Will a Finished Basement Help Sell My D.C. Home?

Jason Hargraves
Written by Jason Hargraves
Updated February 11, 2022
Adding additional kitchen and entertaining spaces are popular options when finishing your basement. (Photo by Angie's List member Rajinder S.)

Interior designers will know the most desirable features

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Finishing your basement is a relatively simple way to add more living space to your home, but it won’t necessarily translate into more total square footage.

Surprised? Lots of DIYers discover too late that their basement upgrades won’t leave extra money on the table if they choose to sell.

“Keep in mind that the only square footage that can be counted in the total square footage must be above grade,” Northern Virginia-based interior designer Cindy Beyer tells RestonNow. “A quick call to your zoning office can explain which rooms count.”

For those living in the greater Washington-area that call can be complicated because the rules in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. can vary greatly.

What’s OK in one, may not be in the other. That’s where a highly rated interior designer or builder can help.

If you’re looking at new construction, Beyer suggests instructing your builder to add extra height to basement walls.

“An extra two feet will allow your finished ceiling height to be a standard eight-foot, hopefully more,” says Beyer, adding that it’s smart to pick a house and lot plan that will allow a walk-out lower level with backyard access.

Upgrades that will pay off in the end

If you choose to spend extravagant amounts of money on an over-the-top basement makeover, whether in an old rowhouse or new single-family home, don’t expect to see a return on that investment.

Most buyers look for finished walls, ceilings and floors in a remodeled basement, as well as proper wiring to accommodate televisions and computers.

Many buyers have specific plans for the basement, such as media and game rooms, and providing an impersonal, functional space will allow them to personalize the basement to their own tastes and needs.

In the end, choose something that works best for your family and will be easily transformed into something another home owner may want.

For more details about basement remodeling, check out this helpful guide.


Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.