undecorated basement

What’s The Average Cost To Finish A Basement?

5-Minute Read

Let’s be honest: We all have that one incomplete room or area of our house that we pass by every day and think, “Eventually, I’ll finish it.” It can be anything from a disorganized hall closet to a scattered work-from-home space, but, for many homeowners, the unfinished space that looms large is the basement.

A finished basement provides tons of benefits to homeowners, such as an expanded living space and a boost to the home’s overall value. However, like all good things, finishing your basement comes at a price. Let’s take a look at how you can estimate the cost of this home improvement project and create the best basement for your budget.

How Much Does It Cost To Finish A Basement?

Unlike some other home improvement projects, the average cost of finishing your basement varies widely. The total cost of your basement project depends on the extent of the renovation, as well as the types of materials used and local contractor rates. For example, some homeowners may choose to only waterproof and drywall their basement, which would cost significantly less than a project that requires adding windows, a bathroom and other features.

With that in mind, HomeAdvisor reports that the average price of finishing a basement ranges from about $7 to $23 per square foot. The bigger the basement, the higher the price tag. This explains why some homeowners with large basements opt to finish only part of it and leave the rest for storage purposes.

What Factors Affect The Cost To Finish A Basement?

As mentioned above, there are several factors that determine the final price tag of your basement improvement project. Let’s take a look at how these elements will affect your bottom line.

Structural And Electrical Installation

No matter what your design plans are for your new basement, the first step is always to add walls and electricity to make the space habitable. In order to create a basement that’s safe for people to spend time in, you’ll have to allot a chunk of your budget for finishing tasks like adding drywall, insulation and other necessary items.

Check out the estimated cost to purchase and install these structural and electrical tasks, according to HomeAdvisor.

Flooring Installation

Most basements have a concrete floor, and unless you’d like to keep it that way, you’ll have to pick a new type of flooring to cover it up. Luckily, there are a wide variety of flooring choices perfect for your future entertainment space or workout room. Some of the most popular options include hardwood floor, laminate, vinyl tiling and carpet.

If you’re looking to save money on this part of the basement remodel, carpet or laminate might be your best option. The average cost per square foot is between $3 and $11 for carpet and laminate, compared to up to $22 per square foot for hardwood floor. Don’t forget to consult a home inspector about the condition of the foundation before installing new flooring.

Building Permits

This step is easy to overlook when creating your basement improvement budget, but it’s important to keep in mind. In order to flip your basement into usable space, you must obtain the proper permits before starting electrical, structural or plumbing work.

The price of the building permit varies based on your home’s location, but the average cost is about $1,350, including the inspection fees. While the price may seem steep, the building permit allows you to make your desired changes to your basement. If you start the remodel without the proper permits, the city can issue heavy fines and a stop work order.

Extra Features

If your dream finished basement includes all of the bells and whistles – windows, an extra bedroom, a wet bar – prepare to stretch your budget. When planning out the design for your basement project, it’s important to choose which extra features you’d like to add, and then calculate the additional cost. For example, if you’d like to add another bathroom, you’ll need to account for the cost of installing plumbing and bathroom accessories in the basement.

Don’t forget to include the cost of furnishing the basement to your budget. Essential items such as a couch and entertainment center can be ordered and delivered once the essential pieces of your newly finished basement are in place.

Contractor Rates

The final factor that influences the cost of this type of project is your contractor’s fee. While there are some aspects of a basement remodel that might be perfect DIY home projects for beginners, such as painting or trim work, most of the heavy-lifting in this project should be left to professionals.

If you’re in a well-populated and high-income area, expect to pay a higher hourly fee for a general or finishing contractor. Depending on the features of your basement project, you may also need to hire an electrician or plumber. Call around to get work and labor estimates for your project to ensure that you’re hiring the right team for the job. Pro tip: ask neighbors or friends to recommend remodel professionals in your area.

How Can I Lower The Cost To Finish A Basement?

Now that you understand the various expenses required to finish your basement, let’s review a few ways to make the project more affordable.

Keep The Design Simple

With so many design and furnishing options, it can be tempting to order custom finishes to make your basement feel unique. However, if you’re trying to conserve costs, it makes more fiscal sense to stick with standard hardware and finishes.

The same goes for flooring, window and decor choices. You should prioritize the areas of the basement that you’re willing to splurge on, and then compromise on other aspects that are less important to the function of the space. For example, if you’re set on having a home theater, consider choosing a less expensive flooring style to reserve funds for the cost of installing the entertainment system.

Leave Some Unfinished Space For Storage

We know by now that the amount of square footage directly indicates the price range of a project. If you’re looking to trim your budget, consider only finishing part of the basement, and then leaving the unfinished space to be used for storage. This way, instead of remodeling your whole basement, you’ll only have to pay to revamp a certain percentage of its square footage. Plus, that leaves you with plenty of room to store seasonal items and furniture.

DIY When Possible

The do-it-yourself method is great when you’re tie-dying T-shirts or creating home decor, but it gets tricky when you apply this concept to hanging drywall or installing plumbing. While the major remodel tasks should be left to the professionals, there are certain aspects of the basement overhaul that you can tackle on your own.

Some examples include installing light fixtures, painting the walls and ceiling, putting in insulation and more. Be sure to research the task beforehand to ensure it’s done safely and correctly.

Is Finishing The Basement Worth The Investment?

After reading through the various costs and expenses associated with finishing your basement, you may be wondering, “Is it even worth it?” The answer is a resounding “yes."

According to HomeAdvisor, transforming your basement from a concrete storage space to additional living space has a 75% return-on-investment rate. Not only will a finished basement provide additional space for your family to use, but it will also boost the home’s marketability to future buyers. So while your basement improvement project may require months of planning and construction, it will be worth it to reclaim some of that investment when you sell the home.

Since basement remodels can come with a hefty price tag, it’s important to find a payment option that fits into your budget. Depending on your financial situation and the final estimate, you may want to consider a personal loan for this home improvement project.

Final Thoughts: Budget For The Cost To Finish The Basement

If you’re considering finishing the basement of your home, take the first step and start making a wishlist of features, as well as a budget and design plan. Then, start calling around to local contractors and professionals to help you fast-track the finished basement of your family’s dreams.

To help finance the installation of your new basement, check out the personal and home improvement loan options available with Rocket Loans®.

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