In 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Doors||2,000||14.1%|
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.
“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 have a 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.
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