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How Much Does It Cost To Finish a Basement? (2024 Pricing)

Typical cost range: $7,000 – $23,000

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Default Author Icon Written by Angela Bunt Updated 06/19/2024

Some homeowners are happy using their basements as storage space, but others see the basement as extra square footage to be used as a home office, home theater, or extra bedroom. The first step in this process is finishing the basement and making it as much a liveable space as any other room. A finished basement can add space and value to your home, though it’s often a project that requires a substantial investment of time and money.

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What Is the Average Basement Finishing Cost?

The national average for finishing a basement of 1,000 square feet is between $7,000–$23,000, depending mostly on the following factors.

  • Size of basement: The larger your basement space, the more it will cost to finish.
  • State of basement: If the basement is already partially finished, the total cost may be less.
  • Permits: The amount of permits you will purchase depends on the extensiveness of the project. The more of your home’s systems you extend into the new space, the more permits you’ll need. 
  • Labor cost: Labor usually makes up about 40% of the total cost of a basement finishing project.

Cost by Basement Size

Basement finishing costs usually range between $7 and $23 per square foot of finished space. This is a wide range, so the specific projects you have in mind will determine the cost. Upgrading to high-quality materials and undertaking more extensive renovations will increase the price, no matter the size.

Cost by Basement Type

A completely unfinished basement will cost more to finish than one that is already half or partially finished. An unfinished basement usually has exposed pipes or ductwork, little insulation, and concrete floors and walls. Plumbing or electrical wiring for the space is typically minimal, perhaps just enough for a washer, dryer, or freezer. The space may be used for storage or laundry but not much else, especially if moisture is a problem.

A partially-finished basement has some features that make it a liveable space. There may be a basement bathroom and some simple flooring and drywall. Depending on whether the space is connected to the home’s HVAC system, it may be useful as a home gym or laundry room, but it’s usually not comfortable enough to be a true living space. However, because some of the structural work has already been done, a partially finished basement will cost less to finish. 

Permit Costs

Finishing a basement almost always involves making substantial changes to the major systems of your home. It means extending the plumbing and electrical wiring and making sure the HVAC system brings treated air to and from the space. These are all changes that usually require building permits, which may total $1,200–$2,000. This includes inspection fees to establish that the new basement meets all applicable building codes.

Labor Costs

If you hire a professional contractor, labor usually ends up accounting for about 40% of the project cost. Since basement finishing usually requires hiring multiple contractors—an electrician, a plumber, etc.—you may want to hire a general contractor to oversee the project. This will usually add another 10% to 20% to the total. If you want to consult with an interior designer to plan your project, this usually costs $50–$200 per hour.

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What Are Additional Basement Finishing Costs?

Apart from the above, the most crucial factor in basement finishing costs is the scope of the job. If you’re starting from scratch with a completely unfinished space, you may need every project listed below, while partially finished basements might only require a few. 

Cost by Project Type

Project TypeCost
Waterproofing$1,900–$6,500
Sump pump installation$600–$1,600
Framing$700–$1,400
Insulation$1,500–$4,000
Flooring$2,000–$12,000
Electrical work$1,300–$12,000
Plumbing work$2,500–$15,000
HVAC$2,000–$11,000
Egress windows$2,500–$5,300
Ceiling$1,600–$3,600
Drywall$800–$3,000
Painting$1,250–$3,500
Learn more about each project type in the dropdown tabs below:

The first step of finishing any basement is to ensure that water is sealed out. This step is often expensive because water intruding into the basement may be a sign of a foundation problem. Cracks in the foundation and walls must be sealed, and basement walls must be coated with waterproof sealant. Basement waterproofing costs anywhere from $1,900–$6,500, depending on the problem’s severity, but the average cost is around $4,500.

If your yard has drainage problems, the waterproofing process may include installing a sump pump and drain to carry water away from your foundation and basement. Sump pump installation usually costs $600–$1,600 and is especially important in wet and rainy climates.

Framing is the process of building wooden structures that will serve as a skeleton for the basement’s finished walls and ceilings. Framing typically costs $7–$16 per linear foot, for a total of $700–$1,400. The more divisions or rooms you create in the basement, the more you’ll spend on framing.

Once the walls are framed, they should be insulated to keep the basement at a comfortable temperature. Fiberglass batting is the least expensive option, followed by blown-in and spray foam insulation, which averages $1.50 per square foot. Depending on the amount of wall and ceiling space that needs filling, this will cost $1,500–$4,000.

Basement flooring is one area where you can choose to save or splurge. Low-cost options like vinyl and laminate typically range from $3–$8 per square foot, including installation. Hardwood flooring, on the other hand, can easily cost up to $28 per square foot. Overall, you can spend anywhere from $2,000–$12,000 on flooring alone.

Nearly all cities and municipalities will require you to hire a licensed electrician for your new basement to meet building codes. The cost of your finished basement’s electrical work will depend on the existing wiring’s condition and extensiveness. The price could be as low as $1,300 for small extensions to the existing system, but if the basement needs totally new wiring, outlets, and lighting fixtures, you’ll pay more. To run an entire suite of electronics for something like a home theater, you could pay up to $12,000.

Just like with electrical work, you must hire a licensed professional to put new plumbing in your basement. Since most home plumbing systems converge in the basement around a boiler or water heater, you may have to change the existing structure of the system to use the basement space. If you want to add a bathroom, particularly one with a shower or tub, this will also be pricey. All told, replumbing a basement as part of finishing it usually costs $2,500–$15,000.

Basement HVAC projects can cost $2,000–$11,000. If you have central air or heating, you may need to extend the ductwork to keep the basement at a comfortable temperature. If your existing HVAC system isn’t powerful enough to heat or cool the new square footage, you may need to purchase a separate basement unit. 

If you plan on using your finished basement as a bedroom or apartment, you’ll need to install at least one egress window to meet building codes. This window must meet certain size requirements to serve as an emergency exit. Installing an egress window in the basement can cost $2,500–$5,300 and may require excavating a hole in the yard to make a window well.

Many homeowners opt for a drop ceiling to hide pipes and wires that travel through the basement. This may be part of the framing and drywalling project, but on its own, installing a basement ceiling usually costs $2–$4.50 per square foot. This adds about $1,600–$3,600 to the total project. Raising the ceiling or lowering the floor to meet building codes will be an extra expense.

Once the drywall starts going up (at the cost of about $2 per square foot), your basement will start to feel more like a livable space. Drywalling the basement usually costs $800–$3,000, though some contractors will do framing, insulation, and drywall as a package service.

Painting the finished drywall usually costs $1,250–$3,500, depending on its surface area. You can paint any exposed pipes or ducts the same color to help camouflage them.

Repairs

One of the primary reasons to plan for budget overruns is that you may discover your basement requires unanticipated repairs along the way. If contractors find water damage, cracks in the walls or foundation, or other structural weaknesses, they’ll need to fix it before the work can continue. Foundation repair is particularly expensive, usually costing $2,500–$7,000 for moderate problems and much more for severe issues. Although it’s a high price, it’s worth it to ensure the structural integrity of your home.

Hazardous Material Removal

Particularly in older homes, you run the risk of finding hazardous, outdated building materials like asbestos or lead paint in a partially-finished basement. In poorly-ventilated basements, there’s also the possibility of black mold. It’s expensive to safely remove or encapsulate these things, but it’s important that your new living space be safe. This is another good reason to leave extra room in the budget.

Features and Furnishings

Some of these features may fall more under the heading of a basement remodeling project, in which you give the space a specific function. However, if you want to add just one or two flourishes to your newly-finished space, here are some approximate prices.

  • Kitchenette: $15,750
  • Wet bar: $8,000
  • Laundry room: $3,875
  • Pool table: $2,800
  • Furniture: $2,000

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What’s the Difference Between Basement Finishing vs. Remodeling?

Some people use the terms finishing, remodeling, and renovation interchangeably when discussing basements, but they all technically refer to different things. Finishing a basement is the process of turning it into a blank but liveable space that can serve as a playroom or bonus room. Once a basement is finished, it can be remodeled or customized for a specific purpose. A basement remodel costs more than finishing—often in the range of $25,000–$80,000.

A basement renovation, on the other hand, is a lower-scale remodeling job, focusing mostly on cosmetic changes like paint, flooring, and furnishings. This can be accomplished for much less money since you aren’t altering the structure or function of the space. It typically doesn’t require permits and much of the work may be done by a non-professional. Learn more about the cost of home renovation in our in-depth article.


What Are the Benefits of Finishing a Basement?

Obviously, finishing a basement can be an expensive and time-consuming project. Here’s why it might be worth it.

The first and most obvious benefit is that you will simply have more living space in your home. By finishing the basement, you actually add square footage to your home’s floor plan that can be used for anything. Since it’s typically away from the flow of home foot traffic, it can be an excellent place for a secluded nook like a home office or den. 

Even if you’re not ready to fully convert the basement for a specific function, by finishing it, you’ll at least have extra climate-controlled storage space. Additionally, a finished basement doesn’t need many extra features to serve as a children’s playroom. You’ll increase your future remodeling options by finishing the basement now, even in areas where zoning restrictions may prevent you from building out or up.

When you put your home on the market, you can include the finished basement in the square footage to help recoup the costs of the project. It’s hard to say the exact return on investment (ROI) that finishing a basement alone will get since most reports look at more comprehensive basement remodeling jobs. According to a 2019 report from the National Association of Realtors, fully converting it into a living space has about a 70% ROI. If the space is finished but not remodeled, the ROI is likely to be slightly lower.

The exact ROI will also depend on the other houses in your neighborhood and what homebuyers in your area are looking for. If most homes in your neighborhood have finished basements, you may need to finish yours to maintain a similar resale value. Your home will also likely sell more quickly with a finished basement.

If you fully convert the basement into a living space, complete with a bathroom and kitchen, you may be able to rent it out for extra income. Keep in mind that a basement has to meet certain building codes to qualify for use as a bedroom. An egress window with a minimum height of 24 inches and width of 20 inches is an international standard, but there may be others based on your state or local codes.

An unfinished basement is not cooled, heated, or insulated, meaning that it can make the home’s HVAC system work harder to condition the air in the home’s main area. By finishing the basement, you take away that source of heat in the summer or cold in the winter, improving your home’s overall energy efficiency and decreasing your utility bills.

Radon gas is the second most common cause of lung cancer after smoking. In areas where uranium is present in the soil, radon can leak into homes through the lowest level. It can seep in through cracks in a basement’s unfinished floor or concrete walls, so sealing and waterproofing your basement will keep radon out as well as water.

Even if radon isn’t a problem in your geographic area, finishing a basement makes it less likely you’ll play host to a number of household pests that can bring disease or threaten the structure of your home. A finished basement is easier to keep free of rodents, insects, mold, mildew, and other health threats.


Should You DIY vs. Professional Basement Finishing?

Some aspects of finishing a basement are within the scope of a do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiast, but others are best completed by a professional. Here’s how to tell the difference.

Professional Basement Finishing

Any project that involves altering your home’s major systems—electricity, plumbing, and HVAC—should be done by a professional. Usually, contractors in these disciplines must be licensed, trained, and have completed an apprenticeship before they can do this work professionally. There’s a good reason for that: messing with these systems can have serious impacts on your home’s safety and livability. A plumbing catastrophe or electrical fire can compromise your family’s safety and your home’s value.

Beyond these licensed trades, you may simply find it easier to have your basement professionally finished. Pros know what they’re doing and can get the job done more quickly than DIYers. They can spot issues that need repair and adapt to any situations that arise as the project continues. They’re also insured and may offer guarantees on their work. Of course, the downside is the additional labor costs, but it may be worth it not to have to do it yourself.

DIY Basement Finishing

If you prefer the DIY route, there are some aspects of basement finishing you can do yourself. You can save on countertops and flooring installation costs by purchasing the materials and tools to install them yourself. Additionally, most finishing jobs, like painting, are DIY-friendly. Just be honest with yourself about your skill level and the time you have to devote to the project. Even professionals typically take 4 to 6 weeks to finish a basement; a DIYer will take much longer.


How Can You Save on Basement Finishing?

Here’s how to keep costs down when finishing your basement.

  • When making your budget, plan in advance for overages of at least 10%.
  • Do the smaller, more time-consuming finishing jobs such as painting and tiling yourself.
  • Use cost-effective materials such as vinyl and laminate instead of expensive options such as hardwood or natural stone.
  • Go with an open floor plan instead of sectioning the space into multiple rooms.
  • If you plan to use part of the space only for storage or laundry, consider leaving that area unfinished.
  • As much as possible, use existing plumbing fixtures instead of adding to or altering the plumbing.
  • Get quotes from multiple contractors. Be wary of any who charge much higher or much lower prices than the others.

How Do You Hire a Professional to Finish Your Basement?

Hiring professional basement contractors is similar to hiring professionals for other home improvement jobs. Here are some questions to ask of contractors you’re considering.

Are your workers bonded and insured?
If the state requires it for this trade, do you have current licensure?
What timeline do you foresee for the project?
What is your Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating and accreditation status?
Do you have referrals from previous customers?
What do your online customer reviews say?
What permits will be required?
What kind of warranty or guarantee do you offer for your work?

Our Conclusion

Finishing a basement is a substantial home improvement project in terms of financial input, but it also comes with a number of immediate, tangible benefits. You’ll have more space to use for anything from storage to sleeping. Your home will also sell for a higher price. If you choose to embark on this project, make sure to pick a trusted contractor. We recommend getting a written estimate from at least three companies before making your final choice. 

Free Quote: Get your quote on basement finishing today

Compare Quotes from Local Foundation Repair Experts
Typical Price Range: $7,000 – $23,000

FAQ About Basement Finishing Costs

How much does it cost to drywall a 1,000-square-foot basement?

At $2 per square foot, here’s how much it would cost to drywall a 1,000-square-foot basement depending on the amount of wall or ceiling space that needs covering.

Square Footage Price
1,120 $2,240
1,680 $3,360
2,240 $4,480

What costs the most when finishing a basement?

At 40% of the total cost, labor is almost always the largest single expense of a basement finishing or refinishing job. When it comes to the individual projects, plumbing and electrical work tend to cost the most.

Is finishing a basement worth the money?

Basement finishing usually has a fairly high return on investment, though you’ll need to take your own budget and needs into account when deciding whether this project is worth the money for you and your home.

What are the benefits of finishing a basement?

Here are some of the benefits of finishing your basement space.

  • Extra livable square footage in your home
  • Waterproof, temperature-controlled storage space
  • Increased home resale value
  • Increased safety from radon gas
  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Potential rental income

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