an apartment or a bedroom, you’ll need a suitable exit in the form of a door or egress window. An egress window provides an alternate escape route from the area in case of a fire or other emergency. An egress window costs $3,900 on average, and the egress window must be up to code. A professional may have to excavate land and reframe an exterior wall to meet building codes. This will result in additional costs to your basement finishing project. For a window to be considered an egress window, a uniformed firefighter must be able to fit through it.

Sump Pump

One part of the basement finishing process is to install 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. If you live in an area prone to flooding, a sump pump might be necessary as well. The average price for a sump pump installation is $575.

Waterproofing 

Waterproofing is the first step a homeowner should take when finishing a basement. Waterproofing a basement costs approximately $4,500. If there is existing water damage, add $2,850 for basement drainage repair. Water leakage in the basement can cause severe damage, and this damage can lead to mold and mildew growth, which can pose significant health threats. Certain types of bugs are attracted to standing water and damp areas within the home. When a foundation leaks and lets in water, it will develop cracks, which is just the beginning of an even bigger problem. Prevention, repair, and waterproofing are vital to avoiding a multitude of issues.

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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 3.5-inch batt and roll barriers. Insulation assists the HVAC system so it doesn’t have to work as hard to heat and cool your home.

Ceiling

It costs about $1,700 to build and drywall a basement ceiling. 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 you don’t meet the height requirement, you may have to move ductwork and pipes to raise the ceiling.

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 address any repairs before starting on upgrades. These repairs will cost extra, but confronting potential issues of water damage, structural concerns, or termite infestation will save you 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 your home was built, you may need an inspector 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 to remove or remediate them safely. It’s not recommended that homeowners tackle these situations independently because of the potential hazards associated with their removal or remediation.

Luxury Additions and Enhancements

A high-end basement will cost more than a basement that’s been finished with contractor-grade materials, fixtures, and flooring. Your choice of fixtures will ultimately depend on how customized you want the space to be. The way you intend to use the space also affects the overall cost. Will you use the space as a wet bar for entertaining friends and family? You’ll need water lines and drains for sinks. If you’ll be using it as a home theater, you’ll need a Wi-Fi router, plenty of outlets, and recessed lighting.

How much does it cost to finish a basement

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How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement? Types of Basement Finishing

There are three types of basements that you can have in your home: unfinished, partially finished, and finished. Each has its advantages as long as there are no issues with moisture or water damage.

Unfinished Basement 

While unfinished basements are common, they are not livable spaces. Unfinished basements are often spaces for the furnace, water heater, washer, dryer, exposed pipes and ductwork, and maybe an extra freezer. It’s also common to use this space as additional storage. Some homeowners will set up a workbench and use it as a space for DIY projects. An unfinished basement rarely has insulation, drywall, or finished flooring, but it may sometimes have plumbing.

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Partially Finished Basement

A partially finished basement is sometimes called a half-finished basement. It could contain bathrooms, showers, a laundry room, exercise equipment, or furniture. It may have some drywall installed, rough-in plumbing, insulation, and heating and cooling. This area could be used as a hangout space for teenagers or a work space for the family. A partially finished basement is not a completely finished living space like the rest of the house.

Finished Basement

A finished basement looks as complete as the rest of your 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. Finished basements are more appealing to potential buyers than unfinished or partially finished basements.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement? Benefits of Finishing a Basement

Finishing a basement can add value and usable livable space to your home. You can transform an unused space into a beautiful area where you can entertain 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 

If you have a home with an unfinished basement, you’re letting all that extra square footage go to waste. Transform that unused area into a livable space that you can enjoy for years to come. There are many ways to use the extra space after finishing the basement. Some practical ideas include using the space 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.

Added Value and Return on Investment

The average basement finishing project can add up to 70 percent return on investment. Many home buyers are interested in buying a home with a finished basement, and some may even raise their offer when purchasing a home with a finished basement. Adding this improvement to your home creates value by generating more livable space for your home. When you’re ready to sell your home, you can make it stand out by having a game room, home theater, extra bedroom, or 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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Safety 

An unfinished basement is at risk from radon gas leaking in through unfinished walls and flooring. An unfinished basement is also more accessible to insects, rodents, mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors. Finishing a basement will reduce or eliminate the possibility of these issues, saving you from inconvenience, health hazards, and safety risks.

Zoning Restriction Work-Around

Based on where your house is and the zoning restrictions for your property, it may not be that easy to add to your home. Finishing a basement adds valuable living space without affecting any zoning restrictions. While you 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 adding an addition.

Energy Cost Savings

Finishing a basement will help you and your home become 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 your HVAC system doesn’t have to work overtime to keep the space cool in the warmer months and warm in the wintertime.

Rental Income

Finishing a basement can provide potential additional income. By adding an apartment with a full bathroom and kitchen, you can rent out the space to either long-term or short-term tenants. This extra income can help you pay off bills, save up for a vacation, or begin a new home improvement project.

How much does it cost to finish a basement

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How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement? DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

A basement finishing project involves many steps and requires experienced and licensed professionals to do the work. It’s recommended that this project be left to general contractors or finish carpenters. Suppose you decide to take on some of the smaller projects that make up a basement finishing project. In that case, you’ll still need 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.

How to Save Money Basement Finishing Costs 

Costs to finish a basement can be high, and the additional costs 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.
  • Stick to your budget. By researching and keeping track of expenses, you can stick to your budget.
  • Get multiple estimates. By getting at least three estimates from reputable contractors, you can find a price that matches your budget.

Questions to Ask About How Much It Costs to Finish a Basement

Asking a professional the right questions about basement finishing costs can minimize miscommunication, save money, and get you the desired results. Here are some questions to ask a basement finishing professional.

  • Do you have references?
  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • Who will be doing the work of finishing my basement?
  • Will you obtain the permits for this project?
  • 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 be OK with the additional load of the finished basement?
  • What are the best ways to save money on this project?

FAQs

Deciding to take on a basement finishing project while staying within your budget can be a daunting process. Here are some frequently asked questions about basement finishing costs to help guide you in your decisions.

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. The costs can range between $7,000 and $23,000. If you’re interested in hiring an interior decorator, add approximately $6,500.

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 you want 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. Any home improvement project that entails plumbing, electrical work, or turning a basement into a livable space requires a permit.

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