What is the Cost of a Basement?

cost of a basementIn 2013 almost 90,000 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. 

  Cost Percentage
Framing 1,000 7.0%
Electrical 1,500 10.5%
Audio/Visual 300 2.1%
Bathroom 2,500 17.6%
Flooring 1,500 10.5%
Drywall 2,650 18.6%
Trim and Doors 2,000 14.1%
Paint 1,000 7.0%

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.
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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.

“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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Comments

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  1. thanks.

    • 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

  2. Jim Seabolt says:

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

    • 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.

      Jason

      • 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!

        • 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

          • 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?

  3. Thx

  4. Jason,

    My subscribe button isn’t working, can you add me?

    Thanks!

  5. Thanku, this helps alot!!!

  6. We just had our basement finished through Owens Corning basements and it cost about $22K.

    • 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

  7. 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,
    Ashley

  8. We are planning on adding on to our home, possibly something like a 20×30 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

      • 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.

        -Jason

  9. 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?

    • 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

  10. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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

  11. 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

    • 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

  12. 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?

    • 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!

      Jason

      • 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

        • 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.

          • 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

  13. 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.
    Thanks.

  14. 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!

    • 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!

      Jason

  15. 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?

    • 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

  16. Hi,
    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.

    • Haha! Typo on the phone 1,100 square foot basement. Sorry about that

      • 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

  17. 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.

    Cheers,

    David

  18. 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?

    • 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

  19. 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.

    • 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

  20. 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

    • 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

  21. 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?

  22. 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.

    Thanks!

    • 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

  23. 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.

    • 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

  24. 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!

    • 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.

  25. 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?

  26. Jason,

    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??

  27. Jason,

    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?

    • 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

  28. 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?

    • 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.

      Jason

      • Depending on lay of the land you might want to check out a berm house with basement

        • 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.

  29. 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?

  30. Unlike the professional grade application that costs 1000s of dollars, Homestyler is
    free. Now, you have several selections. If this house can be a little or even a huge
    bedroom it oesnt matter.

  31. 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.

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

    • 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.

      Jason

  33. 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.

  34. 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!

  35. 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?

  36. 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

  37. 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!

  38. Sri Padu says:

    Hi

    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.

    • 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

  39. 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,

    • 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.

      Jason

  40. 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?

  41. 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

  42. 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!

    • 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.

      Jason

  43. 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

    • Tough to say Nicole. Sounds like you have a very specific situation – call a few companies up and have them give you a quote. – Jason

  44. 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?
    Thanks

    • 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!

      Jason

  45. Now that you finished your basement there is one more item on your list, if you are looking at a ugly metal window well. A great way to hide those window wells are using Biggies Window Well Scenes, an inexpensive way to finalize your basement.

    Go to http://www.getBiggies.com

  46. 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.

  47. 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?

  48. 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?

    • 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

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