Learn the Average Cost to Finish a Basement – There are Different Costs to Basement Finishing

May 29, 2012

What is the Average Cost to Finish a Basement?

The average cost to finish a basement properly, and correctly, varies and will depend on the cost breakdown you are interested in.  Basement finishing costs also vary and the location of your home influences the cost of finishing your basement.

  • In general, the price tag for basement finishing could range between $50.00 to $85.00 per square foot of finished space.  This cost does not include furnishings or appliances, for example.

Finishing a 600 square foot basement may cost a homeowner between $30,000 and $55,000 to create an additional dry, usable living space depending on the material choices etc.

awardThe cost to finish a basement per square foot is about half the cost of building an addition of the same size onto your home! Depite the cost to finish a basement, it is the most affordable, sensible home improvement solution when you are looking to create additional living space.

Learn more about the cost to value ratio study done by Remodeling Magazine here 2014 Cost vs. Value Study and the 2015 Cost vs. Value Study


Why Can It Cost So Much to Finish a Basement?

Cost and pricing for finishing a basement are two of the most common questions asked when homeowners contact Rescon to have their basements finished. Many homeowners are happy to find that the cost to finish a basement is not as expensive as they thought.  Finishing a basement can be an additional cost expense that may be higher than you anticipate if you factor in a variety of expenses.   Here are a few items that may increase the cost of finishing a basement.

  • size of the basement space – your basement may be bigger than you think it is!
  • geographical location of the home.
  • laundry room – add or remodel a laundry room.
  • bathroom – add or remodel a bathroom and the size of a bathroom.
  • height of the ceiling – is the ceiling low or high?
  • egress – will your newly finished basement require a means of egress or an additional means of egress (read about egress on our blog)?
  • utility access – will electrical wires, oil tanks, furnaces etc. need to be moved or boxed in?

The above items can all affect the cost of finishing or remodeling a basement.

Despite the cost of a typical basement finishing project, finishing your basement will increase the value of your home and give you a high return on the cost you invested.  Improving, remodeling or finishing the basement is the best project for your money on a pure cost to value ratio when it comes to making home improvements.

Cost of Finishing a Basement – My neighbor had a basement finished for a very low cost

Chris Brown, owner at Rescon, notes that people may ask us, “Why is your cost to finish a basement higher than what [my buddy, my neighbor etc] paid?”

When asking about the cost to finish a basement, we also hear from potential clients that “My neighbor had a buddy finish his basement for half the price!”  or  we may hear that “a “buddy”  said he would do it for $5,000 if we buy the materials.”

There are also people that tell us “I can do it myself for a lot less.”   We don’t doubt that a person can DIY his or her basement for less money.  The cost to finish a basement DIY is always cheaper.  No matter what you are looking to do, if you DIY it, it will be cheaper; unless you make a mistake.

I have heard all the stories and read all the reasons why people think that professional contractor costs and prices are just too high. Let me give a little insight for those of you who don’t know what it’s like to DIY or do a home improvement project with your neighbor’s “guy” or your “buddy” (that buddy may likely be your soon to be ex-buddy).

All those horror stories you hear about contractors. Well 95% are due to that “guy” or “buddy”. Those “guys” and “buddies” are the ones that take forever to finish, don’t use the right products, don’t pull permits, are uninsured or worst of all runaway with your money, leave you with nothing and no way to contact them. I am constantly amazed by homeowners who will take great risks thinking they are saving money, only to have it cost them much more in the end. It is truly one of the few major expenses (medical expenses, college tuition, new car, vacation) where I have seen people give thousands of dollars to a “guy” in a truck thinking they are making a great decision based on how much money they are saving. Just curious, if you gave money to a “guy” selling Rolex watches or Louis Vuitton bags on the street do you really think that’s what your getting. If you do there is no need to read the rest of this article.


Don’t fall into this basement finishing cost price trap and become a victim of cheap work.

I understand everyone thinks finishing a basement is just slapping up some walls, putting in a drop ceiling and laying down some carpet. Trust me, if it was that easy companies would charge less. Established companies with solid reputations, experienced professional staff, outstanding service records and solid product lines are not out ripping off clients. Established companies realize they are in business to help clients, not to hurt them.
I also understand a good contractor costs more than you want to spend, most things worth having normally do. So lets look at this another way. Would you search out a heart surgeon working for a bargain price so you could save money. Probably not. So it surprises me how many homeowners don’t realize they are doing the same thing when handling home improvements. One mistake in your basement (removing a column, relocating a beam, chopping out concrete footings) and your house could collapse. Same result that you might get from the bargain heart surgeon.

My recommendation, spend the money and have a great home. Do your homework and understand who you are hiring. Only hire “companies”, no “guys” or “buddies”. Make sure the company is fully insured with atleast 2 Million in General Liability coverage and 1 Million in Workers Compensation coverage. Who do they have on staff? How long have they been in business? Do they know basements? Check them out on “Angies List” (companies in Angies List have no control over the reviews they receive). And when it comes to price make sure to have a well defined scope of work. This will allow you to get apples to apples pricing from each company. Then take the package and have three reputable basement finishing companies provide you with prices on the project. Interview each company thouroghly and understand what products they will use, are they insured, how long have they been in business, who  to finish your space. Give more weight to the company whose price is in the middle, they have likely priced the project appropriatly.


You can also download our “10 Step Basement Finishing Checklist” below.