Property Q&A in 98105>Question Details

Seattleite, Home Buyer in 98105

What makes a basement "finished"? If floors are concrete and there is no drywall, but there is lighting and heat, does it count as finished?

Asked by Seattleite, 98105 Thu Aug 4, 2011

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I think a basement can be finished if it still has concrete floors. I think that it isn't finished if there isn't drywall though. You can make concrete floors look great, but you will need to have a wall before it can be considered a finished basement.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 23, 2014
Are you looking at bare studs in lieu of walls.......bare joists instead of a ceiling? The answer should be quite clear, based on a simple visual inspection. Homes under construction often have lights and heat, but in no way would they be considered finished...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
Hi Seattleite,

What makes a basement finished is the same as what makes a home finished. If the basement has lighting and heat, it may need further electrical work and ducts to meet current code in Seattle.

To help you answer your own question, logically, would you buy a new construction home that only had the studs, heat and some lighting? You might, but you would pay only for what was there and would have to get a construction type loan to finish it?

Based on what you are describing, it is most likely the basement you are considering would not count as finished square footage.

Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
Question for Anni. Is "drywall" the consideration? I just saw at least two that were paneling, as was the preference at time of construction. Paneling is not as popular now as it was then, but clearly many finished homes used paneling vs drywall.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
I just had this issue on a home that has windows, drywall, heat...but concrete floors. Since there are many high end properties these days with painted concrete floors, especially high end condos in major cities, I don't think concrete floors with area rugs alone suggest not finished or partially finished. And yet...if felt partially finished.

The appraisal is being ordered now. Will be interesting to see if the appraiser notes the lack of carpet or other type of floor coverings as a distinction.

It also depends on the style of home. The one above is a split entry where at least a portion of "the basement" was intended to be a finished space at time of construction It has a fireplace in the room with concrete floors. Obviously intended to be a family room or Rec Room. In Seattle you have many homes where the basement was never intended to be living space at time of construction and the conversion to living space is often difficult to justify, even if there is dryway, heat and windows, due to ceiling height and other factors.

Valuing the basement at the same price per square foot as the main and upper floors, is almost never the case, unless it is a "reverse floor plan" as intention at time of original construction.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
No. This space is not finished. I must have insulation, drywall and legal egress (emergency escape window or door) according to local code in order for the basement to be considered Finished and considered in the square footage of the home.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
Nope, not finished, just a good start. To be "finished" it needs to have what looks like you would live in it--walls, floors, ceiling all done.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
Keep in mind once it is finished an appraiser will not credit it the same value per sq ft as the above ground finished sq ft of the home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
No, you need finished walls & windows as well, otherwise most appraisers will not count it as anything but shop or storage space.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
What you described is a basement. Having a basement is better than not having one.
A partially finished basement means part of the basement has sheetrock which is mudded taped and painted, floor covering, molding, doors and windows, heat and light.
A finished basement is where all of the above is throughout the basement. You can have an unfinished utility room and still call it a finished basement, but that is about it.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
A couple of things. It may be finished in that it has heat and lighting,, is it a comfortable space? no. is it loosing energy? yest, can it be fixed, Yes. If you are in the city of Seattle community power works area, you could get some benefit by upgrading this space with some energy retrofits.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
Nope. It's a good start, but it ain't finished.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 5, 2011
No it doesn't count as finished. I may be marketed as finished but as an appraiser as well as a broker I would have to say it takes more than light and heat.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 4, 2011
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