Finishing a basement is a great way to maximize the space in your home. Rather than using your basement as a storage space – or having it be totally unused – you can convert it into another room, finished to the same standard as the rest of your home. There are two main benefits to finishing a basement:
- Increasing the amount of usable space in your home, potentially for activities not possible in other areas.
- Increasing the overall value of your house
On the second point, the cost of finishing your basement can be viewed as an investment.
On average, 70-75% of the cost of finishing a basement is recouped when it comes time to sell the house.
That is to say, that if you spend $20,000 on finishing your basement, your home’s value will increase by $14,000 to $15,000; you will have effectively spent between $5,000 and $6,000 to enjoy a space worth three or four times that.
If the financial arguments have persuaded you, or if you’d always wanted additional space in your house but were unsure of costs, this guide will give you all the information you need.
It’ll discuss the overall average cost of finishing a basement, then break down the price so you can see what you need and what you don’t. Finally, it will discuss some optional extras, so you can decide where you want to save and where you want to splurge.
THE OVERALL COST
Overall, the cost of finishing a basement is between $10,000 and $35,000. This usually equates to somewhere between $25 and $90 per square foot (depending on the level of material quality you’re expecting).
This includes both materials and labor. If you complete the work yourself, you will be able to reduce the final costs. The cost of labor is usually between 30% and 40% of the final costs. Some of this labor is specialist, such as plumbing and electrical wiring, although some of the labor you can do yourself without specialist knowledge.
Breaking down the costs is useful in helping you see where you can potentially save money. The basic cost of finishing a basement will involve the following:
- Hanging drywall
Completing this alone will cost $7,500 to $20,000. The breakdown of the average material costs for framing, drywall, ceiling, flooring as well as labor and material costs for electrical work is as follows:
|$1 (per square foot)|
|$1.50 (per square foot)|
|$3.50 (per square foot)|
$3.50 (per square foot)
(labor and materials)
|$750 – $1,600 (total)|
|TOTAL||$10,250 – $11,100
(for a 1,000-square foot basement)
Add in labor costs and this raises the price even higher for the basics of finishing a basement.
FRAMING AND DRYWALL
If you want to section off your space, or generally finish the walls, you will need to do some framing and add drywall. For framing, you can expect to pay roughly $1 per square foot for all the wood and hardware you will need. For drywall, you’ll pay around $1.50 per square foot for materials.
Our page on Average Cost of Drywall Installation has additional cost information and considerations.
Flooring is naturally one of the most important parts of finishing a basement. The cost of basement flooring is usually between $500 and $5,000, depending on the square footage of your space and the quality level of the material you choose. If you choose wood flooring, prices can get even higher.
There are a variety of options you can use to cover the floor. These include the following:
|MATERIAL||COST PER SQ. FT.||COST FOR 500 SQ. FT. BASEMENT|
|Vinyl flooring||$1 – $8||$500 – $4,000|
|Carpeting||$2 – $10||$1,000 – $5,000|
|Tile||$3 – $10||$1,500 – $5,000|
|Laminate flooring||$5 – $10||$2,500 – $5,000|
|Wood flooring||$8 – $14||$4,000 – $7,000|
Although your basement will already have a ceiling, you may need to make some improvements before your living space is truly ‘finished.’ Generally, you can expect to pay between $1 and $6 per square foot for ceiling improvements.
Your ceiling material options include the following:
The electrical work for finishing a basement may involve wiring areas for new lighting, wall outlets, cable, speakers, etc. Electrical work for a 1,000 square foot basement will cost between $750 and $1,600 depending on the complexity of the work being done. If you are in need of an electric panel upgrade or a new panel completely, this will cost extra.
COMPLETING THE WORK YOURSELF
A temptation if you are on a budget is to complete the work yourself. This will certainly save money, although if you don’t have the expertise, it can be an extremely difficult process. The table below shows the price difference between doing the work yourself and hiring a professional.
|SIZE OF BASEMENT||DIY COST||PROFESSIONAL COST|
(< 700 square feet)
(700-1,000 square feet)
(1,000+ square feet)
The above costs all represent the basic and necessary costs of finishing a basement. However, there are some additional costs outlined below that may be necessary or of interest to you for your basement remodeling project.
The first thing to mention is that, in some cases, if you are undertaking major remodel to finish a basement, that your local jurisdiction may require you to get a permit for the work. These permits usually cost around $50. If you are working with a contractor, they will usually be able to take care of this process for you.
One of the biggest expenses you can have when it comes to finishing a basement is repairs to the foundation. The levels of foundation repairs can range from very minor to significant reconstructive work, so you can pay as little as $1,000 and as much as $15,000, but the average cost for typical foundation repairs is around $4,500. For a more detailed look at these costs, go to our page on the Average Cost of Foundation Repair.
One additional (and expensive) option for a finished basement is to extend the foundation to create more space. This is obviously a major piece of restructuring work and will cost $10,000 to $24,000 (that is on top of any other work in finishing a basement). For more information on home foundations, see our pages on Types of Home Foundation and Average Cost of Home Foundation.
If you intend on making your basement a livable space, then you need to make sure it is free from basement flooding issues. Most basements struggle with water seepage owing to their position below ground level. To fully waterproof a basement, you can spend around $4,000 on average. Minor waterproofing, however, can cost between $250 and $500.
For more pricing information and basement waterproofing methods, go to our page on the Average Cost to Waterproof a Basement.
Adding a bathroom in your basement is often a really nice addition. Not only does it give you an extra bathroom, but it can also really make your home feel bigger – particularly if you add a shower or bathtub. The cost of adding a bathroom will come in between $3,000 and $25,000.
You may also need to install a sewage ejector pump, which will cost from $800 to $1,450 for parts and installation. For more information on installing a bathroom in your basement, see our guide on the cost to add a bathroom in the basement.
Your basement may already have a staircase, although if you are refinishing your basement to a livable standard, you may wish to also improve the condition of the stairs. A standard set of basement stairs descends one story, has 13 treads, and is made of pine.
To replace your basement stairs, it will cost between $850 to $3,000. There are also pre-made staircases available to purchase for around $1,000-$2,000. Our basement stairs guide has detailed information on all of the basement stair options and costs.
One way to save money is to take on any finishing touches like painting or installing molding yourself, but if you’d prefer to pay others for this work here is some pricing information.
Interior painting typically costs between $2 and $6 per square foot. Trim and molding installation costs around $4 to $12 per linear foot on average, which includes labor and materials. So, to paint and add trim to a 500 square foot basement will cost between $3,000 and $9,000.
A finished basement is one of the rare investments that gives you pleasure before you recoup your capital.
While your home’s value may increase, the real short- and medium-term benefit comes from the additional livable space you get to enjoy.
Finishing a basement is also relatively unobtrusive – by definition, most of the work happens in the basement, so you can still enjoy your home. When it comes to how to finish your basement, your budget will be a large dictator of your plans.
An important point to remember in the process of finishing a basement is that not all of the work has to take place at once. You can start with some of the basics, and add to it over the course of years as capital is freed up.
Either way, finishing your basement will add more opportunities for activities and variety inside of your home and increase your house’s overall value.