How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement?

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated January 11, 2022
Basement living room with wet bar
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock

The average cost to finish a basement is around $18,400 for a 400- to 1,500-square-foot space

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When you’re looking for more space to play foosball, catch a game, or just kick back, the answer is sometimes right beneath your feet. Your basement is an underground opportunity for a major transformation, but how much does it cost to finish a basement? Most basement finishing projects range between $2,800 and $34,500. Looking at your materials, labor, permit expenses, and any extras like appliances or decor, will help you estimate your total cost.

What is the Average Cost per Square Foot to Finish a Basement?

The average cost to finish a basement is around $7 to $23 per square foot, including labor and materials. If you’ve got unique plans for the space, or if you’re eyeing higher-end materials, these could impact your finished basement cost.

Square FootageCost
500 square feet$3,500 – $11,500
700 square feet$4,900 – $16,100
850 square feet$5,950 – $19,550
1,000 square feet$7,000 – $23,000
1,500 square feet$10,500 – $34,500

How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement Near You?

The average finished basement cost is $18,400, but costs can vary by location. For example, a New Yorker might pay around $60,000 to $100,000 to finish a basement in a brownstone, while someone in Denver could pay only $28,500 to $65,700 for the same project. Labor, materials, and cost of living are all key factors here.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement Yourself?

DIY-ing your basement can save money on your final basement cost, but it’s quite the task to take on by yourself. Finishing a basement requires the right tools, know-how, permits, and usually at least some level of professional assistance.

Even if you’re a seasoned DIY-er, there are parts of this project that you will have to leave to the pros. If you’re installing a sink or a wet bar, for example, then you’ll need to find a local plumber to do this for you. Plus, the wiring for your entertainment system or home office will likely require you to hire an electrician.

Tools and Materials

You’ll need about $400 worth of tools unless you’ve already got some stashed away in your workbench. These tools range in cost from $5 to $80 and include:

Circular saw$50
Drill bit set$30
Caulk gun$5
Chalk line$7
Hammer drill$70
Step ladder$55
Tape measure$7
Utility knife$10
Dust mask$8
Hearing protection$14
Safety glasses$7

Once your tool belt is strapped up and ready to go, you’ll still need building materials. These will increase your finished basement cost based on the size of the space. 

Here’s a list of materials you’ll need for a basic remodel:

  • Screws

  • Nails

  • Plywood

  • Concrete screws

  • Construction adhesive

  • Lumber

  • Foam adhesive

  • Fiberglass insulation

  • Extruded polystyrene insulation

Even with all the right materials and tools, you’ll still need to handle your remodel carefully. You don’t want to deal with unlevel surfaces, and you certainly won’t want to subconsciously eyeball a crooked piece of trim every time you try to watch TV. Your best bet is to find a basement finishing contractor in your area.

Basement Finishing Kits

A basement finishing kit, also known as a basement finishing system, is a cheaper and easier-to-install alternative to insulated drywall and wood. These go for around $30,000 and include moisture-resistant panels for the wall and ceiling, as well as a comfortable floor surface. If you just want the wall panels, you might only pay about $4.75 per square foot.

DIY vs. Hiring a Contractor

A local basement finishing contractor usually handles the hiring and coordination of any electrical or plumbing work you need. They charge around 20% of your total basement finishing cost for their services. If you’re up for it, you can find your own plumber and/or electrician and supervise the job yourself to save a little cash. You’ll need to do a cost-benefit analysis though, as this could be more of a headache than it’s worth.

Building Permits

Your cost to finish a basement includes securing a building permit for about $1,200 to $2,000. A contractor would typically handle permits for you, but it’s up to you when you’re on your own. Prices vary based on location and cost of living.

Basement Finishing Cost Breakdown

Basement entertaining space with pool table and bar
Photo: PC Photography / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Investing in the cost to finish your basement could get you a return of up to 75% when the time comes to move. After all, who doesn’t want a finished basement that doubles as an extra bedroom or workout studio? It’ll look better to buyers than the dark spider cave that came before it, no doubt.

With that said, you’re still fronting the price to finish your basement before you see any ROI. Below are the main variables that impact your basement finishing cost.

Sump Pump Install

A sump pump will cost around $575 to install. This system is crucial for, you guessed it, pumping out large volumes of water that might accumulate from rain, a bad plumbing day, or any other event that could lead to flooding.


To avoid soggy stuffed animals and wet carpet, waterproofing your basement will cost an additional $4,400 on average or about $5 to $10 per square foot. Your final basement waterproofing cost depends on the method you use and the extent of work required. For the best results, find a basement waterproofing contractor near you

Building Permit

Acquiring the necessary building permits will make up about $1,200 to $2,000 of your total cost to finish a basement. A contractor will usually include this in your service package, but if you’re handling the building yourself, be sure to factor it into your budget.


On its own, framing your basement will run an average of $1,800, or about $7 to $16 per linear foot. This number doesn’t factor in the cost to drywall the basement or add insulation.


Your best picks for basement insulation are foam products, as these provide a barrier that stops mold from infiltrating your pad. Spray foam insulation costs around $2,140 to cover a 1,000-square-foot basement (not including labor). Rigid foam board for the same-size space will cost about $700 to $840 for two-inch thick sheets. While foam board costs less, it is only suitable for installation before framing or on flat concrete or block walls.


The cost to drywall your basement typically goes for approximately $1,750, or about $2 per square foot. If you’re installing it yourself, drywall panels usually cost $12 to $20 apiece.


Building and drywalling the ceiling makes up about $1,610 of your cost to finish the basement. If you like the industrial look of exposed ductwork, you might consider having a pro spray paint it for about $300 to $500, or you can rent a sprayer for around $100 per day.

Alternatively, you can install a drop ceiling to cover the pipes and ductwork for around $2 to $6 per square foot. Tongue and groove wood paneling is another option for about $1 to $3 per square foot. This paneling will give your basement a modern look, plus it’s lightweight and easy to install.

Increasing basement headroom is also an option, but this can get pricey and complicated, as it usually requires raising your home’s foundation.


Flooring will usually make up about $1,500 to $4,500 of your basement cost, with about 500 square feet of flooring totaling $3,000. Hardwood floors can cost up to $22 per square foot, whereas carpet and laminate might only be around $3 to $11 per square foot.


A fresh paint job for your new drywall will cost around $1,800. If you’re the one holding the roller, paint usually costs about $15 to $40 per gallon, with most colors costing about $30 per gallon.


You’ll undoubtedly need some power for your pinball machine, computer, and other electronics in your newly finished basement. At the very least, you’ll need good lighting to make the space more inviting. Together, this usually makes up around $5,305 of your basement cost.

Here’s what the breakdown of these expenses looks like:

  • Lighting: $2,880

  • Electrical: $1,325

  • Outlets: $1,100

How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement by Type?

Refinished basement with modern sitting area
Photo: Anatoli Igolkin / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Your final basement finishing cost relies on your starting point. In some cases, you might not even have an unfinished basement to work with, so you’ll have to factor in the cost to build one. On the other hand, you might already have a built or semi-built space that just needs remodeling.

Cost to Build an Unfinished Basement

Building an unfinished basement can cost $4,000 to $37,500. A full basement build, foundation included, might run about $30 to $100 per square foot.

Cost to Remodel vs. Finish a Basement

Remodeling a finished basement costs an average of $20,200, with most projects ranging from $4,200 to $45,000. Your final price depends on how many rooms you’re finishing and what you’ll add to the space. Adding a laundry room or kitchenette will drive up your costs.


How much does it cost to finish a basement bathroom?

If you’re adding a basement bathroom, your total price to finish the space could jump to around $49,000. Your standard 30- to 50 square-foot build will usually be around $15,000

If you’re splurging on a 100-square-foot luxury install with spa-like features, costs could reach upwards of $90,000. Existing features like a drain might bring down your final price tag.

How much does it cost to turn a basement into an apartment?

Whether it’s for your family or for potentially renting out, a basement apartment is a useful feature that could cost close to $63,000. This total includes framing and finishing each room. A custom build with pricier features like hardwood flooring and stone countertops could run you up to $122,500, but this might pay off if you’re leasing out the space. Additional egress windows might also increase your finished basement cost.

A studio apartment typically costs around $61,000, including a kitchenette, bathroom, and laundry area. A basement walk-up entrance with high-end appliances, countertops, and cabinetry could drive costs well past $110,000.

How much does it cost to furnish a basement?

Furnishing your basement with all-new pieces usually costs at least $2,050, but can get much higher if you’ve got big plans for the space. 

Here are a few additions to consider with your total basement finishing cost:

Basement AdditionPrice
Coffee table$170
Side table$110
Pool table$2,800
Foosball table$650
In-unit laundry room$3,875*
Bar cabinet$765
Bar stool$100

*Existing washer/dryer hookups will reduce your cost while creating a dedicated room will increase it.

Again, your final cost to finish a basement relies on your creative vision. If you’re working with a budget, breaking it down and prioritizing your most-wanted features will help you get more for your money. You can also save big by purchasing items secondhand.

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