12:08PM | 10/25/99
Member Since: 10/24/99
1 lifetime posts
We have recently bought an older home (75+) with an "unfinished" basement. What exactly is involved in making it "finished" so it can be included in the square footage of the home? As it stands right now there are cement walls and floors, utility sink, washer and dryer hook up, no windows or outside access and the ceiling is quite high and open beamed. Basically what I'd like to know is if there are specifications as to ceiling height, room size, number of outlets, wiring, plumbing, etc., for an area to be concidered finished.


08:51PM | 10/25/99
Member Since: 10/10/98
34 lifetime posts
In order for any part of a home to be considered in the square footage calculations, i.e., part of the living space, it has to meet certain basic criteria.

First, it has to be heated, since in most parts of the country you cannot live in it all year round without heat.

Second, electrical, fire, and other safety codes must be met. You need so many outlets per foot of wall space, a smoke detector, and usually 2 emergency exits from the area, Usually this is accomplished with a door and window. Since you don’t have any windows…I’m not sure. I'm also not sure about ceiling height

Third, exposure to hazardous materials, such as insulation and such, cannot be. Essentially, you need to cover those problems with drywall or equivalent.

Last, it is your municipality that determines what is and is not living space. If you want to finish your basement and count it as living space, you will need to get approval from them. When you are done with the project, they will issue you an occupancy permit, officially designating it as living space. Of course, you run the risk of raising your taxes, but on the other hand, you cannot legally count the space as part of the house’s living space, for loans, resale, or whatever, unless it also appears on your assessment report. It’s one of those nasty ways people who finish their basement without a permit get burned when they go to sell.

I think those are the main points. Your municipality may have more detailed requirements you will need to follow.

[This message has been edited by TomR (edited October 26, 1999).]


05:40PM | 01/05/11
Member Since: 01/05/11
18 lifetime posts
Taxes in my area are figured by the livable square footage in a home. For that reason, at least around here, people prefer to list the square footage without the finished basement and it's understood that the finished basement adds on X amount to the total when you're selling a house.


02:55AM | 10/19/11
Member Since: 07/07/11
8 lifetime posts
After finishing the basement is usually a big advantage in some cases, when you should not expect that lead to increase in value.


03:52PM | 11/08/15
All this blah blah blah about municipal codes is fascinating but it doesn't answer the question, really, what is a "finished" basement? My basement has a concrete floor, dry wall interior walls and brick exterior walls but no heat. I would consider it to be finished when comparing it to a cellar with just earthen walls. Am I right? Or am I wrong?
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