Updated February 12, 2024
Finishing a basement can be a significant investment, but with careful planning and budgeting, it can also be incredibly rewarding.
By understanding the factors that influence the cost to finish a basement, setting realistic priorities, and working with reputable contractors, you can transform your basement into a functional and aesthetically pleasing space that adds value to your home.
This guide will go over all the various potential cost factors, including permits, materials, and labor, to help ensure a smooth and successful project.
Table of Contents:
Average Cost to Finish Basement
On average, a basic finished basement would cost $20-$30 per square foot. This average cost includes basic drywall, flooring, and lighting and does not include high-end finishes or extensive customization.
A mid-range finished basement costs $30-$60 per square foot on average. This average cost includes higher-quality flooring, better lighting fixtures, and some custom fixtures.
For a more high-end finished basement with premium materials, custom cabinetry, and higher-end fixtures, the average cost is $60-$80 per square foot.
The average size of a basement in the U.S. is 500-1,500 square feet, meaning...
The average cost of a basic finished basement is $10,000-$45,000
The average cost of a mid-range finished basement is $15,000-$90,000
The average cost of a high-end finished basement is $30,000-$120,000
Basement Remodel Cost Breakdown
Finishing a basement involves multiple steps, including permitting, demolition, electrical, plumbing, drywall, flooring, and fixtures/finishes. However, each basement remodel is unique, so your specific project may require more or less steps than this.
Here's a breakdown of the average cost to finish a basement...
Average Cost: $170-$1,350
A basement remodel typically requires permits for any demolition, electrical, or plumbing work that is taking place. Each permit is priced differently and will vary in price from city to city. On average, a demolition permit costs $100-$500, an electrical permit costs $40-$350, and a plumbing permit costs $30-$500. Your specific basement remodel may not require any of these permits, especially if you are only drywalling, flooring, and finishing the space. If you are not making changes to any interior walls, electrical, or plumbing, then a permit is likely not required, but it's always best practice to double check with your local building department.
Average Cost: $1,200-$5,000
Finishing a basement often doesn't require any demolition, but it isn't uncommon. If your basement has pre-existing interior walls that don't fit your vision, a residential interior demolition contractor can easily take them down. Similarly, many people opt to relocate stairs to create a more suitable space for finishing their basement. If your basement finishing project requires demolition, be sure to hire someone qualified, licensed, and insured to perform the work.
Average Cost: $800-$1,500
If you need to run electricity to the basement or you'd like changes made to the electrical work, like adding light switches, lighting, or fans, then you'll want to hire a qualified electrician to handle it. In many cases, electrical work isn't necessary when finishing a basement, and instead updating finishes and fixtures is all it takes to transform what's already there.
Average Cost: $1,000-$10,000
If you're interested in adding a bathroom to your basement, whether it be a half bath or full bath, you'll have to add plumbing to the basement. Plumbing is one of the more expensive aspects of a basement finishing project and it should be handled by a qualified professional. The same goes for if you'd like to add a wet bar to the basement. If you don't plan on adding or relocating any plumbing work in your basement, your project price will be much lower than if you did.
Average Cost: $1,400-$6,300
Insulating a basement has multiple benefits, like keeping your home warmer in winter months and your basement cooler in summer months, regulating the temperature in your home, reducing energy bills, preventing moisture from entering your home through your basement, and reducing noise levels. This is especially handy for basements that serve as a playroom, recreation room, bedroom, or home theater.
Average Cost: $800-$3,000
Drywalling your basement is key when finishing a basement, and it makes a huge impact without breaking the bank. If all you do when finishing your basement is add drywall, flooring, and finishes, you'd be left with a beautiful space that adds value to your home for as little as $7,800. You can often get away with paying much less if you opt to handle any of the drywalling, flooring, or finishes yourself. However, keep in mind that doing any of these yourself is only beneficial when done properly, so if you are unable to install drywall, flooring, or finishing touches yourself in a way that looks professionally done, it's likely worth paying someone to do it for you. After all, a finished basement is less enjoyable and less valuable when done improperly.
Average Cost: $3,000-$9,000
Adding flooring to your basement is another major upgrade that doesn't have to be wildly expensive. Naturally, the higher quality materials you choose, the more expensive this part of the project will be. Many flooring options available today are relatively easy to install with a little experience and elbow grease, which could save you quite a bit of money on labor.
Average Cost: $4,000-$40,000
As "finished basement" implies, adding all the finishes to the basement is an important step and arguably the most expensive. Finishes include all the finishing touches that make a space look complete, like trim work, doors, windows, hardware, cabinetry, lighting fixtures, etc. It's important to note that many states require an egress window if there is a bedroom in the basement, so if you need to add egress windows to your basement, you can expect it to cost $2,500-$5,500 per window.
Average Cost: $250-$550
An often overlooked aspect of a basement remodel is managing the debris. Typically, this is best done with a temporary dumpster rental. A 10 yard dumpster or 20 yard dumpster is typically all it will take unless your basement contains a lot of unwanted junk, in which case, a 30 yard dumpster may be the better option. If you need to clean out your basement before beginning your remodel, a dumpster rental is a great DIY approach. If you're looking for more comprehensive services in which a team of pros comes in and clears out the space for you, junk removal services are a great option, but you can expect to pay roughly double what you would for a dumpster.
- Small but Mighty Home Remodels That Are Cheap to Do
- The Most Expensive Part of Remodeling a Basement and What Adds the Most Value
- The Best Times of Year to Start a Home Remodel Project
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Basement Cleanouts
Factors Influencing the Cost of Finishing a Basement
The cost to remodel a basement varies quite a bit depending on a number of factors. The specific aspects of and goals for your finished basement will impact costs, so let's take a closer look at what comes into play when pricing out a basement remodel.
Size of the Basement
How big or small your basement is will have a significant impact on cost. Naturally, the larger your basement, the more materials, labor, and time it will require to finish it, and the more you can expect to pay for the work.
For example, a 500 square foot basement costs $10,000-$40,000 to finish, while a 1,500 square foot basement costs $30,000-$120,000.
Your intended use of your newly finished basement will have a major impact on the overall cost as well. For example, if you want to have a wet bar and home theater system in your basement, or a bathroom and kitchenette, your project costs will be quite a bit higher than the cost to finish a simple playroom or recreation room.
First and foremost, if structural modifications are needed, like adding or removing walls, reinforcing foundations, or installing support beams, the cost to finish your basement can increase substantially. It may be a good idea to consult with a structural engineer about your intended remodel project.
If your basement has any sewage, mold, or flooding issues, you can expect costs to increase as well. Likewise, if your basement finishing project requires adding or modifying HVAC systems or plumbing, this can significantly contribute to the overall cost. Proper ventilation and insulation are crucial for comfort and code compliance.
- What Is Involved in the Demolition Phase of a Remodel?
- How to Manage Remodel Debris and Dust
- 3 Remodeling Projects That Improve Your Home’s Accessibility and Boost Its Value
Materials and Finishes
The materials, fixtures, and finishes you choose can significantly affect the overall cost. High-end finishes, like hardwood flooring and custom cabinetry, will obviously lead to higher project costs than more budget-friendly finishes.
Return on Investment for a Finished Basement
The average return on investment (ROI) for finishing a basement can vary depending on several factors, like location, quality of the renovation, and current real estate market conditions. However, on average, homeowners can expect to recoup around 70-75% of the cost of finishing a basement when they sell their home.
It's important to note that while finishing a basement can increase the overall value of a home and make it more appealing to potential buyers, the exact ROI can vary widely based on individual circumstances. Factors such as the quality of the renovation, the materials used, and the overall design can all impact the return on investment. Additionally, market conditions and the desirability of finished basements in a particular area can also influence the ROI.
Ultimately, while finishing a basement can be a good investment in terms of increasing the value of a home and improving its livability, it's important for homeowners to carefully consider their budget and goals before undertaking this project, just like with any major renovation project.
Tips for Budgeting Your Basement Remodel
Prioritize Your Needs
Our first tip for budgeting your basement remodel is to determine the primary purpose of finishing your basement and prioritizing those needs accordingly. Allocate your budget to the aspects of the remodel that matter most to you and your family and avoid overspending on aspects that are not necessary.
Get Multiple Quotes
Easily our most recommended tip is getting multiple quotes for your basement remodel. As with any renovation project, you should consult with several contractors to get a range of quotes so you can truly compare each contractor's services, pricing, availability, and more. This will also help you understand the market rates and help you find a contractor who fits your budget and provides great customer service.
You should always include a contingency fund in your budget to account for any unexpected expenses or changes in the project scope.
Unforeseen Structural Issues: In a basement, there can be structural problems that your contractor discovers, like water damage, mold, a compromised foundation, etc. These issues will require additional repairs before moving forward and will increase the overall cost of your project.
Code Compliance Upgrades: Building codes may have changed since the basement was originally constructed, necessitating updates or modifications to meet current regulations, like adding egress windows, for example.
Hidden Utility or Infrastructure Problems: Contractors might encounter unexpected issues with electrical wiring, plumbing, or HVAC systems, and these issues may need to be addressed for safety or functionality reasons, and this will inevitably increase costs.
Design Changes or Upgrades: If, along the way, you discover that you need to make alterations to the original design plans to achieve your vision for your basement, this will increase basement remodel costs as well.
Delays or Interruptions: Unexpected delays due to inclement weather, material shortages, or scheduling conflicts can prolong the renovation timeline as well, and this could incur additional expenses if additional labor or accommodations are required because of it.
Unforeseen Permit Requirements: If you go into this project unaware of the permits required for the work you're hoping to do, then obtaining the necessary permits for the renovation may uncover requirements or fees that you didn't anticipated.
DIY vs. Professional Services
Another way to save some money when finishing your basement is by doing some of the work yourself. Of course, tasks like electrical and plumbing work should always be left to the experts. However, drywalling, installing flooring, painting, and replacing light fixtures are all parts of the project that many homeowners opt to handle themselves.
First, realistically consider whether these are aspects of the project you can handle yourself, and then weigh the pros and cons of hiring a professional vs. doing it yourself. For example, handling the drywall yourself could save you up to a couple thousand dollars, but installing it wrong could lead to unsightly lines or cracks in the future.
While energy efficient options, like those for insulation, lighting, and appliances, may add to the initial cost, investing in energy-efficient upgrades can result in long-term savings on utility bills.
Plus, it's not just about saving money. Energy-efficient upgrades also help the environment because when you use less energy, you're reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned to generate that energy, which lowers greenhouse gas emissions