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How much does it cost to finish a basement?

Finishing the basement of the house is one of the most popular projects homeowners take in order to utilize the area for living as well as increase the value of the house as a whole. However, finishing the basement of your home can prove to be an expensive initiative depending on the current state and size of your basement. In general, the average cost to finish a basement in the U.S. is around $18,395 for 400 to 1,500 square feet.

Knowing what type of expenses you will incur and how much each will cost you can help you get a better idea of the price tag of the whole project. As we go on to explain the cost breakdown, you will notice that you can save on multiple items.

Factors that affect the cost

Labor

When finishing a basement, labor typically accounts for around 10% to 25% of the whole cost. While you can choose to DIY some stages of the project instead of watching movies, you will find that a professional’s help is at times inevitable. For example, you will definitely need an electrician and plumber if you plan to have a kitchen or bathroom in your basement. The costs of hiring a contractor to finish up your basement can go up to $34,000. However, this is usually the case when they are doing all the work. The cost of labor also depends on where you live. If you live in a metropolitan area, then the cost will be higher.

Permits

If you plan to turn your unfinished basement into a livable space, you will need to get a permit in order to start the work. The average cost of permits including the inspection fees is typically $1,350. However, the exact amount depends on the scope of the project, where the house is located, and the size of your basement. It is important to remember that you can get fined if you start the work without a permit and you can even be asked to remove the work you did prior to receiving a permit.

Basement Size

It goes without saying that the bigger the square footage of your basement, the higher the cost to finish it. This is because you will need more materials and more labor time in order to cover the whole area. The cost per square foot to finish a basement ranges from $7 to $23, with an average of $25 per square foot.

Scope

A finished basement is considered one where the floors, walls, and ceilings match the rest of the house and one that has a permanent HVAC system and an interior entrance. However, some people may decide to go beyond this and choose to install a kitchen or bathroom in their basement and turn it into a separate living area. Depending on all the renovations that you want in your basement, the cost may be higher or lower than the national average.

Quality of Materials

You can choose to cut some costs by using lower-quality materials. However, keep in mind that even though materials of higher quality may cost you more, they will also last you longer. You can explore the Home Depot page to get a sense of the type, quality, and price of materials available.

Location

The cost of $18,395 is just the national average cost of finishing a basement. However, how much it will exactly cost you depends on the geographic area where you are located. The reason behind this is that the cost of living will ultimately affect the cost of labor and the materials available near your area.

Costs of Finishing a Basement

If you are starting from concrete, then finishing a basement and turning it into a livable area requires a lot of processes such as waterproofing walls, insulating, and framing them. All these tasks require material and labor. Below, we will give a brief description of the tasks and how much each will cost a homeowner:

Task Description Average Task Cost Materials Cost/ Square Foot
Waterproofing To waterproof your basement, you will need to start by filling up any holes or cracks in the walls and floors with hydraulic cement. Then you can cover the whole area with waterproof coating. $4,500 $5 – $10
Insulating Insulating is needed to reduce the thermal loss and ensure that your basement is not cold. Spray foam is a common material used for insulating. $1,650 $1 – $6
Framing Framing includes building a wooden structure with vertical and horizontal studs, which will be used as a base for the drywall. $1,795 $7 – $16
Drywalling Once you have waterproofed, insulated, and framed your walls, you will need to install the drywall panels onto the wooden frame. $1,750 $2 – $20
Painting Painting is the last stage in finishing your basement walls. $1,800 $1 – $3
Flooring Depending on the type of flooring material you choose, the cost may be higher or lower. For example, hardwood is more expensive than laminate. $2,950 Hardwood → $22

Laminate → $3 – $11

Keep in mind that if you plan to change the layout of your basement by adding walls or columns, you will also need to account for the cost of this step. One of the main materials you will probably need to use is concrete, and once you calculate how much concrete you need, you can easily figure out the cost of undertaking the renovation.

Adding a kitchen and bathroom

Nowadays most homeowners want to have a finished basement that includes everything one needs to use the basement as a separate living unit. This includes installing a kitchen and bathroom in it. Doing this significantly increases the value of the entire house since the basement can now even be rented out in order to generate income. The bad news is that installing a kitchen and bathroom may be some of the most expensive renovations when finishing a basement, because of their costly appliances, features, electrical, and plumbing work. Adding a kitchen can cost anywhere from $48,000 to $95,000 for an area of 200 square feet. On the other hand, if you want to add a bathroom, you can expect to pay somewhere between $5,000 and $50,000.

In conclusion, finishing the basement of your home can be an expensive project to undertake. However, depending on the renovations conducted, a finished basement can significantly increase the value of your home. So if you ever plan to sell the house in the future, you will be making back most of the money you spent in fixing your basement. Therefore, at the end of the day, investing in a finished basement may prove worthwhile as it will not only increase the living area of your house but will also increase the ultimate value of it.

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