How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement?

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated October 13, 2022
Basement living room with wet bar
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock

The average cost to finish a basement is around $18,400

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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 cost $18,400 on average, with a 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.

Low CostAverageHigh Cost
$2,800$18,400$34,500

Basement Finishing Cost Breakdown

The cost to finish a basement depends on a number of factors. Larger basements will add more precious square footage to your home, but that also means more money spent on materials and labor to cover the bigger space.

Size of Basement

Basement finishing costs about $7 to $23 per square foot, so the larger the space, the more you’ll spend to turn it into a cozy den or welcoming guest suite. A smaller, 500-square-foot basement will cost about $3,500 to $11,500 total, while a large, 1,500-square-foot basement will cost $10,500 to $34,500 to finish.

Labor

Professional labor makes up 10% to 25% (usually around 20%) of the project’s total cost, but general contractors will typically include their fees in the project quote rather than charging hourly. Finishing a basement is a big job and takes several weeks, with most basement finishing projects taking around 45 days. You’ll need to work with several different pros, from general contractors to oversee the project to electricians to handle wiring for your recessed lights and mini-fridges.

Materials

Materials cost about $5.25 to $21 per square foot for a finished basement. Although you can save money by opting for builder-grade materials, you may want to invest in higher-quality options as much as possible. Basements, even when finished, can be vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and high moisture levels. If you want the space to last a long time, invest in better materials wherever you can.

Building Permits

Acquiring the necessary building permits will make up about $1,200 to $2,000 of your total cost to finish a basement. Some municipalities will charge permit fees of 1% to 2% of your basement remodel project. 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.

Electrical

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 finished basement cost.

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

ProjectCost
New Lighting$2,880
New Electrical Wiring$4,000
New Outlets$1,100

Plumbing

Hiring a plumber costs about $45 to $200 per hour. Whether you plan to add a bathroom or kitchen or just need someone to inspect the existing plumbing, this is an important cost to keep in mind if you want to turn your basement into a livable space and avoid any costly water damage down the line.

Framing

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.

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.

Drywall

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.

Ceiling

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.

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 Build a Half-Finished Basement

A half-finished basement costs $7 to $23 per square foot, but the total project cost will be lower compared to a fully finished basement since the amount of space being renovated is smaller. This may involve creating one small movie den or laundry room in the basement rather than finishing the entire basement.

Cost to Remodel a Basement 

Remodeling a finished basement costs an average of $20,000, 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.

Additional Costs to Consider

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.

Waterproofing

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.

Flooring

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.

Paint

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.

Windows

Because they are mostly underground, basements typically have egress windows. Egress windows cost about $200 to $950 per window for the materials and professional installation, but you’ll pay more for permits and for land prep if you need to excavate around the house to make space for these windows.

While this may seem like a steep addition to your project cost, natural light can increase the value of your finished basement and make it a more pleasant place to hang out.

Door Installation

Installing an exterior basement entrance costs $2,500 to $10,000. If you just plan to add doors between basement bedrooms or bathrooms, interior doors cost about $360 to $1,160 per door. If you are turning your basement into a guest suite, you may want to add an exterior entrance to allow guests to access their suite without coming in and out of your home.

Repairs 

Basement and foundation repairs cost around $2,160 to $7,735. You may need to make basement repairs before you can build your at-home movie theater or mother-in-law suite downstairs. If you live in an area prone to flooding or have had a plumbing leak in the past, you’ll pay about $450 to over $13,000 for the cost of water damage restoration.

Mold or Asbestos Removal

Mold remediation costs $2,225 on average, and removing asbestos costs about $1,170 to $3,050. Basements may be old, damp, and riddled with hazardous elements like mold and asbestos that need remediation before you can begin framing and insulating the space.

Basement Finishing Kits

Basement finishing kits cost about $50 to $70 per square foot or about $30,000 total. A basement finishing system comes with everything you need to turn a basement into a livable space, from framing and joists to drywall and insulation.

A kit may take only a weekend to install, but you’ll also need flooring and paint as well as any necessary electrical or plumbing work to complete the basement.

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 a nearby 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:

PricePrice
Circular saw$50
Drill bit set$30
Caulk gun$5
Chalk line$7
Hammer drill$70
Hammer$7
Level$5
Sawhorses$80
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 basement 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.

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.

How Much Does It Cost to Furnish a Basement?

Furnishing your basement with all-new pieces usually costs at least $2,100, 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
Sofa$1,300
Loveseat$800
Coffee table$170
Side table$110
Pool table$2,800
Foosball table$650
Kitchenette$45,600
In-unit laundry room$3,875
Bar cabinet$765
Bar stool$100

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Once you have proper permits, the first steps toward a finished basement include installing any necessary framing, insulation, and drywall as well as plumbing and electrical work. Then, you can move on to the fun projects, like choosing flooring or paint colors.

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