Basement Remodel Cost

Last Updated on January 7, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Traditionally, cellars were used to store food and wine. The low temperatures in these underground rooms made better preservation of consumer products possible, especially in times when there was no refrigeration. Only in the 1950s, Americans began to use the basements of houses as living spaces. Since then, greater importance began to be given to the design of these rooms.

If you have decided to renovate or remodel your home, consider building a basement or even modernizing it. Read on and you will find out what are the costs of remodeling and finishing a basement.

How much does it cost to remodel a basement?

The costs of basement remodeling will be affected by various factors such as the local labor rates, the level of desired finish, and the condition of the existing space. Plan on spending anywhere between $19,000 and $32,000 for remodeling a basement of 1,000 to 1,500 square feet. The costs for minor upgrades and updates for an already finished basement would be anywhere between $5,600 and $7,500, while for luxury basement remodels the expenses would be anywhere between $42,000 and $66,000.

How much does it cost to finish a basement?

The average cost of finishing a basement would be anywhere between $14,500 and $60,000.

The majority of homeowners said that they needed to pay anywhere between $21,000 and $24,000 for a medium-level finish for a 500 square feet basement, plus a bathroom. Depending on the size of the space, the cost of a high-end job would be anywhere between $46,500 and $71,000.

Depending on what you want to update, the expenses for remodeling an existing basement start at around $3,000 and go up to $18,500.

Depending on the existence of water, electric, and gas lines, and the size of the space, you should be prepared to spend anywhere between $3,200 and $16,500 for adding a small kitchen or a bar.

Depending on the level of customization and the size, you will need to pay $1,200 to $2,200 for adding a closet.

Be prepared to spend anywhere between $2,200 and $3,500 for installing a fireplace.

The costs will be much lower if you take into consideration an open-plan model. Also, you may be able to save 40% to 50% if you don’t have a lot of walls, which may need trimming, framing, or insulation.

You can also save thousands of dollars in case you work within the current structure of the basement, instead of adding or removing walls.

On the other hand, the costs will get higher if you want to add rooms, a bathroom, or a kitchen, upgrade the electric panel or install egress windows.

Like with any important home renovation, a huge amount of the total renovation expenses is represented by the labor cost. Be prepared to pay a minimum of 40% of the total estimated cost for labor alone.

The cost of basement finishing by size

One of the biggest factors that will affect the total remodel cost is the size of the basement. For instance, for a basement smaller than 500 square feet you need to budget $10,000 to $15,500 for remodeling, while for a 500 square feet basement you will need around $18,500. Also, if you want to add one or two bedrooms the cost will go up to almost $25,500.

You might also like our articles on the cost to remodel a kitchen, bathroom, or garage.

The expenses for 700 to 1,000 square-foot basements would be anywhere between $18,500 and $23,000.

The costs for a basement larger than 1,500 square feet will start at around $31,000, while for a surface larger than 2,000 square feet the costs will be around $62,000. Also, if you want to add bathrooms and rooms, the costs would be anywhere between $81,000 and $100,000.

The cost of basement remodeling and finishing per square feet

Expect to spend anywhere between $32 and $55 per square foot for remodeling a basement, with an average cost of $43 per square foot.

The average cost of high-end basement finishing works starts at around $82 and goes up to more than $95 per square foot. The costs may go up to anywhere between 35% and 55% if you choose to use high-end materials.

Keep in mind that these cost estimates are for materials alone, and the costs will increase or decrease depending on the complexity of the project, space, and materials.

Basement finishing costs breakdown

When finishing a basement in order to turn it into a space where you can live, you will need to go through several steps or phases. Below, we are going to give you the expenses involved with each phase.

Framing costs

The first step is to frame the basement and the cost of the materials necessary for this work would be around $1.25 per square foot. This part involves giving the space an outline by using a wooden framework to define doors, windows, rooms, and others. The finished work, which includes drywall and framing, would cost anywhere between $3 and $4 per square foot. So, if you need to frame a 500 square feet basement, you will need to budget around $550 for wood and $1,750 for installing drywall.

Costs for pouring new foundation vs fixing the current basement foundation.

It is mandatory to check for any cracks in the current basement foundation before starting the remodeling work. In general, if your house is more than 10 to 15 years old, you will discover cracked surfaces.

If the cracks are minor, you will be able to fix them with $650 to $1,600, but if there are major cracks and you have to use hydraulic piers, you will need anywhere between $9,500 and $17,000.

On the other hand, if you want to pour a new foundation, you will need anywhere between $22 and $25 per square foot. So, plan on spending $22,000 to $25,000 for creating a new foundation for a 1,000 square feet basement.

In case it is hard to excavate the soil on your property, you will need to spend another $5,000 to $15,500 for this work.

Costs for basement flooring

When talking about basement flooring, there are several options you can choose between.

The least expensive option is to score and polish the current concrete floor as this costs around $2.5 per square foot.

Also, you can use epoxy for painting the floor and spend around $3.5 per square foot. Or you can go for carpets and pay $1.5 to $2.5 per square foot for carpeting. Though, these are not ideal for basements as this is prone to moisture.

Ceramic tiles cost anywhere between $0.75 and $1.5 per square foot, while porcelain floor tiles cost around $3.5 per square foot.

Laminate or vinyl floors are maybe the best for basements because these materials can accommodate temperature changes and moisture. These cost anywhere between $3.5 and $6.5 per square foot.

One of the most expensive options is hardwood flooring, which costs anywhere between $8 and $12 per square foot.

Costs of basement ceiling

Be prepared to spend anywhere between $1.5 and $6.5 per square foot for basement ceiling, depending on what option you choose.

Here are the estimated costs for each option:

  • tile or wooden ceilings: $3 to $5.5. per square foot;
  • drywall: $3.75 to $5 per square foot;
  • tongue and groove wood panels: $1.5 to $4 per square foot, depending on the type of wood;
  • painting an exposed ceiling: $1.5 to $2 per square foot;
  • drop ceiling which includes lath: $26 per square foot;
  • installing a suspended roof grid system that can be covered with drywall or tiles: $1.25 per square foot.

Costs for drywall installation

Drywall goes over the framing in order to finish the ceilings and walls and is made of flattened gypsum. Depending on your décor desires, you can wallpaper or paint it.

Expect to spend around $1.5 per square foot for drywall, including the finishing materials such as studs, mud, tape, and others.

You can find drywall panels of various sizes on the market, which are up to 4 feet wide, and 8-feet tall, and 1/4” to 5/8” thick. Depending on the type you choose, a panel would cost anywhere between $12 and $25. Some of the available options include paperless, blue, cement, green, and purple boards.

Plan on spending around $800 for installing drywall in a 500 square-foot surface in an open-plan basement. Though, if you want to add rooms, the costs will be higher than $2,500.

The cost of installing HVAC in a basement

Be prepared to spend anywhere between $6,000 and $11,000 for installing a central air system with new ductwork in your basement, depending on the size of the AC unit.

A cheaper option is a mini split, which offers both cooling and heating. This may cost anywhere between $3,500 and $5,000 for only one zone system.

The cost of waterproofing your finished basement

When it comes to basements, the main concern is water leaks. The waterproofing of the walls and floor is essential because mold growth, insects, and cracks in the foundation may create serious issues and lead to health problems.

Plan on spending anywhere between $1,700 and $16,000 for fixing the leaks in your basement, depending on the purpose of the work.

Cost of remodeling vs finishing a basement

Basement Remodel IdeaThe project of finishing a basement refers to creating a space where you can live. Some of the main home improvements involved in this project would include: installing a cooling and heating system (HVAC), fixing/inspecting the current foundation or creating a new concrete foundation, adding plumbing for a kitchen or a bathroom, framing in walls, adding an egress window, an emergency exit to meet the fire code, adding insulation, installing a ceiling and flooring, installing drywall, camouflaging ductwork and adding electrical to fix the lighting.

On the other hand, remodeling refers to upgrading or updating a currently finished basement. This project may mean giving a new purpose to the space by adding a bathroom, knocking down walls, or adding more rooms.

In general, you will spend 25% to 30% more to finish a basement that has never been used, than remodeling a basement that is already finished. The expenses are lower because the framing, plumbing, and electrical work are already done.

Though, the costs may be the same as for an original finishing project if you choose to make a significant remodeling which involves adding a bathroom, changing the original layout of the space, upgrading cooling and heating systems, building or eliminating walls, and moving piping.

How much does it cost to add a bathroom to a basement finish project?

If you would like to add a bathroom to your basement, this means that extra plumbing work will be necessary.

Be prepared to spend anywhere between $8,000 and $13,000 for adding a bathroom, with drainage and plumbing being the most expensive works. Expect to pay more than $21,000 if you want to add a luxury-style large bathroom. Also, you need to take into consideration the expenses of bathroom fixtures such as showers, toilets, sinks, exhausts, vents, and others.

On the other hand, if you want to add a simple half-bathroom with just a sink and no shower head or bathtub, the expenses will be much lower, anywhere between $3,200 and $6,500.

Though, if you are planning to add a bedroom suite, it will be better to add a full bathroom. Moreover, the value of your home will increase by almost 20% if you add a bathroom to your basement.

Necessary permits

Any serious building, demolition, renovation, modernization, or rehabilitation project for your home requires a building permit. This document gives you the right to change certain elements of the house, however, you must strictly respect the rules, without deviating from the original project.

Permits can be obtained from the town hall or territorial institutions.

How do you transform the basement into a living space?

In order for the basement to be transformed into a habitable room or to assign it a special and unique use, it will be necessary for the room to contain certain key functional elements. For this, it will be necessary for the space to be compliant and suitable for everyday life. Thus, in the basement development project and its transformation into a habitable space, you must:

  1. Make sure you have a ventilation system or consider building/locating one. The position of the basement favors strong changes in temperature or humidity, something that can be felt in a negative way on all levels;
  2. Check if the walls are insulated, if not, make sure you include this aspect in the basement development project. Anyone who wants a comfortable and thermally adequate environment will need to take care of this issue;
  3. Make sure that all the causes that produce or can cause the appearance of mold, moisture, or humidity are eliminated. Use modern methods to eliminate these problems if they already exist. For example, you can consider replacing the floor, cleaning and whitewashing the walls with special anti-mold solutions, etc.;
  4. Include a separate electrical circuit to avoid overloading the network.
Alec Pow
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