How To Finish Your Basement And Why It’s Worth The Investment

Emma TomsichOctober 07, 2019

When you’re in your basement, what do you see? Is it a place that fills you with joy, or does it look a bit more like the set of a horror film? If the walls and floors are made of concrete, the pipes are exposed and the air is damp and musty, it may be time for you to start thinking about finishing your basement.

Finishing the basement is often at the bottom of the priorities list for homeowner because it’s used for storage space for unused furniture, seasonal clothes, decorations and sentimental knickknacks. However, your basement can be so much more than an oversized storage unit.

Transforming the dingy underbelly of your home into a livable space may sound like a drain on your time and money, but if done correctly, finishing your basement can add value and extra living space to your home.

How Much Value Does Finishing A Basement Add? 

A finished basement can significantly increase the value of a home. Which means this isn’t just a home improvement project – it’s an investment!

For most American homeowners, a finished basement can have a return on investment as high as 75%. That means if you spend $5,000 on the renovations, you could see as much as a $3,750 increase in your property value. 

Additionally, if your neighbors have a finished basement but yours is partially finished, it might be worth finishing the entire basement to stay competitive in your market.

Increasing a home’s value can also be useful for you and your bank account. By increasing the value of your home, you put yourself in a better position when using the equity for a cash-out refinance.

Aside from monetary value, think about what you and your family could do with that extra space!

By clearing out boxes, waterproofing the space, insulating the walls, installing drywall and adding water-resistant or easy-to-remove flooring, you can start to turn your unfinished basement into an area your family and guests will want to spend time in.

Basement space has the benefit of being away from the rest of your living area, which means that whatever you put there doesn’t have to be seen or heard by everyone else in your home. A finished basement will also provide space for a growing family and accommodations for house guests, and will contribute to added comfort and functionality for the homeowner.

Depending on your wants and needs, you can renovate your unfinished basement and turn it into whatever you want. From a home theater to a basement bar, the possibilities are endless!


What Does It Cost To Finish A Basement? 

When you’re considering finishing your basement, cost is always a concern. You want the quality of your remodel to be good enough that it adds value to your home while still being affordable enough to provide you with a decent return on your investment.

The costs can vary greatly depending on the square footage of your basement, the extent of your project, the quality of your finishes and even the location of your home.

On average, it will cost $30 – $50 per square foot to finish a basement. If you’re looking to finish a basement that’s 600 square feet, you can expect to pay around $18,000 – $30,000 to complete the entire remodeling project.

Typically, the price of a basement remodel will depend on the market where the home is located. The project will be more expensive if walls need to be added for bedrooms or if there are plumbing needs. While more detailed and expensive finishes will cost more, they will also give a greater return on the home.

On the other hand, a basement remodeling project will be cheaper if the space is already open and prepped for work, or if you do the work yourself. If you’re interested in completing this project by yourself, read on to learn everything you need to know before beginning your own basement remodeling project.

How Long Does It Take To Finish A Basement Yourself? 

Depending on the scope of your DIY remodeling project, it could take anywhere from 1 to 2 months. Of course, this amount of time depends on the size of your basement, availability of materials and how much help you receive. 

Be mindful that the timeline for a basement remodeling project can vary significantly depending on a number of factors. Follow the below steps from start to finish when planning to finish your basement.

1. Create Your Floor Plan 

Before getting to work, you should first research finished basement ideas and layout options and decide how much you want to spend on the renovation. If you have each aspect of the basement remodeling project planned out, you will be able to cut your work time in half and prevent any mishaps from slowing you down along the way.

It’s also important that you submit your plans and get building permits before starting construction. Be sure to dedicate enough time to the planning process, and don’t rush through it. Permit applications can take anywhere from 1 – 28 days, and are essential to the remodeling process, so don’t skip this step. Failure to get a permit can cost you a lot of time and money. Permits will protect your home and ensure your renovation complies with safety guidelines and building codes.

2. Prep The Area

After your permit has been obtained, the next step is to make sure that your basement is ready to be finished. The key to prepping your basement area for a remodel is controlling the moisture. It’s critical that you waterproof your concrete floor in preparation for laying down the floor joists and subfloor. Another way you can cut down on moisture and keep your basement waterproof is by investing in a dehumidifier. As you start to prep your basement for remodeling, expect to spend around three to five days on this part of the process.

3. Purchase Building Materials 

Now that your basement area is prepped, you can start purchasing building materials. As you start thinking about what materials you will need, consider gathering these most commonly used items for different aspects of the basement:

  • Basement flooring: Decide what type of flooring you’ll want in your basement. Consider your options, which include luxury vinyl wood planks, tile, carpeting or hardwood.

  • Basement ceiling: Choose between whether you want your basement ceiling to be made from thin wood paneling or painted rafters.

  • Basement walls: When it comes to your basement walls, you can choose between having drywall, wood paneling or insulated fabric panels.

Prepare for it to take about three to four days to get some of the materials mentioned above. When you begin shopping for these materials, keep in mind that some supplies can be easily found at a home improvement store, but other materials may need to be ordered or custom made. In this case, it might take you longer get what you need, so be sure to do your research and plan accordingly.

4. Start Framing Walls And Ceiling 

Once you’ve purchased your materials, you can start framing the walls and ceiling of your basement. Before you frame the entire basement, be mindful about your ceiling joists, sump pump and anything else that might stick out or require additional attention. Make necessary changes to accommodate these needs. Plan to frame your entire basement from the walls to the ceiling in three to five days.

5. Build In Utilities 

We advise you to hire a professional to add in the necessary electrical and plumbing systems into your basement. You may also need to install extra ductwork for added ventilation.

Electrical and plumbing will take around 3 – 5 days to install. Leave this to the professionals. Be proactive by hiring a contractor, HVAC technician, electrician or plumber to assist with your basement remodel. This can save you plenty of time and stress!

6. Finish Walls And Ceiling 

Now that your utilities are built in, you can finish your basement’s walls and ceiling which you already have framed. When insulating your basement’s walls and ceiling, we recommend that you use some form of non-fiberglass insulation like polystyrene or foam insulation. Prepare for it to take about 5 – 7 days to finish this step.

7. Install Flooring 

After your walls and ceiling are finished, it will be time to install flooring. As you install the flooring, make sure to add a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier will protect your basement from experiencing moisture problems which can cause mold and mildew if flooring is incorrectly installed.  Flooring will generally take about 2 – 3 days to install, but can also vary depending on the square footage of your basement.

8. Add Final Touches  

Now that the bones of your basement are solidified, here comes the fun part! Start adding final touches to finish up your basement remodeling project. Here’s a list of final touches for you to complete:

  • Adding trim or crown molding  

  • Caulking gaps around egress windows or door frames 

  • Sanding, priming and painting walls 

As a final step, start finding furniture, rugs and decor for your new living area to really add a personal touch and bring the space to life! Once the space is ready for the next level, get creative with ways to transform your finished basement.

The Bottom Line

As you know by now, there are many benefits to finishing your basement. From having extra living space to increasing your home’s property value, finishing your basement can open new possibilities for your home and your family. If you’re ready to get started on this DIY project, start by brainstorming the basement of your dreams and sketching out a floor plan. If you commit to undertaking this project, you can even use a refinance to fund the remodeling project. Learn more about this option by reading about cash-out refinances.

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Emma Tomsich

Emma Tomsich is a student at Marquette University studying Corporate Communications, Marketing and Public Relations. She has a passion for writing, and hopes to one day own her own business. In her free time, Emma likes to travel, shop, run and drink coffee.