What is the Cost of a Basement?

cost of a basementIn 2016 more than 95,000 people per month search Google for, "what is the cost of a basement."  Most of the time the websites they find say "it depends".  Thanks, thanks a lot.  So let's start with a super quick and direct answer.

The cost of a basement is between 10 and 35 dollars per square feet. Let's say an average basement is 1,000 square feet of finished space. So the cost of a basement is between $10,000 and $35,000.  10k if you're doing most of the work yourself and up to $35,000 if you're hiring a contractor to finish your basement.

Now. What is the cost of a basement for you? Well…. That depends. I have some information below that will help you figure that out.

cost of a basement tip

To save on the cost of a basement - "Follow the Big Dog"

Don't be discouraged if you think that amount is to high.  I have some cost saving tips that can bring it down significantly.

I've nicknamed my best tip "follow the big dog". It saved me almost 1,500 dollars and virtually guaranteed that I would get a really trustworthy and high quality drywall contractor.

But first, let's breakdown the factors that will determine what your basement would cost if you were to finish it.

Top 5 "cost of a basement" factors:

  1. Finished square feet of your basement -   I use 1,000 square feet as a good estimate but measure your basement to be more exact. This affects almost every cost related to basement finishing from framing to drywall. It's probably the biggest factor in determining the cost of a basement.
  2. Cost of labor (aka where you live) - New York, New York can be double the price of Nashville, TN.  Of course, if you're like me, you'll do most of the work yourself and then labor cost doesn't matter.
  3. Bathroom  -  Yes or No?  Full or Half?  Tile or laminate?  Mac-daddy shower with 10 jets of body-spray or my little pony $10 shower head. Add about 5k to your basement cost for a regular full bathroom.
  4. Escape Hatch? -  Yes or No? What I mean is, do you need an egress window?  Is there a way out of your basement besides the stairs? If not you'll have to build one and that means expensive guys with backhoes digging up your yard and bustin' up part of your basement wall.
  5. Flooring - engineered wood, carpet, simulated wood laminate? Flooring options can add a grand or two depending on what you get.  But, if you need to go cheaper, I stained my concrete floor for about $300. I plan to add carpet eventually but for now the kids love riding their bikes down there.

Cost of a basement by phase of construction

Here is a breakdown of cost by phase for my basement. Keep in mind I was my own labor, general contractor, etc.  This does not include books, permits or tools.  You can see all of the details including my exact budget in the "basement cost estimator" which you can get by subscribing to the newsletter. 

Trim and Doors2,00014.1%

How to save on the cost of a basement

  • You do the painting -  I know.  Painting sucks.  But pool tables don't, they're awesome.  And if you did your own painting you'd save enough to buy a pool table.
  • Do your own trim-work.  A little further up on the "handy" scale, I realize this. But you only need a mitre saw, a nail gun and 3 or 4 weekends. When you're done you can use those tools to build yourself a sweet little basement bar with the money you saved.
  • Be your own general contractor and you can save big on the cost of a basement. You don't have to do all the work, just coordinate all the trades, design and scheduling. You might be able to save 8-10k on average.
  • Buy re-conditioned tools  -  Used power tools are 30-50% cheaper and in my experience work equally as well as new tools. I only buy reconditioned tools.
  • "Follow the big dog" Say What? One of my best tips for saving money on the cost of a basement and it's free to anyone who signs up for the newsletter.

Basement Cost Estimator v1.5

If your brain hurts just thinking about all these options and you need some more guidance, I have one more thing to offer (it's free).

I've created an easy to use spreadsheet for you to create a custom basement cost estimate for your specific basement.  The link to download it is included in the very first email for subscribers to the newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

"Why do I have to sign up for a newsletter?  Why can I just have the link here?"  You may be wondering.  And now you are wondering, "can Jason read my thoughts?"  Cause I know you were thinking that.

The problem is that when the file is just out there in the wild-west of the web, zillions of spam-bots try to get it and then give it out as if it was their own. So I need to have a small barrier to entry. Besides, it's still free, you'll get some exclusive tips, like "Follow the Big Dog",  and if you hate it, just unsubscribe, no biggie.  I'll just grab the biggest pillow I can find and cry in it.

basement finishing jasonBest of luck on your basement project whether you decide to do it yourself, hire a great contractor, or a little of both.

Please feel free to email me or comment if you have any specific questions on the cost of a basement that I haven't answered here.

Cheers - Jason

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Questions and Comments

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment.

    • says

      I, have being doing this kind of work for 32 years . and at todays cost your can figure 36 dollars
      per square foot to finish out you basement. you will be safe using this figure.
      Gary Ivester

    • Michael says

      No offense to the author but I agree with the writer below me I am at 16.00 square foot using quality materials no bathrooms or plumbing nice electrical, stone ceramics real wood flooring bamboo, slate floor, carpets etc. I am excellent shopper buying in project advance saving 50 percent often so 23 a sq foot realistic and that is doing everything myself not counting fish tank equip, appliances, theater equipment, 10 dollars just not realistic have u seen material prices, I see no insulation moisture paints, hardware, moldings are insane, etc., same area I had contractors tell me 35-42 k for about 500 square feet. Be prepared to spend at least 20-25 sq foot if doing something really nice yourself, the picture in this blog is about 40-60 square foot from what I see on pillars lightening cabinets etc. Good Luck but be realistic, 30.00 square budget for and u will likely finish on budget or come in below to do otherwise and u will hate what u have done or u will not finish what u started. PS most municipalities and states require egress that is another 1500 doing it yourself 3-6 k to hire someone.

      • says

        It can vary greatly with your material choices. Stain your concert, couple hundred. Installing high-end carpet, couple thousand. I know more than a few people who did there's at $8 sq. foot. They just wanted a bare bones basement to get started. You can always upgrade you carpet, molding, lighting etc.

        Regardless, I'm here to help you guys get started and to finish.

        Good luck! - Jason

  1. Jim Seabolt says

    I notice your breakdown does not include excavation or concrete pouring cost. Do you have those figures as well?

    • says

      Jim - You're right. I had assumed most people would be starting with a poured concrete floor. I do not have any numbers on what the excavation and concrete job would cost. If you get any quotes would you mind posting them here? That would be a great addition to the spreadsheet and this article.


      • Kirsten says

        We are just starting our basement finishing job, and we have to remove our old cracked concrete, dig out a foot, level and repour the concrete.

        Our high end estimate for this job is $21,000.

        If we break the job up and hire each of the contractors individually, we can do it for considerably less. The quotes we've received so far (keep in mind this is in Canada):

        Dig-out $3500
        Structural columns, bracing $1800
        Interior french drains $1200
        Concrete and finishers $4000

        A plumber will redo the in-floor plumbing while the concrete is removed, I'm not sure of that cost yet.

        Hope this helps!

        • says

          Kirsten - Great info ! Thanks for posting. Sounds like a fun project. In my mind I'm imagining what my basement would be like with 18 foot ceilings... awesome. - Jason

          • Trish says

            We have tile that has been coming off of floors that had tar underneath. Was thinking about having tile done . The utility room definitely needs to be done but we had water pouring put of washer once that didn't drain in place think was suppose to. The water went under the wall. Suggestions?

            • Anthony says

              U can bleach clean and kilz spray the walls /drywall bUT it's recommend to remove the wall/drywall because mold will be growing on the back side of it and may spread causing possible health issues....run dehumidifiers if it's damp down there and remove anything wet...this is probably the reason for the tile coming up -excessive moisture and humidity

    • says

      Chris - I always wondered how much their system ran. How many square feet was it? What do you like or not like about the finished product. I heard it was pretty good. - Jason

  2. Ashley J. says

    Do you know e approximate cost of building as full bath in a basement if the electric and plumbing are already set up?

    Thank you,

  3. alice says

    We are planning on adding on to our home, possibly something like a 20x30 dining room area. I would like to add a basement onto this project. More of a storm cellar/root cellar idea. What type of expense should I expect this to add if it is a no frills basement? What should be some things I definitely want to have in this type of basement?

    • Farrell Clark says

      About how much would it cost to do a 48' x 28' cement block basement wall with zenwall panels ? Thank you

      • says

        Hhmmmm.... I've never heard of zenwall panels until now. I'd did a few minutes of research, they look legit but I'm not sure what the cost difference would be compared to a regular frame and drywall job - it's usually quite a bit more expensive.

        Let me know if you decide to use them, I'd really like to hear how it turned out.


  4. Amy says

    I am assuming your full bathroom estimate of $5,000 is for a bathroom that needs all the plumbing put in? What about finishing a bathroom that has all the plumbing already roughed-in (from when the house was built)? What do you think a low-end cost for that would be?

    • says

      Amy - Yes, 5k is with all the goodies. Plumbing rough-in, tile floor, tile shower back-splash, new sink, etc. Pimp Daddy. Let's say you used a vinyl floor (the new vinyls are really nice) a standard shower with tub - base cabinet, little to no molding and no closet (mine has a closet). I think you could frame, drywall, electric and finish a bathroom for about.... 2k? Maybe 1k if you really hustled and got some stuff from Craigslist, Freecycle etc.

      I'll have to add that to the list of future article - how to finish a bathroom for 1k or less. Let me know how yours turns out, something tells me it's going to be inexpensive but still awesome! Good luck! - Jason

  5. Jon says

    I have a 4ft crawl space that I'm thinking about having dug out into a full basement. Any idea what the cost of that would be? I've heard 50K, just to dig and pour the concrete, then you still have to finish it.

    • Sandy says

      We have a 1700 SF Ranch house, we were quoted $80K just to dig out the basement and have the concrete done, this does not include finishing it. We only got a quote from one company and hope to get more soon to see if we can do it for less. I have read online some people have done this themselves and saved a lot of money, but I really wanted a structural engineer involved. Hope this helps.

      • says

        Thanks Sandy - Several people have asked about the cost of digging out and pouring a concrete basement. Good to hear a few cost estimates. Thanks - Jason

      • says

        Wow. That's us crazy! $80,000. Where do you live? Today I was roughly quoted $25,000 in Bklyn Ny to remove old basement concrete and pour a new concrete floor. I was pulling my jaw off the floor for my quote. $80k seems ridiculous!

  6. Karen says

    i want to have a bathroom, but my basement is not stub for one.
    would you recommend a up flush toilet or invest to cut the slab and put a pump
    and if so any one has idea of cost

    • says

      Karen - Hmmmm... that's a tough call. I'm not sure of the exact cost of ripping out your basement floor to add sewer line, but I'm guessing it's expensive, think north of 3,000??? Anybody know this? Please comment.

      As for the "upflushing" drain/toilet - my parents had one installed and it works great. There's some minor noise when it's working but overall not bad. That wasn't that cheap either though, at least a $1,000 - I'm not 100% sure because they had the entire bathroom cost bundled into one estimate - including the drain.

      I'll see if I can get some more specifics for you - that would be nice to have on the website. Here's a video of my parents basement tour - you can see there up-flushing drain systems and hear it.

      Cheers - Jason

      • Marc B says

        It's going to cost upwards of $10K for us to have our bathroom roughed-in from the quotes we've gotten. This is in Canada, mind you, and in a place where labour can be pretty pricy. That's just for the rough-in work (concrete and in floor plumbing). Installation and any additional line work would be extra.

        • says

          Hello Marc - Wow, thank does seem really high. Are you saying they are installing rough-in in the concrete floor all the way to the street? Or do you have a basic rough-in and they are going to move it a bit?

          I'm guessing it's the full install - in which case - yes, that can get rather pricey. - Jason

  7. Angela Rose says

    I'm greedy - I have four questions: I have a finished basement - from 1974!

    1. Most the basements I see in pictures have beautiful dry wall ceilings. Currently I have acoustic tiles which allow handy access to electrical, etc. Also, if' there's a leak I only have to replace some of the tiles not have a huge repair bill, right? What are the advantages of drywall ceilings other than aesthetics?
    2. I have grooved knotty pine walls. Is it cheaper and/or easier to paint them or to cover them with drywall?
    3. I have a dense - really dense - glued down carpet in great shape - no lumps, etc. Do I have to rip it up or can I put a moisture barrier and laminate on top?
    4. What gets done first - the floors or the wall frames?

    • says

      Hello Angela -

      1. Did you see my article on drywall vs tiles? If you like your tile then I'd say keep it.

      2. It's cheaper to paint than to drywall by far. I would test painted a wall, see if you like it. You can always switch to drywall if you don't. Tip: paint it white or off-white!

      3. Hmmmm.... that's a tough one on the carpet. I'd have to say... ask a flooring guy to come out and take a look. I really don't have the answer on that one.

      4. Walls get done first. The floor is the very last piece.

      Hope that helps!


      • Mike says

        About your response Angelas Question 4.
        4. What gets done first – the floors or the wall frames?

        I work as a framer and my boss has told me that subfloor should be done first so that your walls have something to afix to other than the ceiling.

        this is for basements with a cement floor but no preexisting flooring

        • Kace says

          They're talking about finishing a basement, not framing. In framing, of course you put your subfloor down first. In finishing anything, you finish your floors last.

          • says

            Correct! Sub-floor, concrete, etc would go first. But the "finish" part of the basement floor, the carpet, tile, vinyl plank, that would be last. - Jason

  8. says

    Hello Jason,
    I see you are in VA. If you don't mind me asking, where in VA? We will be moving to Bedford, hopefully in the next couple of month. All of the houses have unfinished basements. Wondering if you could recommend any local contractors, especially an electrician. My husband is a plumber, but I will need a good handyman as well and a carpenter.

    P.S. I love your breakdown by square foot and the percentage, that helps us a lot in our planning and budgeting. We plan to use this room as the gathering room. The original size of the house is very small.
    In addition, we need a kitchen cabinet company.
    Thanks for all your helps and your website is great. I googled a lot until I saw your website, and you provided enough valid information that I didn't have to google anymore.

  9. Kyle says

    This was some great information. My question is more a starting completely from scratch type of thing. I currently own a 3000 sq ft brick home in Kentucky and would LOVE to have a basement again.

    Right now I'm on a cement slab... any rough estimates on the cost to excavate a basement under my existing home and finish the basement of roughly 1500 sq ft? Just needing a ballpark figure to see if it's at all feasible and then next step is convincing the wife!

    • says

      Hey Kyle - I have no idea what that would cost. A few people have asked a similar question, so if you do get some estimates on what it would take to dig out a basement under an existing house, please let us know.

      Good luck!


  10. Tawna says

    I am thinking of finishing my basement. The floors are concrete and they don't need replaced. The walls are fine also. It's more of a sealing, painting and putting down carpet job. I also have 2 concrete poles I would like taken out. I figured we could do everything except removing the poles. Any idea what the average cost is for that?

    • says

      Whoa, whoa, whoa Tawna - don't go knock out poles. Most likely those are structural and you won't be able to remove them from your basement. You can however, integrate them into your design. Box them in with framing and drywall or something like that. Not sure how big your basement is, but let's say 1000 sq. ft. To dryall the ceiling, paint everything, finish the support poles (not remove) and install carpet - I'd say your looking at close to 7k. The carpeting is probably going to be your biggest expense, depending on which type you choose and who installs it. - Jason

  11. Lisa says

    Looking to finish my 11,000 sq. ft. Basement and can do almost everything ourselves except the plumbing and electrical. Do you have any idea Of the costs for plumbing for a full bath w/ shower no tub and electrical lines for say 3 rooms and a bathroom. I have specifics but just looking for a general idea of costs. We can install outlets, fixtures ect just need lines done basically. Any insight is greatly appreciated.

      • says

        Hello Lisa - Aaaaahhh.... the luxurious 11,000 sq. foot finished basement. I'd have a bowling ally, trampoline and one of those velcro walls where you where that suit and then bounce yourself to the wall... awesome!

        Ok, I digress, 1,100 square feet basement it is. I would roughly estimate it at about 2,000 to 2,500 for electrical - if you hire someone to run lines but you do the outlet installation. For plumbing a half bath, assuming you already have the rough-in in place and you don't need to move it and no shower or tub - about a 1,000 (if you hire it out). You could cut both of these in half if you did them yourself. So maybe 3,500 all in, just for that specific work.

        If you haven't already - sign up for my newsletter and I'll send you my basement cost estimator spreadsheet. It has all of these basement costs broken down per square foot so you can play with different variables.

        Hope hat helps.

        - Jason

  12. David says

    Hi Jason. Thanks for providing this information. Here's a question for you. We have a 500 sq ft finished basement that we plan to renovate. The basement already has a bathroom, but we're thinking of moving the bathroom to the opposite side of the basement. Assume that we'd keep the existing toilet, sink, etc. About how much might it cost to relocate the bathroom? I'm specifically wondering how much it would cost to run the new plumbing connections. The new bathroom would be adjacent to the crawlspace, so the new connections would be short.



  13. Shane says

    I have some questions about acting as my own contractor. For example, if I have a plumber show up to move/redo some pipes so that other folks can come in and install the walls, flooring etc., is the plumber going to know exactly where the pipes and faucets should go, just by looking at the existing walls and drain, and by knowing our basic plan of what's going where? Can I get a plumber in to do all that and feel confident that the rest can be done by a competent handyman? Does the flooring need to be in place prior to the tub and toilet being installed?

    • says

      What up Shane -

      So the order of operations for finishing your basement goes wall framing, electrical, plumbing, drywall, finish work (doors, flooring, etc). The framing for you bathroom will need to be in place before you hire the plumber. But, you could have him come out and give your design a once over before you start framing, that way he knows the plan going in.

      To your first question, yes, he'll know where everything needs to go just by looking at the existing setup and your framing.

      Hope that helps. Good luck! - Jason

  14. Kelly says

    Jason -HELP!!!!!!!

    Just got the estimates for constructing new master bedroom and bath in my unfinished 1500 sf basement. I told them I would do demo, and to itemize the estimates so I could figure out items that I could do myself or postpone to save money. The general contractor with a plumbing and electrical sub came back with $60k estimate!!!!! I was thinking about half that but haven't given him my budget. Should I just get the itemized list and say "thank you." I am at a loss.

    • says

      Hello Kelly - Breath, breath Kelly. You definitely got a high estimate there. Thank them for coming out and then plan on get two more estimates. When you talk to the other companies tell them right over the phone that they shouldn't even come out if it's going to be over 40k. Now, keep in mind that 1500 sq ft is a big finished basement and no matter which company comes out you're very likely to be in the mid-thirties to low 40's range if someone else is doing the work and acting at the GC.

      I have a 12 page ebook on how to evaluate / hire contractors, it's free when you buy my book "Finish Your Basement". Even if you're not planning to do the work the book can be really helpful in understanding how the project is run. Once the contractors know that you know what your talking about - they're less likely to try and take advantage of you by overpricing the job - which in this case I think they clearly did!

      Hopefully that helps a bit. - Jason

  15. Duncan says

    Hey Jason my basement is finished already just really old school I want to rip out the old walls put up dry wall make it look up to date me and most my friends are in construction/carpentry already what are some costs for a basement 600ft-1000ft ? plus any good ideas on what to do with the space thanks

    • says

      Duncan - Happy Friday to you my friend. Let's see... so let's say 1000 sq. ft. of finished basement, you've already got framing and electrical (sounds like), you just need demo and new drywall. Maybe flooring? Let's say you and your homies demo it (beer and pizza). Then you hire out the drywall - (2,500 rough est.) Paint it yourself - maybe 300. Flooring 3k. So maybe 5k-7k. That's a very rough back of the my hand estimate. You're saving a lot of time and money by not having to do framing and electrical.

      Now what to do with it. Billion ideas here, that completely depend on what you like to do? Videos games and movies - build a bad-ass media room. Pool table maybe? I love shuffle board, and they don't take up a ton of room. Darts are fun and cheap. How about pinball, I have an old machine in my basement - I love it! Beer fridge, maybe a an old fridge with a tab hooked on. Bathroom would be nice, to go along with the beer fridge.

      Just a few ideas. Have fun with the demo! - Jason

  16. Sommer Carlisle says

    Hi Jason,

    I just purchased a 1500 sq ft. home in michigan. I have about 600 sq. ft. I'd like to finish in my basement, which includes a full bathroom. The demo is already done, and I don't require super high end items. Maybe hardwood laminate and some good buys from craigs list. If I do the waterproofing myself, how much do you think I'm looking at for labor alone, and would you recommend buying the materials in advance?

  17. Jessica says

    Hi Jason,

    We are planning on starting our basement soon and slowly finishing over this year. We'd like to do as much as possible ourselves to save money. Do you have the steps involved listed anywhere? We're looking for some guidelines as far as where to start and what order things need to be done in. The plumbing for the bathroom is roughed in from the builder and there is some framing done, but we'll need more to put up walls for a bedroom. There is also some electrical done as we have 2 lights down there but we'll need to make some changes.


    • says

      Jessica, Jessica, Jessica. Do I have some steps involved for finishing your basement listed somewhere? Yes... and no.

      The good news is that this website has tons of great content absolutely free for everyone to enjoy and learn from. The even better news (you thought I was going to say bad news didn't you) is that I have a book and a set of videos that coaches you through the exact order of operations for finishing your basement. You can find those here.

      Yes, there's a small monetary donation required (can donations be required?) but it goes to a really good cause... supporting this website! And funding the finishing of my new basement theater room - which I will of course document on this blog for you for free! Plus, you'll save a bunch of money and time by reading about all the mistakes I made and tips you can use to save money. AND finally, as a "premium member" I'm available via email to answer your specific questions. (secretly though - between you and me, I would do that party anyway for free, just email me)

      It's 100% satisfaction guaranteed or I give you your money back - albeit entirely in pennies. So check it out.

      Hope that helps! - Jason

  18. Nick says

    In Kentucky does any one know how much it would cost to have a 1/2 bathroom put in your basement. I will have to rip up concrete to get the bathroom in.

    • says

      Coming on Kentuckians! Nick is waiting over here and he's really gotta go! Nick - my guess is about a 1,000 to get the plumbing roughed-in to the floor by a pro (recommend). Then another $500-$1,500 maybe to frame and finish it (by yourself), depending on the materials you use. Let us know how it turns out. - Jason

  19. Red Panda says

    I'm curious as to how your calculation of the cost of a basement remodel is affected depending on the current condition basemen. Put another way, are your guidelines based on a completely gutted sapace with no existing studs, no wiring or plumbing, and just a concrete slab?

    For example, let's say you have existing wiring and plumbing. How do you determine you need to rip some of it out and replace it?

    Or say you need to do some demo work to remove the old paneling or a nasty drop ceiling? How do hou guesstimate that cost?

    Or, going in the other direction, let's say there already is a bathroom with plumbing and electrical so all you want to do is up-grade it?

    I realize everything is relative but I need something to go by when comparing contractors' estimates versus the guesstimated savings of my doing things myself.

    Thanks for being such a great resource!

    • says

      Hi Red Panda - Hope all is well with the complete rainbow pack of Panda friends. Good question here. The estimator is based on a "clean" ready to build basement. Just a concrete slab with bathroom rough in. I did not include any cost for demo. Nor did I exclude any costs for existing framing, electrical or plumbing. I personally did not have any existing stuff to take out or take advantage of. If you have some demo work to be done, you would have to factor that in on top. Hope that helps, Jason.

  20. Tarpley says

    Hey Jason,

    I have an unfinished basement that is roughly about 1,000 sq ft in size. It is already framed with a bathroom that has been stubbed, and it is almost completely wired (with the exception of the walls that are not dry walled, but there are outlets on the framed walls). However, one of the walls is a weight barring wall that I would like to move back about 10 feet to open up the main room more. On that wall the electric panel which I was told could be moved by an electrician who then told me that he could do all the wiring in the basement for almost $3000. I first felt like I was being ripped off, but now by doing more research, I'm not 100% sure. I want to have the entire basement complete, but only have a budget of about $6000. All I want is for someone to put up dry wall, a drop ceiling, possibly finish the bathroom. I can paint and stain the concrete floor myself. Am I on the right track, or am I off base thinking that I can get this done for less than $6000?

  21. Ryan says


    I'm looking to buy a home with a 1250 sf basement. I want to turn one of the bedrooms (125 sf) into the master bath then post and beam the load bearing wall to open everything else up (span about 15 ft). About 150 sf is utility room that I am not going to do anything with so my actual remodel will be 1100 sf with 125 sf as a master bath. I am going to need to cut concrete to connect the drainage and move the stairs back about 2 ft. I can do all the demo, sawcutting, framing, drywall hanging (not mudding), and painting. Thoughts on general cost $/sf if I do these things myself??

  22. Eric says


    We are thinking of finishing our basement. It is a small basement in total, about 500 SQ. We are only looking to finish half of it about 250sq for a small playroom and leave the rest for storage. I just got a quote of 16,000 which seems very high. I know there are costs for electrical, permits. The price also does not include painting or the floor. I got a quote froma company that I have used in the past fro My windows and Roof and I feel comfortable with them, but this quote just sounds crazy? Thoughts?

    • says

      Eric - That does seem a little high, especially since it doesn't include a bathroom. It's not insanely high though, depending on where you live. A good rule of thumb if you having a professional do renovate your basement is $25 per square foot (with flooring!). For 500 square feet you're closer to $12,500

      Of course.... if you did yourself.... You're talking like $8 to $10 a sq. foot - 4 to 5k.

      - Jason

  23. Eric says

    My wife an I own 11.5 acres outside of town and have considered selling our town home and moving out there. We're thinking about building a basement ONLY and slapping a roof on it - 2 bedroom, 1 bath, with open plan otherwise with kitchen in one corner and and wide open living space. Unconventional, yes, but would allow us to downgrade our mortgage payment while seriously upgrading our environment.

    Plan would be to live in the basement until it's paid for and we're ready to build "the house" that we'll live in for (foreseeably) the rest of our lives, tear off the roof and start building above grade. Have you seen this done before? Are there any red flags or alarms going off in your head?

    • says

      Hi Eric - Well buddy, I'm not one to squash dreams but this does not sound like a good idea to me. I've never seen this done before. I'm not sure you'd really see a lot of cost savings either. There are just of a host of unforeseen issues with a design that's never been done before. Yes, many red flags and alarms.

      Consider moving out there but build a very small regular house, no basement. Maybe one of those "tiny" homes? Then save your money until you can afford a proper build.


        • RD says

          My grandparents did something similar to this. They built their house and had the basement, rudimentary kitchen, outer walls, and roof completed first. The first floor was there but it is was completely unfinished on the inside. They lived in the basement (which was partially above ground so they had some natural light) while they finished the upstairs. Would you really save that much over the long term anyway I wonder? It seems like it makes more sense to do like my grandparents and frame out the upstairs while you have builders out there anyway. Also, you'd have to build your roof and kitchen twice if you only did the basement.

          Mind you, my grandparents did this without having to finance it. When the banks get involved they have rules of their own. Getting a mortgage is more difficult these days and I doubt any bank would finance a "basement only" house. The way they look at it, they need to be able to sell it if you default (not that you would, but that's how they look at it) and they would never be able to sell a basement with no house. Of course, I could be totally wrong but talk to mortgage specialists to see if your idea is going to work from that angle.

  24. Kayla says

    My husband and I are thinking about building a home with a 500 sq ft basement. This would be our master bedroom plus storage. My question is, how can we be safe from flooding. I see your parents had some issues with water and we really don't want to go through any of that. Also on the second entrance/exit, besides the wizard of oz doors are there any others you would recommend?

    • Marc B says

      To protect from flooding, you can install an interior french-drain styled system (installed along footings of the concrete) and a moisture barrier that runs into a sump-pump system. In an unfinished basement, depending on where you live, I've seen quotes that vary from $3-4K to $16K for this work. The materials themselves are about $2K tops for the drains, sump-pumps system, and concrete. The concrete work isn't overly sophisticated for this job, but it is a lot of hard labour and lifting. Not sure about the doors, though.

  25. Jason says

    Great site Jason. You helped me a lot in finishing my own basement. I finished my 700 square foot basement and did most of the work myself. I opted out of framing and drywall, but did everything else. My grand total was right at $15k. I used your estimation spreadsheet to get a good ballpark figure before I began. I was comfortable with this total so I dove in and got started. My family loves the extra space and I feel good that I'll recoup most or all of this cost when I sell the house.

  26. Sandy says

    I have a 650 ft basement I would like to get it drywall, finishing and painted. How much would would it cost me?

    • says

      Hi Sandy - Ok, let's see here. For 650 square foot basement - if you hired a professional to finish it I would put the total around $17,750. If you were to finish your own basement I'd estimate around $7,150. Of course - this could vary based on where you live and which finishes you choose, but there's a ball park estimate for you.

      Now I'm not sure from your question if you might have been asking about just drywall and painting, if that's the case then my estimate for drywall, drywall finishing (mudding) and painting - assuming your framing is decent, I would guess around $1,500.

      Hope that helps - hopefully that helps you estimate the cost of your basement.


  27. Dave B says

    Thank you all for your contributions. We are looking at a home with an unfinished basement where the owner has it framed out and wanted to get some ideas on costs to finish. Much appreciated.

  28. kristin says

    Hey about how much would it be to level out a floor and install a rug through out the whole basement i think the space might be 20' x 14' and I might be OVER estimating. Depending on the cost of that I could talk about finished walls but definitely floors first!

  29. Kim Anderson says

    I am purchasing a home that has a partially finish basement. The only thing left to do is finish the rough-in bathroom(it has been framed, plumbed and insulated) and the ceiling(drywall and insulation only). Can you give me a rough estimate on what it would cost to finish it?

  30. jenn says

    I have a basement that's just a little over 1100 square feet that I am looking to get finished with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. I also need to raise the floor a bit because of a little flooding in the basement we have about 12 foot ceilings maybe a little higherits already finished with sheila and a concrete floorI live in New Jersey what would the cost of something like that be

  31. T Jameson says

    Just finished totaling up my costs to finish my basement. Although the tax revenooer sez it's 1500 SF, by my very accurate calcs (with spreadsheet and CAD and everything) it's 700 SF of laminate flooring and 500 SF of carpet.
    Particulars - bare basement with badly finished slab and bat insulation on the walls, (3) garden windows that had enough egress to pass inspection. Made a 15'x19' great room, two 6'x12' walk-in closets, a 5'x10' workroom, 5' x 8' full bath with tub and external linen closet, 9'x13' office, unfinished 8'x8' utility room, 12'x15' bedroom, 6'x12' "bistro", 6'x6' wine room, and gun safe room under the stairs. Also a built-in display cabinet, lots of under and over counter cabinets (unfinished from Lowes), bifold and regular doors.
    Had someone do SLUL floor prep (after I screwed it up trying to grind it, then do SLUL myself. The Mexicans did the drywall and texturing (I wouldn't trust anyone else, they are so good!). A plumber handled the PEX plumbing after I ran drain lines, and installed the tubs (regular and laundry tub in the workroom). I bought a good pressure paint sprayer and painted it myself in just hours after all trim was installed - paid for the sprayer on one job, and I'll have it when I paint the house and restain the deck. The carpet was installed, but I did the laminate flooring myself. I also did floating wall framing throughout, firestops, electrical (except for installing the 100A subpanel in the basement from the main panel in the garage)
    Total cost - to date, with nothing I know of left to buy (and we know how that usually works out;), is $28,000, including permit, equipment, materials, and contracted labor. Building permit (included) was about $1,700 - but I got most of that back through tax-exempt status at Lowes and HoDepot.
    Takeaways? Make sure your floor is level by using SLUL or having it done to start - if you're using laminate flooring, it's critical to do it right. If you're just carpeting, your furniture will wobble if the carpet is just put in over an uneven floor. Have the drywall and texturing done by pros. Electrical is easy if you take your time and double-check everything. Get a permit, and make sure the inspectors do their job and give you all the tips they can. Framing is not hard at all - just make sure it's very square, and you don't try to move 12' panels by yourself (quick way to strain a disc in your back). Never buy more than the framing lumber you can use in a couple of days, because it will warp (remember, I also buy my lumber at Home Depot and Lowes, but every piece, unless hand-selected, will be like my friends - twisted and warped). If you need a piece of equipment, buy it and buy good equipment - the job will go easier, it will pay for itself on the first job, and then you'll always have it.

    Good luck, and have fun!

  32. Sri Padu says


    I have a 265 sq ft basement that needs a dry wall with insulation, vinyl flooring to cover the cemented floor, a half bath, a wooden door, some duct work to conceal ceiling wires and wall painting. I have received a quote of $ 16,050 for the job with an addition of $ 1200 for the vinyl flooring. Is that too high? Thanks.

    • says

      16k for 265 sq feet? That's about $60 per square foot. Yes, that's too high. That's twice what you should pay. I'd want to see it closer to $30 per square foot if you're hiring it out. If you did it yourself you'd be closer to $15 or even lower. Hope that helps. - Jason

  33. Patrick says

    your prices are ridiculous, you couldn't finish your basement for that in a third-world country,
    at 1000 square your prices don't even cover material costs,

    • says

      Hey Patrick - It can be difficult to believe if you haven't done it but I assure you it's not only possible it's doable. I have at least, at least!, 100 people finish their basements on very limited budgets - with fantastic results.


  34. Angie says

    We want to finish our basement , the basement is about 400 sq ft and the electrical is done on one side of the basement we just need to add more outlets onthe other side so my husband can plug in his computers .we want to add a small bedroom and a small family room a small office and a small bathroom that the plumbing is there from the builder and we will put in a stand up shower .do you think we could do it for 6000?

  35. Brad says

    We recently moved into our house last October. The basement is four room and finished although still has a basement feel to it. I'd say 1000 square feet is a good estimate. i'd like to knock down one wall to make two rooms a larger rec room and leave the rest of the framing as is. It still has a basement "feel" to it so i'd like to put up drywall with insulation. Most of the electric can be left as is. Also a plumber said our laundry room is big enough for a bathroom and the pipes are already in place. Flooring isn't an issue and i'll paint myself. There are tile ceilings that may be better to look at if drywalled. What do you think a rough estimate of the project would be? I'm learning to be a handy man so i'll do some of the work myself, my wife's uncle is a contractor but he's hard to schedule

  36. Bobby Hutchinson says

    I live in the St. Louis Missouri metro east, and I'm about to finish my basement in the next few weeks. I'm a disabled veteran and an above knee amputee. I'm not scared of hard work, but I'm pretty slow these days. Can you tell me about how much labor costs in the St. Louis vicinity? I wish I could win a free basement makeover, that'd be awesome! Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Bobby - Thank you for your service, coming from a military family I really appreciate what you guys do, regardless of your role. Unfortunately I'm not sure about St. Louis labor rates. Given that it's a fairly big city I'd say it's on par with other large metro areas. For basement finishing if you hire all of it out, you can estimate between 20 and 30 dollars a square foot for parts AND labor.


  37. nicole says

    I have about a 1000sq ft basement that i strarted painting but i cannot finish it on my own so i would like to know a rough estimate what the cost would be to finish painting the rest of it if i hired a painter i already have all the paint and supplies. All the walls are wood panneling with kind of deep/wide cracks that need to all be painted still..I have taped all the baseboards already and i have plastered about 85% of all the walls and two square wood paneled pillars about 2ft on each side..I do not want to have to pay a ton to have someone come finish it for me if so i will try and do it my self...also would anyone have a slight idea how many hours it would most likely take to finish all of it?

    Thank you i can't find the right information anywhere and its driving me totally crazy lol

  38. Dennis says

    Hello Jason,

    I have a basement of 460 square feet, I have old paneling and I want to demo all that and do it all again. My question is; how much it will cost to do my basement? I also what to have water guard drainage system install can you tell me how much that will cost?

    • says

      Hi Dennis -

      I'm not sure how much the water guard system will cost, not familiar with that system. But a 460 square foot finished basement, if you did most of the work yourself, should cost between 4,600 and 7,000. That's if you do the framing, permits, electrical, plumbing, trim and doors, hire out the drywall.

      If you really watched your dollars and borrowed tools and got stuff from freecycle or restore stores - you might be able to do it for 3k as a rock bottom cost. If you can do it for less than that, let me know! I want to learn from your Jedi tricks.

      Good luck!


  39. Dave says

    Your article is titled "what is the cost of a basement" right? I came to your site with the same question. I am looking for the cost of a poured unfinished basement, not a (currently poured) "finished" basement which is what you are referring to. Unless of course you are referring to a poured basement plus finish (which I'm sure you are not). I'm sure it's an innocent mistake but please correct your title. Not everyone has an existing basement.

  40. eliza says

    Hi Jason! We are finishing basement..430 sq ft. ..they gave us a quote for 8k and that only includes framing, drywall, electrical, plumbing and labor for just the bedroom and a bathroom though...is that expensive or fair enough?

  41. Jay Cee says

    I finished our basement 20 years ago. It was partly finished already, meaning walls, electric and plumbing were in. No flooring and no ceiling. It cost me less than $1000 to do this myself. Granted it was 20 years ago but it was going to be more expensive to hire someone to install a dry wall ceiling (it's not something I can manage myself). We needed access to the plumbing a few times over the years so I am glad I did it that way at that time. The up side is that we now must replace our old furnace with an energy efficient one and it has to be vented out the back (not through the chimney as it is now). Access is easy because it's a drop ceiling. HOWEVER, since U an updating the basement anyway (needs new flooring already) I have realized the drop ceiling looks really cheap. I will have someone else install a dry wall ceiling now = with a ceiling door to the water shut-off valve (located about 1/3 of the room distance from the walls). So I am in agreement with doing a dry wall ceiling esp. to increase the value of my home - the purpose of finishing the basement in the first place. I have a QUESTION though because of new materials out there for flooring. I originally installed a commercial grade thick carpet with a thick backing that acted as a pad. So I did not install a separate pad first. My wife uses the basement more than I do and she says the floor is always too cold. So my question is, if I remove the old carpet and replace it with a thick pad and a thick carpet, will that be warmer or is there a better way to do this? I read about a "moveable" subfloor but I don't think I want a floor that's moveable, do I? Help me out here?

    • says

      Yo Jay Cee - What up!

      Adding padding will not make your basement floors any warmer than your existing thick carpet. If your existing flooring was tile or vinyl plank - then I might say yes, carpet and pad would make the floor feel warmer.

      Your only option for floor heating specifically (not general basement heating) is to install 'Radiant heating'. Fortunately, this is very easy to do over concrete and quite effective. Unfortunately it's very expensive, like 5-7k for a 1,000 square foot finished basement area.

      A move-able floor just means that it isn't glued or nailed down, it sort of "floats" over the sub-floor. Don't worry, it won't stand up and walk away. But it also won't do much to warm up the air coming up from the floor.

      Hope that helps. Tell your wife to put some socks on, her feet will be warm for about 50 cents. - Jason

  42. Eric says

    Hi Jason,

    Could you elaborate on what you did with your floor? I know you said you stained it yourself for $300. In the brief research I've done on staining concrete, it seemed to be on the expensive side and something that was recommended to hire someone for. Was there a specific product/procedure you could explain?


  43. Tim Macasek says

    Hey Jason, thanks for the information on this site. My wife and I just purchased an old ranch with a large (1,296 square feet) partially finished basement. I used to do blueprint take-offs for contractors and am nowhere near the $20 square foot mark. I included framing, electrical, drywall, flooring and a basic bathroom. I'm closer to the $9-$10 mark. Any ideas where I might be way off? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Tim - $9-$10 is about right for the materials, but if you add in the overhead for labor and management you are usually looking at a minimum of $20. If you can get a quote from a company for $10 per square foot to finish a basement please post it back here! We'd love to know who they are! - Jason

  44. Ron says

    I got an estimate to finish a 1600 square foot basement without a bath. Insulation framing, drywall, electrical, drop ceiling, carpeting with pad, HVAC is costing $30k in far west suburb of Chicago. Is this a reasonable price? Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Ron - Yes. Very reasonable. That's $18.75 per square foot; very good. One question though... Is there a bathroom in there? If yes, you have a great price. If no, you have "good" price. Add maybe 5k for a bathroom. - Jason

  45. Cuong Tran says

    HiJason, I got an estimate to finish a 1100 Sf basement : insulation and sheet rock all walls and ceiling, half bath, all tiles floor, FHW (base board) heating by gas, 12 recessed light, 3 surface mounted lights, 2 exhaust fans vent to outside, hardwood stairs down, electrical...is costing $37K in Quincy, Massachusetts. What do you think,? Thank you.

    • says

      Hello Cuong - Not too bad. Normally that would be a bit on the high side - $33 a square foot - but with the hardwood steps, exhaust fans and tile floor - that's pretty good. Sounds like a legit cost to finish your basement.

      You're going to tile the entire basement floor??? In Quincy, Mass?? Where's it's butt cold? Any particular reason why? I would tile the bathroom but install carpet for the rest of the floor. It's YOUR basement though - I'm not one to judge. Wait a minute; yes I am. I'm very judgy. I'm judging your tile floor option right now! JK. Good luck!

      Let me know if you have any more questions. - Jason

    • Mike N. says


      Do you mind sharing what company/contractor you are using? Those numbers seem more reasonable that the estimates I have received so far for my basement work.
      If you don't mind me asking, is there a reason you are going with drywall instead of water proof walls?

      • says

        Hi Mike - The only company I hired was for drywall. If you want to email me I'll send you their info. They primarily work in Norther Virginia though. I'm not sure what you mean by "water proof walls"? No walls are completely waterproof. I suppose concrete or cinder block would hold but best to water but even then not for long. The key is to eliminate or severely mitigate any basement moisture issues BEFORE you start to finish it.

        Good luck! - Jason

    • Richard says

      Who was your contractor I'm in Quincy and want to finish my basement. How did it come out? Were you happy with it?

  46. Raj says

    Hi Jason,
    I have a unfinished basement of approximately 1200 sq ft with roughing. I want to put the Standing Shower and kitchen/bar with sink and dishwasher and knee wall on one side with open entrance to make a open room and few recess lights. Make a room for heating and ac unit. No rooms at all. !! I got an estimate of $16,000 just for the labor and i have to buy the material. Your comments please. Thank You !!

    • says

      Raj - that's not to bad for labor considering the work you're having done. A lot will depend on your location as well. I would strongly recommend getting 2 other quotes. Good luck! - Jason

  47. Patti says

    Hi. We just built a new home. We have the plumbing roughs in for a 3 piece bathroom and the walls are insulated. The basement is 1,000 sq. ft. We need the electrical, framing and drywall put in. I can paint it myself and thinking of good carpeting. I was gestating 10-20k but it sounds like my budget is too low. I already have in mind a drywalled and electrician so I am assuming I could be my own contractor? The builder could have finished the entire basement for 20k and I was told that was high and would be better off finishing it down the road once the basement dries out after 1 year. We are in the midwest area. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Patti - Well, if you are the general contractor you can save quite a bit - but it sounds like you'd be hiring out all of the phases and not doing any yourself? I would say 20 - 25 k is your range. The "wait until the basement concrete cures (dries out)" is a common myth. There are thousands of homes built brand new with finished basements that are just fine.

      It's very difficult to beat the builder price on basements UNLESS you are planning to do some of the work yourself. The builder already has the labor and plans and most likely bought the materials at significant discount. In most cases - it's a good value to have them do it. - Jason

  48. DBM says

    Jason - have you ever heard of the website? There is a cost vs. value section which outlines by region what certain types of remodeling projects cost, on average, and what you get back for the spend when you sell. There is a basement remodel section there, I live in NJ and was looking at the mid-atlantic region - the averages seemed extremely high, and contrary to your $25-$30 per sq ft baseline for contracting out.
    This came up when a contractor provided me a $60k quote for basic 750 sq ft finish (w half bath). He had it printed off and used it as part of his sales pitch. Fortunately I was educated enough, thanks to you, to punch some holes in his logic, since I couldn't punch him in the face.
    Obviously, I won't be speaking with him again, but curious to know your thoughts on this site or others like it that you have come across.

    • says

      60K for 750 square feet!!! Are you kidding me. Those walls better be made of gold. I never advocate violence, except that one time I drank too much at a party... anyway.... I will check out this website. There are a lot of factors that can affect cost, especially where you live and which "contractors" are giving you the quote. 60k... for a 750 square foot basement - unbelievable. - Jason

  49. UK says

    I got quote a quote for 720 sqf basement area for 21 K. This included a separate room with full bathroom with standing shower(Pluming cost included). Includes dry wall installation (220 linear feet) and carpeted. Also included is cost of drop ceiling and 7 high hats lights. They will move laundry/dryers gas & electric connection to separate unfinished area which will be separated by 6 panel hollow doors. The carpets and fixtures are standard grade with allowance amounts specified, and we would pay the excess for upgrades. We live in NJ and cost per foot seems to be ok...around $29 per sq. ft. This guys are licensed and I was pleased with the deck job they did.
    Do I need to spell out any specific details in the contract to avoid unexpected? ...since the quote seems to be good and we are planning to go ahead with this company .
    Thanks UK

  50. JJ says

    We are looking at buying a 7000 sq ft half-finished house. The exterior is finished, as are the inside shell walls (drywall up and mostly painted). There are cement floors (2 levels) with hot water heating, and roughed-in plumbing for the bathrooms. BUT there are no inside walls at all. We've finished basements before, so we do have basic building skills (framing, sheetrock, electrical, etc.). I'm thinking it will be similar in cost to finishing a basement - do you think your basement estimating tools would work in this situation? I'll sign up if they will!

  51. Sara says

    Hello there we are looking to finish our basement. It is 504sq feet. We don't need a bathroom and there is already electrical hook ups. We just need it to look more like a room and not part of our garage :) What do you think on price?

    • says

      Hi Sara - No bathroom and it sounds like it's already framed and has electrical. Maybe 5k? Even less if you did it yourself. - Jason

  52. Mr D says

    Hi Jason,
    I am buying a brand new house from a builder and have an option to finish 680 sqft of basement for 29k. Included are a room a bathroom a living and a furnace. Is this a good price or should i look elsewhere?

    • says

      Hello Mr D (cousin to Mr T I presume ?) Builder finished basements are almost always a good price. They already have the permits, contractors and materials ready to go so it's hard to beat their prices, speed, and guaranteed quality. In this case 29k for only 680 sq feet seems a little on the high side but with the bathroom and the furnace I think it may be pretty good. I would go with them. - Jason

  53. Mr D says

    Thanks for the reply, Jason.
    Had a typo there. Its 860 sq feet not 680.....so it sounds like a great deal then!

  54. Joe says

    I have an unfinished basement about 1100 sqft. We wanted 2 bedroom and a full bathroom and a family room. We got quote for 35,000 with carpet in bedroom and family room and tile in bathroom as well as the shower. Do you think this is a good price? Yeah I'm in Utah

    • says

      Yes, I think that's a decent quote. It works out to just over $30 a square foot but with the bathroom in there as well, not bad. Just make sure this company has a good reputation and you should ask about the quality of the carpet and tile that will be included. Will the carpet also include a good padding??? That can help a ton when working over a concrete basement sub-floor. - Jason

  55. Har says

    I've a finished basement and want to remodel it to build a home theatre. I'm expecting it to come about 250-300 SF in total. any estimate on how much it would cost me

    • says

      Sweet... a home theater, my all time favorite project. You're not giving my much to work with here Har but I'll give it my best shot. For the sake of answering I'll assume you want to turn one section of your basement into a theater "room". For that part, at 300 sq feet, I'd estimate $8,000 if you hire someone and around $3,000 if you do it yourself.

      Now, let's add in some fun stuff like a giant 110 inch screen, an HD projector and a banging sound system... AND some tiered seating (couches excluded)... Add another $6,000. Rough estimates of course - but that would get you pretty well setup with a sweet home theater system for your finished basement.

      Hope that helps - I'll look for my movie night premiere invite soon!


  56. Theresa says

    Hi Jason:
    We have a 1400sq foot basement that is carpeted and has a full bathroom with all electrical in place. The cement walls are painted white. To deem a basement as 'finished' do the walls have to be dry-walled or could they be left painted?
    Also, what estimate would you say for the drywall ceilings and/or drywall to the walls if needed to be considered 'finished'?
    Thanks for helping us all

    • says

      Hi Theresa -

      Wow, big basement! No, you don't need to drywall to call it finished, they can certainly be left painted and that's it. My best guess (for just the drywall) for a 1400 sq. foot basement (walls and ceilings) would be between $3,000 to $5,000.

      Here's the thing though, you'll need framing first before you can drywall. That could run another 4-5k. AND you'll need to re-work the electrical. Even though it already exists it will need to be moved to run through the new framing and prepped for the new drywall - again another 3-5k.

      Soooo... if I'm readying your question correctly - you're looking at a TOTAL cost of around 15k to rework and frame everything so you can have "real" walls. Please keep in mind that's a very rough guesstimate - a lot depends on your location and the current condition of your basement. Bottom line: it would not be an inexpensive job.

      Hopefully that helps, sorry if the news is a bit disappointing. IF you wanted to do the work yourself you could probably knock off 50% of that cost, perhaps more if you're really stringent about your purchasing.

      Good luck! - Jason

      • Theresa says

        Since you say our walls can be left painted, what inexpensive treatment can we do to get our basement to 'be finished' in regards to the ceiling? Our home value would go up considerably if we had a 'finished' basement. The walls are painted white, the carpet is down, only the ceiling isn't finished

        • says

          Three options - Paint the ceiling (Spray paint) usually white or a dark grey. Install drywall. Or install a drop-ceiling. I personally did drywall but in your case I'd go for the spray painted ceiling. Hope that helps! - Jason

  57. Madiha says

    Haha you have a good writing style so I'm looking forward to that newsletter.
    My question is:
    Can you come to Naperville, IL and just finish our basement for us? LOL (had to try)

    • says

      Hi Madiha - Yes, I'll be booking my flight to Naperville next week. Watch out Naperites, Jason is coming. Sorry, that's not true. For the next two months I'll be shuttle my kids around to various sports practices and games. Hopefully my site will guide you towards a finished basement. Thank's for the kind words and enjoy the newsletter. - Jason

  58. John says

    I have a 1,000 square foot basement that I would like to finish. The floor in the basement is approximately 2 feet off the ground with the crawl space below. Is there any way to remove the wood panels from off the crawl space, lower the floor, and pour concrete so that wood panels are not being used for the sub-floor? How much would it cost?

    • says

      Uhhhh John, you've stumped me here. I think I need a whole other website on digging out basement floors. Several people have asked about that and I just don't know what that would cost or what other complexities that would entail. Sorry man. Best of luck with it. - Jason

  59. jeff says

    Jason - great information! If you were to ask a builder to finish off a basement with "builder grade" framing, electrical, plumbing, finishing off the pre-stubbed bathroom - what would value that at for a 1,100 sq ft basement?

    • says

      Builder prices for basement's are usually very very good. I'd guess for 1,100 sq ft basement maybe 15k. Sometimes even as low as 10k. You can barely finish it yourself for that low of a price. If you have that option (around that price) I would take it. Hope that helps. Cheers - Jason

  60. Marc B says

    This is great information. The costs that you described can vary depending on geographical location too. We found living in a place where there's a lot of development/growth and therefore a lot of demand for contractors, you can almost double the price per square foot.

    We live in Calgary and the average price to finish a basement can run between $40 to 60K. Just roughing-in a bathroom and installing a sump pump, not including installation of fixtures, is looking to run about $10K (materials are $1-2K total; hourly rate per person worked out to be between $200/hr to $250/hr for a licensed professional).

    For us, we chose a mix of DYI and getting in professionals. For the rough-in for the basement, we chose to hire someone. Wiring, above ground pumbing, installation of fixtures, flooring, framing, drywalling, etc. we did ourselves. We're not done yet, but for our 720 sqr ft basement, we're looking at getting everything done for $25 to $30K total.

  61. Janice M. says

    Jason, we have an approx. 500 sq ft partly finished basement - it had woodish paneling, a drop ceiling, vinyl on concrete floors, 1/2 bath in the furnace/hot water heater/laundry room. this is under a 1969 built split entry house. Electrical is in. We removed the paneling in the rear of the room and the paneling between the laundry/furnace/bath and we can walk through it. We are going to be selling the house so we would like to put as little in as possible. The new windows are larger that the old ones, so the cut out from the old windows is still there. The walls have 1" wood frames under the paneling, but no insulation. The floor is cold so we think laminate floors would insulate a bit, but so would carpet. I don't know how we are going to finish the bath/furnace/hot water heater/laundry area. It is small but the 1/2 bath should be separate from the rest of the room. The washer/dryer actually were perpendicular to the laundry tub - it was built in by a dad with 3 boys who wanted to maximize the basement area for pool/ping pong/media. Obviously mom's needs were put on the back burner and the boys didn't mind peeing in the furnace room. Not a good seller though. We currently have the washer and dryer along the back wall parallel to the laundry tub, but have to walk through the wall studs to get to the laundry tub. We were going to put the laundry back to where it was and maximize the "man-cave" as before, but are not sure what is best. Could we get your advice and input? Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Janice - Well... that's quite a lot of info and questions there. My advice... Moms tend to make the buying decisions when it comes to homes. And... finishing your basement can add quite a bit of value to your home. So, I would tear everything except the studs and the electrical out and refinish your basement the way you yourself would use it.

      Fresh drywall, fresh carpet, fix the access to the laundry, etc. Basically - make it look nice again. You can do a complete overhaul for very little money if you're up for doing it yourself. And even if you aren't, you can still get a lot additional equity by revamping this critical space.

      I hope that helps. All the best - Jason

  62. Brent says

    I have been finishing my basement with the help of friends and family over the last year or so. We happen to be a very handy family, and we have purchased most of the materials from Home Depot. The finished part is roughly 1,200 square feet. 800 square feet is devoted to a one-bedroom rental apartment with its own kitchen and five-piece bathroom (jetted tub, shower, double vanity and toilet). The other 400 square feet are devoted to a media room. So far, it has cost me around $15k, but I hired out the drywall and drywall finishing. I anticipate spending another $5k to do the basic kitchen (10ft span of cabinets with white appliances).

    The breakdown is as follows:
    $2500 for plumbing lines to main line
    $2000 for framing
    $2000 for electrical (outlets, lighting, wiring and new panel)
    $1500 for drywall
    $1100 for drywall finishers
    $600 for drywall hangers
    $1000 for doors (7 interior and 1 exterior)
    $350 for vanity (used)
    $100 for jetted tub (used)
    $1800 for carpeting
    $500 for laminate hardwood
    $360 for 3 windows
    $100 for bulk contractor paint
    $200 for nails, screws, caulk, etc
    $500 for new tools (nail gun, sawzall, compressor)

    Hope that helps! It has been an amazingly fun and rewarding project. I hope it will add around $40k to the value of my house.

    • says

      Brent - Thanks for this info, very helpful! Considering you're doing a full on kitchen and fairly sophisticated bath setup - excellent price! - Jason

  63. Joseph says

    Jim, I have been coming off and on to your site for over a year and finally getting ready to take the plunge!
    I am not as brave as you are so am acting as a general contractor and outsourcing the work. I do have a question for you though. I live in St Louis and the cost of a licensed electrician/plumber here falls at an average of $65 per hour. Our unfinished basement has rough ins already in place so how many labour hours would you estimate it taking a plumber to install a standing shower, WC and sink and all the pipe connections that would need? I estimated the total work to be about a days worth (8 hours) therein resulting in about $500 worth of work. Would you agree or am I really underestimating this?

    • says

      Hi Joseph - I think you're about right with the eight hours estimate. Of course, it depends on the situation for your specific basement, but I think that's a close estimate. Good luck! - Jason

  64. says

    Jason, I'm looking to get a cost estimator for my next basement I do. I did a lot of work myself on my current home and costs seem to never stay under control. Can you help me out.

  65. Daniel says

    I received a quote today over the phone from the most reputable construction companies in Lexington, KY that was $50 sq/ft average (100K construction cost). He said that is a good estimate for quality materials. This seems extremely high based on the info on your site. Any advice you could provide would be very helpful!

    • says

      Daniel - My advice is... that is WAY over priced. Run, run away from that contractor. Get 2 more quotes. If all three are in the 100k range, please post back here - I want to know what the heck that are you using to finish your basement... gold bars??? - Jason

  66. Betty says

    I have an existing home that is on a crawl space. We have a floor that is in need of support. We were planning on going in and adding support under that area. But I am thinking instead of just fixing the sinking floor I would like to go in and dig out the crawl space and make it into a basement. When I searched 'what would it cost to put a basement under an existing house' your website was one that popped up. Your numbers here are for finishing an existing basement, correct? Can anyone direct me to a website that can give me info on what is involved in putting a basement under an existing home? The area is 480 sq ft approx, it would be a partial basement. I live in the Kansas City area. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Betty - Sorry to disappoint but I've yet to find such a site. Maybe that should be the next project for me as quite a few people have asked about that. - Jason

  67. Mike N. says

    Hi Jason,

    I am thinking of finishing my basement. I live in Lynn, MA and it is roughly 600sq feet in size. In order to save cost, I am only thinking of finishing about 450 - 500sq ft of the basement. I received one quote from a well known basement finishing company for about $28k for 500sq ft of space. I received another quote of about $24k for finishing 450 sq ft. In both estimates, the price includes materials and labor, permits, framing, electrical, walls (I am not using drywall, but removable panels), drop ceiling, lights, and flooring. It does not include paint and for the cheaper estimate, it does not include carpet leading down to the basement. I was quoted about $600-$800 extra for the carpert.

    The costs seem quite high for me. I was not expecting to pay $50 + sq/ft to finish my basement.

    I am getting a few more estimates, and then I will make a decision. How can I get a reasonable estimate to finish my 500 sq ft basement for less than $20k. I am not a handy guy so I don't plan a DIY. I'd rather hire someone who will do a good job. Is that too much to ask in MA? What are some of the questions I should be asking? Any advice will be helpful.

    What are your thoughts on this: drop ceiling or drywall ceiling?


    • Mike N. says

      I forgot to add that I am not adding a bathroom. I was quoted about $6.8k for a half bath and more than $13k for a 3/4 bath. BTW, my house was build 4 years ago, so it pretty new.

  68. John says

    I am looking to have a 1,700 sq ft basement (with full bath, gym, office and living room) plus a bluestone patio with a firepit, an outdoor shower, a 175 ft vinyl fence and a 16x10 shed completed. I have gotten two quotes. The first is for approximately $103,000 and the second quote is for a $15,000 flat fee for labor plus the cost of any materials we choose.
    The second option seems like the most obvious to choose but I must be missing something. What thoughts do you have? Thanks.

    • says

      Hi John. I can comment on the basement cost, but you're on your own for the patio and stuff. I'm basements only! For 1,700 square feet I'd say between 50k and 60k for the basement. My advice would be to bid those two projects out separately and if you're planning to have the same guy do both, that's okay, but do one then the other - just to ensure the quality is solid.

      Good luck! Sounds like you're going to have a sweet basement and outdoor setup.


  69. Speros says

    I need to finish my basement as family room/man cave with a half bath. Total area is about 450 sq. ft. Owens Corning quoted me a price of $40,000. That includes framing. their 'special padded insulated walls, flooring (vinyl that looks like wood), electrical. lighting dropped tile ceiling, and new stairwell treads. I fell I should laugh and throw them out. am I right? price seems beyond "high end"

    • says

      Are you f*ing me right now Speros??? $40,000 for 450 square feet. Absolutely ridiculous. If I was the King of Burundi I still wouldn't pay that amount to finish my basement. That's $88 a square foot - more than double what you should pay a contractor. Get some different quotes.

      Good luck!


      • Speros says

        Hey Jason
        I kid you not. These guys must take me for a fool. I liked the Burundi comment you made! I am already looking for a contractor who can do the job at a fair price. To you folks out there...DO NOT hire anyone representing Owens Corning basement refinishing! Total rip off.
        Thanks Jason

  70. Staci says

    My basement is half finished but has some spots I have no idea where to start and I'm noticing critters getting no matter how clean my house is or how many times I clean it a week! How can I patch holes with these blue and red hoses coming out and around also I have a ceiling in the basement that isn't finished and it looks like my tub wil fall through

  71. Venkat Adi says

    We live Birmingham AL, Got 1500 sq.ft. basement. Got quote for $68 k to finish with full bath and kitchen. Reasonable?

    • says

      Hi Venkat - That seems extremely high to me. For a "normal" basement finishing cost I'd say they should be closer to 40k. That should include framing, drywall, doors, full bathroom, carpet, etc. Especially for Birmingham, that seems high. I recommend getting some additional quotes. - Jason

  72. Bryan says

    i'm doing all the work myself 1280 sf basement for storage and a game room. i may put a bathroom down there too. just doing the stained concrete floors and walls stained also... duct work for heating from the outside stove 1 door no windows. cost? dig out $800 cinder block walls $1,500 cement $400 a mixer $300
    If i add the Bathroom just framing cost i own the plumbing and electrical
    all other tools i own. how long do you think this job will take and do i need to add any extra cost?

  73. Greg says

    Hi Jason

    I’ve spent this Friday evening looking at basement-y stuff, and I have to say, I’m so glad that I came across your great website! I’ve been reading comments for the last hour and I was wondering if I could get some advice.

    We are hoping to build a new ranch home. The basement will wind up being 600 unfinished and 1200 potentially finished. However, getting all of the basement goodies that I want is out of the question, given price constraints. A full finish isn’t going to happen now…but I would like to DIY in the coming years. I definitely want to set it up for a full finish in the future, even if 10 years from now.

    So, what is the most important thing that I need to have right now to set up for a future DIY finish? Where do you think I should draw the line that divides the needs from the wants? Since builders are cheaper, which of the following 11 items will cause the future Greg to be very pleased with past Greg?

    1. Full Framed/Insulated Basement
    2. Full Electrical Basement
    3. Pre Plumb Bathroom
    4. Full lighting
    5. Full Bathroom
    6. Full Basement Drywall only
    7. Pre Plumb Wet Bar
    8. Radiant Heat Basement
    9. Full Basement Trim and Doors
    10. Full Basement Taping, Mudding, Texturing, and Finishing.
    11. Full Wet Bar

    Also, do you have a positive opinion about geothermal? I’m in Iowa.

    Thanks, Jason. Best wishes.

    PS Oh, and I'm pro geothermal in just about all cases of new construction in cold weather climates.

    • says

      Yo, what up Greg! Glad you like the site, I love hearing from readers!

      Ok, here's my two cents.

      Level 1 happiness and highly recommended - Have the builder rough plumb for bathroom and wet bar.
      Level 2 happiness - add in the radiant floor heating - if they can do this in the poured concrete all the better. I say this is level 2 because it's most likely going to add quite a bit to the price - and it is possible to do later.
      Level 3 happiness - The above plus framing and insulation. If you have the full basement designed you can ask them to do the interior walls - otherwise just have them frame all the external walls and you framing your own internal stuff once your ready.
      Level 4 happiness - All of the above plus electrical and drywall and mudding and doors. At this point, they are basically doing it for you.

      Ok, I hope that helps a bit. Perhaps I need a video on this topic as there is a lot to consider. - Jason

      • Greg says

        Thanks for your response, Jason.

        I'll definitely pre-plumb for the bathroom and the wet bar. We'll also be getting geothermal for the house. In regards to radiant heating for the basement (which I assume would connect with the geothermal), what's the real benefit? Is it cost savings? Is it just the feel of warmth in the basement? Does it produce a more balanced heat in the basement? Does it help the main floor as well? I just don't know what the real benefits are.

        Thanks for your response, and your website. Best wishes.

  74. Steve says

    I am looking at 1000 sq ft finish, bathroom stubbed. We want a bedroom/office, living room with a small kitchenette . No sink, Walk out basement. What is a good figure to look at in Des Moines, Ia

  75. Patricia says

    Purchased anew home in 2015,with an unfinished basement,would like to get basement finished. Basement is approximately 1500 sq ft. Plumbing for bath ,insulation,some electrical done when purchased.Would like dry wall,ceiling,finish bathroom,sink ,shower,toilet,wall to separate storage with shelves,carpet,trim,paint. Received 2 estimates 45,000 without carpet & permit & 44,000 carpet & permits. Waiting for the 3rd estimate. I thought it was high. Being that the basics is already there. Just want it to be finished to look like the rest of the home,nothing fancy.What do you think?

    • Colleen Drew says

      I'm not a contractor Patricia but I would definitely go with someone with a permit, and license. I look at a lot of home and I know a realtor and for what you're after I don't think is super high but I could be wrong. I live in Pennsylvania also

  76. Colleen Drew says

    thanks for the advice. Ours is partially finished, I think we just really need drywall and flooring and trim. I will definitely look into this

  77. Patricia says

    Thanks Colleen, I didn't clarify it but they both are licensed. The one just stated he doesn't get the permit ,I would have to do it.kind of wish that I had it done when home was built now. Wish you the best with yours. Thanks Patricia

  78. John says

    I have a 4ft concert wall under my house. I need. 28 by 45 ft basement. Is it real costly to do on partial walls

  79. Ahmed says

    I'm looking to finish a basement that is approx 480 sq. I'm looking to do the following. Working with a contractor, what would be a fair value in central NJ area?
    - a large family room with in wall shelving for entertainment
    - decent size separate laundry room with extra storage area
    - Some in wall shelves in laundry room and a vanity replacing existing sloppy sink so no new plumbing work
    - a door to the laundry room from family room and a door to a unfinished boiler room
    - two window replacements
    - approx.12 recess lights
    - Some storage under stairs
    - floor either vinyl or carpet, not sure yet

    • says

      Hi Ahmed - Well... that's not a big basement in terms of square footage but you've got a lot going on in terms of the shelves and windows, etc. So let's see here... NJ, $40 a square foot, $19,200 plus a bit more for the windows so maybe $21,000 for a contractor to do it. That's a rough guess. I recommend getting 3 quotes to know for sure what range you should be in. Hope that helps. - Jason

      • Ahmed says

        Jason, thanks for the info. I received two quotes so far and they're approx 18K+ without flooring. One of the quote also include stairs replacements and floor leveling. I guess both sound reasonable per your estimates. Expecting to get the third quote tomorrow and we'll go from there.

        • Ahmed says

          Out of curiosity, what do you think it would roughly cost if I were to coordinate everything myself and hire separate contractors for each job instead of using a general contractor?

  80. Adam says

    Hi Jason,
    I am wanting to finish my 500 square foot basement sometime in the near future. The perimeter walls are already insulated, and the rest is unfinished. In the end I would like to include the following rooms in my basement:
    - Average size laundry room
    - Average size family room/home theatre
    - Small office room
    - 1/2 bathroom with only toilet and vanity.

    I live in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada). How much do you think this will cost me?

    • says

      Hi Adam - Or should I say "Aye Adam". Sorry, my cousin is from Toronto so I have to dig. Ok, so 500 sq ft basement. If you hire it out you're looking at around $30 per square foot, so roughly $15,000 to $20,000. If you go for it yourself you can probably do it for $7,500 to $10,000 depending on the finishes you choose. Good luck! - Jason

  81. Sherri Allen says

    Loved reading your tips. I am embarking on a DIY project in the basement apartment I have. I'd say right now I'm using 1/3 of the space of the total basement and have a open area layout to include a carpeted lvg rm, laminate bdrm/office and tiled bath with a closet under the steps. When I got here the ceiling was white sheets, lvg rm, bd rm/offce floor was painted concrete and steps coming down were original w/no risers. I've come quite a ways but I now want to step by step add a walk in closet, private bdrm, and craft room and convert the existing open space bedroom to a kitchen/dining/entertaining space. Ok TMI, sorry.
    My question is when do you put in the ceiling? I had a drop ceiling put in to replace the sheets and paid $2K for roughly 2400 sq ft .

    The remaining basement area is going to be storage only, should I put a ceiling in that area as well as frame the perimiter?

    • says

      Hi Sherri - You can put in the ceiling last if you want - not a big deal to wait on it. If it's a storage only area then I wouldn't spend the money on a ceiling. In fact I like to store longer things and wreaths by hanging them from the joists. Not sure why we have so many freakin' wreaths in my house but we do :-) - Jason

  82. karen dewillers says

    I have a half bath in my basement, Will need and egress window, shower (simple is fine). There is a sump pump, washer and dryer, concrete floor. Bad paneling efforts...they have to go. I want a tiny type apartment in the basement of my home, and will seal the stairs between upper house and basement home for myself. I will need a stove, sink and refrigerator....but have abut 500 square feet if I take some space from the garage. What expense should I be expecting?

    • says

      Hi Karen - You're certainly putting a lot of stuff into a small space (500 sq ft). Your egress window may be the most expensive component. My very rough estimate for this type of basement project is $15,000. That's if you do a majority of the work yourself. Without the egress window and plumbing work required for your kitchen you could drop that price down below 10k. Good luck! - Jason

  83. MJ says

    Hey Jason,
    Very nice to see you answer most of the email. Nice.
    I have a 1500 sft basement and I want to finish about 1200 of it.
    $$$ worried!
    Couple of questions: I want to “sound proof” if I can. Special material on the ceiling? Or…
    2nd: Is it realistic to have a steam room in the bath room?
    Also, I want a “bedroom sized” workout room.
    Can I get this all for under $35, 000 ??

    • says

      Hi MJ, yes you can do a lot with 35k. Steam room is not that hard. For sound proofing there are several options but the most important thing is to use resilient channels on your joists to attach your ceiling drywall. Good luck! - Jason

  84. perciano says

    Hi Jason
    I am about finishing y basement on a brand new home in Northern Virginia. it is about almost 1000 sqft and has bathroom roughing. all I want is framing, 2 rooms, full bath with fan, open kitchen with granite top, 12 recessed lighting and kitchen exhaust fan, using Standard and decent material.
    Would you please tell what would cost me. with and without painting (Flooring will be done by my buddy who is in floor covering business)
    Thanks a 1000,000

    • says

      I can tell you my guesstimated cost - this excludes flooring and painting. If a contractor does all the work - between 40k and 50k. If you do most of the work (except drywall) as prescribed by this website - between 17 and 25k. I would estimate 6k to 7k for flooring and a around 2k for painting. Hope that helps - Jason

  85. jessica says

    we have about 500 sq feet. I'm fine with spraying the exposed ceiling. I'm even fine with paneling/bead board. I do want some sort of flooring (CHEAP tho.) We already have a nice bathroom down there. I do want nicer stairs. Can this be done with $2500? I live in MO.

    • jessica says

      *We would do all painting and finishing. basically need someone to frame (?) and lay the flooring and do the stairs.

  86. Peter says

    Jason- On quite a few of your pages I see references to your newsletter and would like to sign up, but I can't seem to find the URL to actually do this. Could you provide the link to sign up? Thanks!

    • says

      The newsletter is also the "cost estimator" download signup at the bottom of most of the pages - sorry - I need a better title. I've added your email to the list! - Jason

  87. Susan says

    Hi there, when you give the estimate of approximately $35/sq ft. Does that include all finished to complete the basement or just the labor?
    Thank you

    • says

      Hi Susan - In my example that includes materials. That amount can vary by area and seasonality - the cost of labor and materials swings up and down through the years. Right now... in most parts of the country - it's on the UP side. (more expensive) Hope that helped. - Jason

  88. Emily says

    My basement is just under 900 sq feet, so fairly small, and it has studs up with drywall sheets (not finished) and that is it! My ceiling is completely unfinished too, just beams with insulation showing. I am wanting to finish the drywall, ceiling, and update the pre-existing bathroom (no shower), do you have any idea how much that might run me? The flooring I plan on just doing myself. I am located in KY so labor costs shouldn't cost me an arm and a leg!

  89. Rod says

    I demolished my $1500 square foot basement down to the blocks after a small flood. Fixed the leak in the foundation and have been "planning" on finishing it for 3 years now.

    So my wife and kids have to thank you, because your site is the catalyst to my triumph and glory. Now please a kind soul and sign me up for you newsletter so I can hear more about this "Big Dog"

  90. bruce chapman says

    What do you do about moisture between drywall and concrete outer walls? Do you recommend breathable wall systems? I'm running a dehumidifier in our basement and have had contractors discuss either sealing outer walls with some rubber goop that might last 5-10 years, using plastic sheets between outer wall and wood framing, or of course breathable walls like Owens Corning system.

    Can you sign me up or let me know how to sign up for the newsletter to hear this big dog story? Do I just look for contractors at Home Depot and ask if I can put my stuff in their cart for a small fee? :)

  91. Bob Barker says

    I just started framing my basement last week, I think you're going to be hearing a lot from me! Please sign me up for the Newsletter so I can get this project off on the right foot.

  92. tom says

    Just starting on this journey and came across your website. Had a guy out yesterday to bid on the job, and gave a ballpark estimate of $40K for what will end up being a 1,200 sqft basement w/ studio kitchen, full bath and bedroom! I'm leaning more and more to DIY since I have the tools. Can you sign me up for the newsletter?

  93. Andrew says

    Looking to finish 350 sq feet of my basement. All framed and insulated besides the 12 feet where I want a wall to separate finished and unfinished. Just want a room, no bathroom and a closet to hide sump pump. How much should I expect to pay? Thank you!

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