Basement Finishing Costs & Considerations

Basements can often be dramatically underused. With a little planning and careful construction, a basement finish can provide wonderfully comfortable living space for an incredibly affordable price. There are pitfalls to avoid, but if done well, it can be the most affordable way to grow your family.

How much does a basement finish cost?

The #1 question we get from people is the ever popular…wait for it… “How much is a basement finish?” Here are a few sample levels of construction complexity that affect the price.

LEVEL 1: The Budget Finished Basement -- $45-55 psf

New Perimeter walls, basic lighting, flooring and trim

  • Keeping the current floor plan
  • New paint
  • Spray existing ceiling structure instead of installing
  • Sheetrock



LEVEL 2: The Comfortable Middle Finish Basement -- $55-75 psf

Everything is replaced with some floor plan change:

  • Rooms with real doors instead of bead curtains
  • Real walls and a real ceiling
  • May include basic bathroom or kitchenette
  • Some newer flooring, lighting and trim



LEVEL 3: The Destination Basement -- $75-125 psf

High-end floor plan changes that feel like the rest of the house:

  • May include bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms
  • Fun features like home theater bar raquetball court
  • Will spend a good deal of time in this new space



Of course, each Basement (and client) are unique, and a personalized budget will be developed for your project during a collaborative design process.

Some of our favorite Basement products and design elements

  • Projection screens and sound systems
  • Home theater rooms
  • Bars and Kitchenettes
  • Play rooms and exercise rooms
  • Vent-free fireplaces
  • Guest suites or “mother-in law” suites
  • Wine rooms
  • Game rooms and billiard rooms

Basement finishing problems to avoid

  • DIY nightmare  That Home Depot commercial makes this seem so easy. We get a lot of calls from people who discover there is more to a bathroom remodel than 30 seconds of an exciting song and Josh Lucas’s sexy voice. If this is something you are considering, call me and I can help walk you through the pitfalls-beforehand.
  • Too cheap to be true  We find a lot of advertisements out there for $20 basements that trap a lot of people who just don’t know any different. In just raw materials (studs, nails, sheetrock mud…) a normal basement project costs about $19 per square foot. Something ain’t working’ quite right if a bid is close to that.
  • Water feature  There are a lot of basements in the city that have water problems. Sometimes this is obvious (as in a big puddle) and sometimes it isn’t (as in vapor coming up through the slab). Water in any form spells trouble for a basement finish. Make sure you have checked this risk out thoroughly before swinging the hammers.
  • Egress  The problem with many basements is the little windows. In a fire or another emergency, these spaces can become death traps. Make sure if the space is going to be lived in, that you have made a door or egress window to keep everyone safe and sound.
  • Height  Code requires half of any room to have a ceiling height of 7′ 6″ or greater. If your ceiling joists down there are lower than that, you can still finish it, but don’t expect it to count as space when you sell.

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