There are many reasons you might want to refinish a basement: to add storage space for items not needed on a regular basis, to increase the living space of your home with another bedroom or a family room, or even to add an apartment to rent for extra income.
Whatever your reason, you will most likely increase the resale value of your home, and whichever route you take, the cost of finishing a basement will depend on a few main factors, which we’ll get into below.
The Costs of Finishing a Basement
The cost of finishing a basement has a lot of variables, as most home upgrades do. Weighing what you can afford versus what you want is critical here. While it might be nice to have all the bells and whistles of a sky-is-the-limit home renovation, there are many things that will affect the bottom line during a reconstruction event like finishing a basement.
The national average cost of finishing a basement is $25 per square foot or $18,395 on average for a 400- to 1,500-square-foot basement. This number could rise based on where you live and whether you plan to add features such as custom cabinets or countertops.
Ultimately, the final cost to finish a basement depends on how extensive the work is, as well as the square footage in the planned remodel. You can estimate labor to run between 10 and 25 percent of the overall basement finishing budget, and general contractors could charge up to $34,000 to do the work.
How to Plan Your Basement Project
The first thing you need to think about when finishing a basement is how you primarily plan to use the space. If it’s mostly for storage, you’ll want to include closets, cabinetry, and a shelving system in your plans.
Or do you intend to use it as a bonus room or lounge? If your basement’s primary function is as a gathering space, you’ll want to wire it so that you have internet, cable, and plenty of lighting and outlets.
Due to their subterranean nature, basements also require waterproofing. The below-grade format of a basement demands special attention be paid to exterior drainage, interior surface materials, and air ventilation, in addition to ensuring a safe way to exit the space during an emergency, like an egress window.
With proper planning, it’s possible to mitigate some of the major expenses associated with building below ground, so do your homework before the rainy season comes. Local government code departments often have building standards to guide the process.
As part of your efforts to keep the finished basement dry, you’ll probably want to install a sump pump for extreme weather events. Built into the floor with an automatic pump, sump pumps give peace of mind for when you’re out of town or have an excess of rainfall.
If you’re finishing a basement to use as an apartment or in-law suite, you’ll need added features like a bathroom and kitchenette. Installing both a bathroom and kitchenette can quickly cause the price to mount with the added costs of cabinets, countertops, appliances, and fixtures, so weigh the decision to add those features carefully against how much use you think they will truly get. Or consider going the budget route, forgoing top-of-the-line furnishings and appliances, if cost is a concern but you need those spaces to complete your basement.
How much it costs to finish your basement will ultimately come down to the features you add. According to HomeAdvisor ,\average costs you might incur finishing a basement includes:
• Sump pump: $575
• Waterproofing: $4,500
• Framing: $1,795
• Insulation: $1,650
• Drywall: $1,750
• Paint: $1,800
• Electrical: $1,325
• Outlets: $1,100
• Lighting: $2,880
• Flooring: $2,950
• Permit: $1,160
Adding a kitchenette can increase your basement costs substantially at $45,600 on average , with both cabinet and countertops factoring into the budget. Installing appliances is also pricey, accounting for anywhere from $1,675 to $23,600 of your cost to finish a basement. There’s also plumbing, wiring, cable/internet, and sink installation costs to factor in, too.
If you plan to use your basement as a bedroom, you can expect to pay around $22,200, which includes drywall, flooring, an egress window to make sure the space is compliant with codes, and other features like bedroom furniture.
Other areas where your basement costs may add up include if you opt for high-end materials, if you hire an interior designer to assist in the layout or furnishing plans, or if you add furniture to the space.
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How to Save Money on Basement Remodeling
There are many ways to save money on basement remodeling, the first being doing the labor yourself. If you’re simply going for a basic basement remodel for storage, this is a project you likely can DIY even without a lot of prior home renovation experience.
You might, for example, want to add corner shelves, install a pegboard system for mounting your tools, or build a wire rack system to store your bulky items — all basement finishing tasks you can tackle yourself without hiring outside labor.
If finishing your basement requires extensive electrical work and/or plumbing, however, you’ll likely want to call in a licensed professional to do that work.
If you’re on a tight budget, you might rethink installing a kitchenette or a bathroom, which are where your basement refinishing costs often add up quickly. A budget-friendly option for cabinetry could be purchasing from a resale shop or using old cabinets from another part of your house that you can refresh with an inexpensive coat of paint.
A basement remodel could serve multiple purposes — adding living space or storage to your home; providing a common area for your family to use — while simultaneously improving your quality of life and the resale value of your home. There are a lot of considerations to take into account, including keeping an inherently moist environment dry and comfortable, and additional safety measures that you’ll need to factor into the overall budget.
Wondering how you’re going to fund the cost to finish a basement? You could consider taking out an unsecured personal loan. With SoFi, there are no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
Photo credit: iStock/PC Photography
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