How Much Does it Cost to Finish a Basement?

by Joanna Stewart

Sun, Nov 25, 2018

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finished basement game room

One of my friends just finished remodeling her basement. When I went to her house to see how it turned out, I was blown away at how great it looked.

She did it all on her own, and didn’t even hire a general contractor.

I could tell how proud she was of her hard work, but when I asked her how much is cost, she was embarrassed to tell me.

Just like other homeowners I’ve met and worked with, finishing a basement is a much larger project than it looks at first glance. It seems easy enough to throw up some drywall and lay down carpet, but there’s much more to it than just that.

So, if you want to know exactly how much is costs to finish a basement, you’re in luck. In this short guide I’m going to walk you through some of the basic costs involved with basement remodeling.

Researching project costs online can be frustrating and sometimes scary. When designers and contractors talk about remodeling costs, they’ll usually give you one of two figures.

Either cost per square foot or overall cost.

When you’re in the planning stage of a project neither of these are particularly helpful. The best way to get a more accurate answer is to provide more detail.

Begin with the End in Mind

If you want to finish your basement and want to estimate your costs, you will have to make some big decisions right from the start. More specifically, what do you want your basement to look like when it’s finished?

With these answers in mind you can give your contractor a better idea of what’s involved. Do you want a home theater system? A new bathroom, wet bar or even another kitchen?

Write these down or even create a few basic sketches to get your ideas out.

What’s involved in the process of finishing a basement? Here are the basics:

Don’t forget about these:

So, now that we know what’s included in a basement remodel we can finally talk about how much it’s going to cost.

A simple makeover could cost you about $20 per square foot. Or a complete overhaul and build-out could run about $55 per square foot.

Doing basic math, that means it would cost $20,000 to $55,000 to finish a 1,000 square foot basement. Of course, your mileage may vary.

As I briefly mentioned above, the biggest variable costs are those that involve plumbing and high-quality finishes. If you plan to add a bathroom or wet bar, expect your remodel to come out on the high side of my cost estimate.

You may also see your costs rise if you hire a general contractor and subcontractors to finish the work for you. While you can do most of the grunt work yourself, you’ll still need to hire a qualified electrician and potentially a plumber, too.

With this information in hand, your contractor, designer or home improvement buddy will be better equipped to tell you how much your new basement is going to cost.


Talking about expenses is one thing, but the most important part of the process is setting a budget. As you can see, basement remodeling is expensive. Sometimes, even very expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.

Start by setting a budget and working your way backwards. I think it’s important to work within your limits and always leave yourself wiggle room in the budget. Preferably, 20 percent.

There will always be surprises in every remodeling project. So, be prepared.


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