How much does it cost to finish a basement? Is it a difficult/lengthly process?

Asked by Jai's Mom, Middlesex County, MA Wed Feb 6, 2008

We have NOT YET bought a home and are in the process of looking. We've seen many townhouses and single family homes with unfinished basements. BEFORE we buy one- we'd like to know how much of an undertaking this will be and approx cost? (We can't bring contractors to each home we tour- so I'm looking for a ballpark range) if anyone knows please!
Thank you.

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Jason, Home Owner, Virginia
Thu Apr 5, 2012
If you hire a contractor it can run between 20 and 30k for an average sized basement (say 1000 sq. ft) and average finishes. If you do it yourself you can do it for under 10k or less if you get creative. I did mine 1800 sq. ft. basement for 12,500 in under a year on the weekends. Check out the website below, it's got some cool articles about doing it yourself. It's not for everyone but it was great for me.

Cost of a basement breakdown:
17 votes
Mariyaluci, Home Buyer, South Miami, FL
Fri Sep 9, 2016
Very rough estimate of $2 per sq ft for sheetrock and $2-3 per sq ft for electrical (ballpark estimate, I'm not a contractor or electrician) Cost of materials and time required can push these numbers much higher...for instance high or multi-angle ceilings (typical in basements) the sheetrock costs can be higher. If your existing panel has no room to expand or your house isn't pulling enough from the street, your electrical costs will get higher fast. A TV room needs a lot of juice, don't skimp here just because it may be small.

Don't forget flooring....and inspections (additional costs and time).

All in all, if it were me I'd expect to pay $1000. Hopefully, you can do better but it always costs more and takes more time than you plan for in the beginning.
7 votes
Mark Smith, Home Owner, Columbus Grove, OH
Wed Dec 12, 2012
It will depend on what you want. Features and material can make a big difference in price. The range can be 12k - 54k.
7 votes
In the process of finishing ours for about $1,300. Drywall, closing off one room by building a wall with 2x4, adding electrical heat and recessed lighting. Helps to know people who are in the business and willing to help. I could see another $300-$500 more for paint and crown molding.
Flag Sat Jan 17, 2015
I agree with you Mark: it depends entirely on what you want. The price varies so widely that it's almost impossible to say. It also depends on the area you live in and the going rates in your area. This is a good ballpark range though, good luck on finding the right home!
Flag Mon Dec 8, 2014
Jean Doyle, , Mt Arlington, NJ
Wed Feb 6, 2008
Things you may want to keep an eye on as you are looking. If the basement is not finished does it have heat and electrical outlets throughout the basement. If it doesn't that will add to you cost of finishing the basement. The cost will depend on the size of the basement. You can have a contractor do the electrical, heating, and framing and save costs by doing the sheet rock and painting yourself.
4 votes
Justin Kilis…, Agent, Morristown, NJ
Wed Feb 6, 2008
It would all depend on what your looking for. It would depend on sq ft, who's doing the work (you or a contractor). It would depend on whether you want a bathroom added, the type of heating and cooling you would like to add and the electrical. I have clients that have finished basements in townhomes of roughly 1000 sq ft which without a bathroom ran roughly $35k. I have seen some done for less and some done for more. I would keep in the back of your head at least $25k if you're hiring a contractor.
Web Reference:
3 votes
CMLHoldings, Other Pro, Bartlett, IL
Wed Feb 6, 2008
Depending on the size of the basement and if you hire a contractor you will be looking anywhere between 15k-30k.

Good luck!
3 votes
jpuente728, , Chicago, IL
Wed Apr 10, 2013
Room Restorations, 35 yrs experience in Chicago Rehab and Construction you can email me at I dont think you can compare cost of any project without all the details. The magic is in the details , ballpark estimates are just games. You need to know products and finishes and quality otherwise your headed for trouble. The products could easily kill any budget. The qualityis often unknown . I dont believe you can give a blanket estimate without all the details.
2 votes
Mikem, , 01803
Wed Feb 6, 2008
Around 10-25k, depending on size and current condition of a basement. 10k would be on the lower side, and in most cases it would cost more. Although, this would include just the finish basement and basic electric stuff (outlets, lights etc) if you want plumbing work (like a bathroom) or ac/heating it would cost more.

And I'll agree with a previous poster, if you buy and then do a finish basement, you have to pay for it, if you buy a house with finished basement then your downpayment will only increase slightly.
Still, you should buy a house you like. Finish basement isn't hard to do, as long as you can pay to get it done.
2 votes
Dr Cheng, , Centrual New Jersey
Wed Feb 6, 2008
I would encourage that you focus on houses already have finished basement for one thing that the afterward cost is "out of pocket", whereas the buying price is only, say, 20%, if you pay down that much.

Say, you got to pay $20,000 more to finish a basement to a house you pay $600,000 with 20% down, then you need to have $120k for downpayment, plus another $20k to do the work. But if you can find one with basement already finished, you pay $620,000, your upfront money is only $124k, not $140k.

Also, your money to put on basement often can not deduct income tax, whereas, your bigger mortgage interest part can offset your highest tax bracket.

As some expert says, you need to find basement with high enough ceiling, big enough ...etc, or you may have afterwards surprise while trying to finish your basement ...etc. But, if you look for house that already has finished basement, you not only save all the hassel later and what you see is what you get, less likely to regret.

Sometimes, it may not be much more expensive with finished basement.

Also, it is not always able to put bathroom in the basement, some area need to obtain permit ...etc, so if you prefer to have bath at basement and you found one already has one, you would be sure not such hassel.

When you listen realtors' advise, you need to keep in mind, they are experts, they know all sorts of contacts, laws, and procedures, but when it becomes your turn to finish a basement, you may find lots of problems and issues. Just like if you as my friend Peter worked at Toyota as senior mechenics, he shall tell you that he change oil and oil filter every 1,000 miles, and it is good for the car, and he did. He did because when I went to Toyota Avenel saw him change oil and oil filter for my Toyota Corolla 90, it only took him less than 5 minutes. The box of oil filers around looks so handy, and the oil pipe just pull from the hanging string and plug in like gas station adding oil, while he was doing other thing.

If I could change oil as if all is free and convenience, I would be glad to change every 1,000 miles, but otherwise, you may follow some dealer suggest every 3,000 miles. However, I like to read, and I read all sorts of auto manual, my Toyota manuel says, change every 7,500 miles is fine, and you know I got a Kia Sedona 2002, and the Kia manual says change every 15,000 miles, so I now change oil kind of once a year.

Ok, my sister was top 5 realtors in CA, if you ask her, she would tell you everything is so simple, not just finish basement, but finance, reconstruction ...etc. Every multi milion dollar houses could not sell come to her hand would be SOLD right away.

Why? e.g. if you love a basement for a house to be finished, she would just tell the seller, and get her construction team (yes, isnt funny, a realtor has her own construction team) to finish the basement per your needs, so, as a buyer, you would be so happy to buy the house and close when basement is finished, and seller would be glad to have hassel free selling the house, and you would just pay down extra 20% of the $20,000 cost, assuming that's the cost, rather than worrying about paying $20,000 and finish basement yourself.

I kind of go too far away, but sometimes it would help alot for people lack of experience and knowledge to make best decision. If you think you can handle finish a basement yourself, you may also want to know that cost is very different. Say, I had a bath problem, all contractors came to estimate from $600 to $1000, and when I asked how would they do, they often said that they had to knock down the wall and replace the pipe and diverter ...etc since the parts are old, need new ones, after that down, need to put back the wall, then the tiles ...etc so it is a one week job, therefore, $600 to $1,000.

Then Maria told me about Jose 732 979-9100 (cell), and he got the super of an apartment complex who was able to find the used parts of the pipe from his box of old replaced pipes, and just use many triggy tools to access the spot and replaced with a used good part, it only took 20 minutes, and costed me $10. So, do you get the idea?

Then, I get $950 to $1,700 estimate on painting a condo, but, can you believe? Jose got it painted for only $400+, thereafter, dozens of neighbors all paint their condo and got a nice shine look again; it is so affordable. So, I would say, the realtor estimate is HIGH end of the cost; it is as if just "turn key" which is wonderful, not need to worry anything, just got a contractor to take care everything, but you can see the big difference.
2 votes
As a professional Contractor for 40 years I would not have Dr Cheng operate on me based on how he gives advice.
Flag Tue Dec 22, 2015
That was very helpful. Thank you.
Flag Sun Mar 31, 2013
OMG trying to read your post gave me a headache.
Flag Sun Jan 27, 2013
OMG, what the heck was this??
Flag Sat Mar 24, 2012
Marc Paolella, Agent, Succasunna, NJ
Wed Feb 6, 2008
Hi JM,

Roughly $35-$55 per square foot. If you need to install a heating zone, electrical outlets, recessed lighting, etc, the figure moves towards the higher end of range. This is for basic nice finishing, sheetrock walls and ceiling, recessed lighting, carpet, etc. You can spend more if you start adding wet bars, fancy molding, etc.

If you install a bath, and you probably should, add $10,000-$15,000.

If you are going to undertake this, do it right. Install a sump pump with battery backup, whether or not the basement has ever had water. You don't want to invest big money finishing the basement only to have it spoiled by a freak storm or pipe leak.

Obviously, you also want to look for high ceilings to make it worth it to finish. At least 7.5 feet including allowance for ducts and pipes. You don't want a ceiling any lower than that or the finish is really not going to add much value to the home. Good luck!

Web Reference:
2 votes
Matt Gowler, , Colorado Springs, CO
Fri Jan 31, 2014
I own professional basement finishing company in Colorado Springs. I recently wrote a blog post that breaks down the last 10 basements that we finished with size, cost and feature details. Hope that helps!
Web Reference:
1 vote
mikerizzuto22, Home Buyer, Canton, OH
Sat Sep 22, 2012
Rizzuto Construction/Interiors of Uniontown, Ohio charges $25.00 per square foot for a 7' x 7' glamor bathroom, electrical plugs, recess lighting, choice of dry wall or acoustal ceilings insulated walls and choice of floor covering. This price includes labor and materials. The residential code states that if a bedroom will be in a basement, since the basement stairs are the only way to access the basement, the basement is a confined space. A egress window well must be installed in the basement. Rizzuto Construction uses Bowman-Kemp Window Well Systerm and charges $5,500.00 for the first window and decreased the cost by five hundred dollars for every window system there after. For more information call Mike Rizzuto 440 590 1595
1 vote
That is good info, thanks.
Flag Sun Sep 8, 2013
Joe Nikks, , Port Huron, MI
Tue Jul 24, 2012
i have no clue. is there any really cheap way though. im a teen living in my unfinished basement and we cant afford to finish it. Its a little embarrasing having friends over in my tiny little room... without a ceiling. TIPS would be great, and ways to convince my parents finishing the basement would be great. Thanks.
1 vote
Nayna Bawa, Agent, Monroe twp, NJ
Fri Oct 14, 2011
Since you are looking to purchase a home with a possible basement, make sure that the basement is legally permitted. That is, make sure that the homeowner has pulled all the necesssary permits to finish the basement. If you are considering to purchase a house with an unfinished basement, in this market, contractor's prices may vary. You should have an idea of what you want to utilize the basement it just for a laundry or storage are, or will you want a legal bedroom down there? If you are looking to do the latter, you will need a proper place of egress. Typically, most basement contractors charge by the square footage. I would call one in for the house that you are seriously looking to propose an offer on. Get that estimate in writing so that when you do need to use that contractor, he will be committed to the same quoted price.

Good luck to you!
1 vote
Lucky Girl, Home Owner, Colorado
Fri Oct 14, 2011
It sounds to me like a lot of you have been ripped off!! We have a 2000 sqft basement and finished it for $7K - 3 bathrooms (1 a 5-piece master), 2 bedrooms, 1 wetbar and adult area, a playroom, and storage for all of our decorations. Before you all bash me with "no way in heck", here's how: big finishes can be done for small prices if you shop around. We did all of the work ourselves, we shopped on Craigslist, we talked to people we knew, we bought unfinished items at home depot and finished them ourselves - most importantly - we planned all of the work before-hand, and finished it quickly. We stuck to the plan, we didn't get sidetracked, we searched for pictures before so that we knew EXACTLY what we wanted before we started. shop around for plumbers - there are a lot of them, just make sure they have a license. The ones who already have full time jobs are cheaper - they don't need the money as badly. It's typical for them to charge $100 per outlet - that's $100 per shower, sink, toilet - for us, that would have been half our budget!! We found one that did it for cost of material and $50 per hour - they can plumb a lot in an hour!! Good luck!
1 vote
That is great! Congratulations! I don't mind hiring a contractor to do some work, even off the clock, as long as I know they are certified to do the job.
Flag Sun Sep 8, 2013
I wouldn't recommend using a plumber who is off the clock from their regular, full time job. They are required to sign a contract with their employer that they will not work off the clock, there is no plumbing company that doesn't require that. That means the work they do for you is not insured or warrantied. Only do it if it is a very good friend/family member. If they are willing to do the work for cash for less after writing you a quote on their companies invoice, don't do it, there is a reason they are offering to do it for cash, it's under the table. Not all licensed plumbers are scam artists, you just have to do some research. I would think these same guidelines go for any trade.
Flag Tue Apr 16, 2013
Builderkf, , Atlanta, GA
Thu Jul 1, 2010
Here is a free tool you can use to play with different scenarios. Hope it helps and good luck with everything.
1 vote
This isn't free
Flag Thu May 2, 2013
Rai, Renter, New York, NY
Fri Oct 7, 2016
Did you get an estimate? I too would like to know the cost to add a 1000sq ft basement in New England.
0 votes
Retailjoiner…, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Thu Jul 7, 2016
You have not mentioned for how many square ft. The avg range will be 50k-75k
0 votes
Michaelprise, Home Buyer, East Brunswick, NJ
Tue Nov 24, 2015
This depends on the project size as well as the features you want. Generally, basement rooms of 400-500 sq. ft. costs an average of $4,758, while 500-600 sq. ft. spaces cost $6,912. Pricing adjusts accordingly with remodels costing $8,213 for 600-700 sq. ft., $9,147 for 700-800 sq. ft., $10,471 for 800-900 sq. ft., and $12,632 for 1000-1400 sq. ft.

If you want to add a bathroom, that can cost an additional $12k to $22k.
0 votes
amazotti, Home Seller, New York, NY
Mon Sep 15, 2014
Think also about the arrangement of the basement:
0 votes
Jason, Home Owner, Broomfield, CO
Wed Mar 26, 2014
There's so many variables with finishing basements it's very hard to give a meaningful estimate. It depends on the state of your basement now, the size of the basement, the proposed design, the quality of materials to use, if you'll be doing any of the work, and so on. I just finished my 700 square foot basement, did a lot of the work myself, and the total was around $16k.
0 votes
Maggie Rescon, Both Buyer And Seller, Londonderry, NH
Tue Feb 11, 2014
The average cost to finish a basement properly, and correctly, varies but the price tag ranges between $45-$65 per square foot of finished space.

Finishing a 700 square foot basement may cost a homeowner between $31,500 and $45,500 to create an additional functional, beautiful and useable living space.

This cost to finish a basement per square foot is about half the cost of building an addition of the same size onto your home. According to Remodeling Magazine, a Basement Remodel has a 77.6% cost-to-value ratio.

It's worth it to finish your basement for the added space and the added home value
0 votes
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