Finish Basement

Ideas, costs, tips and plans - the information you need for a successful Basement Finishing project

March 2015

Homeowners have many important questions about their Basement Finishing Project. How much will it cost? How long will it take? What problem areas do I need to watch out for? Can I recover my Basement Finishing investment when I sell? Can I do some of the work myself? What can I do to make sure that the work is done right?

Costs, materials and best practices for the example Basement Finishing project will help you answer these questions. Use this information to develop a budget, bid requirements, hiring contracts and a project plan.

Basement Finishing - Project Overview

The approximate costs and value of a typical Basement Finishing project are summarized below. Use higher estimates for larger metropolitan areas and the lower estimates where home prices are below the national average. Adjust costs for substitutions or refinements in the last section. For size differences of up to 25%, scale total costs in direct proportion to the size of your project. Use the adjusted costs as a basis for setting a material budget and for comparing contractor bids (if you choose to have a professional perform the work).

Project descriptionConvert unfinished basement into living space. Waterproof and insulate walls. Update flooring, electric circuits and lighting. Use above average grade of materials, fabrication and installation quality.
Project size600 square feet
Material and labor cost$8,442 - $9,849
Material cost$4,905 - $5,723
Do-it-yourself assessmentThe typical Basement Finishing project involves tasks that are best performed by experienced professionals. Good quality Basement Finishing requires considerable experience, skill and attention to detail. Do it yourself mistakes are noticeable, may be difficulty to remedy and may actually reduce the market value of the project and your home.
First year Return on Investment - ROIResults vary widely and can be affected by the range of home prices in your neighborhood, the overall condition of your home and sensible design choices. A high quality Basement Finishing project in an appropriate neighborhood can return 93% or more of its initial cost.
First year Return on Investment - ROIReturns vary widely and are affected by the range of home prices in your neighborhood, the overall condition of your home and sensible design choices. A high quality Basement Finishing project in an appropriate neighborhood can return as much as 77% - 91% of its initial cost.
Green ratingBasement Finishing projects can incorporate renewable or sustainable resources and environmentally friendly materials.

Basement Finishing - Project Plan and Details

The following list includes major work tasks commonly performed during Basement Finishing. Use this list to understand the timing and sequence of different steps in the Basement Finishing project. Click any Task name for a complete written specifications, FAQs and quality checklist for the task - this essential information will help you control Basement Finishing project cost and quality.

Do you expect to spend more than $250 on your Basement Finishing project? If so, it is important create and manage a detailed plan for all project activities.

TaskService ProviderTimeDifficultyBasic Cost Range
Develop Basement IdeasInterior Designer5 to 15 d$355 - $594
Complete Basement DesignArchitect5 to 15 d$1,093 - $1,826
Specify MaterialsInterior Designer2 to 15 d$178 - $297
Remove FlooringDemolition Laborer1 d$0.92 - $1.53 per square foot
Remove Construction DebrisGarbage and Rubbish Hauler1 d$10.36 - $17.30 per cubic yard
Frame Basement WallsCarpenter1 to 2 d$2.19 - $3.83 per square foot
Prepare Basement FlooringFlooring Contractor1 d$6.10 - $10.46 per square foot
Install Appliance CircuitElectrician1 to 2 dLevel 4 - Pros Only$308 - $525
Insulate Basement WallsInsulation Contractor1 dLevel 2 - Challenging$2.65 - $4.75 per square foot
Insulate Basement CeilingInsulation Contractor1 dLevel 2 - Challenging$1.34 - $2.30 per square foot
Install SheetrockDrywall and Plaster Contractor1 to 2 dLevel 2 - Challenging$1.28 - $2.24 per square foot
Skim CoatDrywall Contractor1 to 2 d$0.87 - $1.52 per square foot
Install Interior DoorFinish Carpenter1 dLevel 3 - Complex, Difficult$149 - $258 per door
Install Door JambFinish Carpenter1 dLevel 2 - Challenging$67 - $112 per door
Install Base MoldingFinish Carpenter1 to 2 dLevel 1 - Basic$3.29 - $5.73 per linear foot
Install Basement WindowFinish Carpenter1 d$424 - $761
Paint RoomsPainting Contractor1 to 3 dLevel 2 - Challenging$3.83 - $6.53 per square foot
Install Linoleum FlooringFlooring Contractor1 dLevel 2 - Challenging$2.89 - $5.29 per square foot
Install Ceiling LightingElectrician1 dLevel 2 - Challenging$67 - $120
Install Electric Baseboard HeaterElectrician1 dLevel 3 - Complex, Difficult$161 - $280

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Basement Finishing - Proven Ideas and Project Tips

Review these tips, design suggestions, options and lessons learned before finalizing your Basement Finishing project plan.

  • To maximize return on the Basement Finishing project, limit cost to no more than 5% of home's total, post project value
  • For best home resale value, follow a consistent design and decorating theme throughout the home
  • To keep Basement Finishing costs low, do not move walls or relocate plumbing fixtures or electrical boxes
  • Perform major Basement Finishing work with permits to help protect value at resale time
  • For best resale value, select components, appliances, finishes and fixtures of comparable quality
  • Understand how your project will change property taxes (assessed value) and home insurance - before the project begins

Basement Finishing Project Guide

Project Plan: Basement Finishing

Do you expect to spend more than $250 on your Basement Finishing project? If so, it is important create and manage a detailed plan for all project activities.

This FREE homewyse project guide helps you organize Basement Finishing project activities, effectively manage milestones and costs - and get quality work at a fair price.


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