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What Does It Cost to Finish a Basement?

What if you could expand your home’s usable square footage without building on an addition or putting it up for sale and moving across town? The cost to finish your basement may seem like a major barrier to this spacious dream, but the price tag actually depends on what you want from it. Getting a clean space for your washer and dryer can cost much less than an all-out gaming and movie room. The estimate you get for either one can vary dramatically depending on where you live and the state your basement’s in. And you can save if you do even some of the work yourself. More often than not, the cost to finish a basement is less than adding onto your home’s second story, bumping out the floor plan with an addition, or assembling a detached ADU in the backyard.

A finished basement is definitely worth the expense if you have the money to invest—it increases your square footage as well as your overall home value and can lower your energy bills—but there are many aspects to budget for. It’s crucial to ensure your home’s lower level is waterproof and protected against mildew, mold, and leaks. That’s why durable, waterproof flooring is the biggest line item for many people. Modern windows and proper drainage (including a sump pump, if necessary) factor in too. Ahead, we break down the cost of finishing a basement, including whether it’ll be worth it when you’re ready to sell.

Average Total Cost

According to Home Advisor, the average cost of a fully finished basement is about $15 per square foot, or $15,000 for a 1,000 square-foot space. However, that can vary wildly depending on what you want the space to become and the condition it’s in when you start.


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Level of Renovation

The cost to finish your basement depends on how much work it will take to make it look and function the way you want. The good news is any work that has been done previously may help bring down the expense.


Finishing a basement means taking an uninhabitable space and turning it into one that can be used to hang out, sleep, and live in. The “before” space probably has no insulation, no heat or air conditioning, exposed wires and plumbing, and concrete floors. It’s safe for storage or laundry appliances, but it’s not up to code for a habitable living space. A partially finished basement is a brighter, cleaner, and more comfortable space to wash clothes, run on a treadmill, store extra pantry goods, or keep your pet’s supplies. A fully finished basement looks more like your living room and is ready for furniture.


A basement remodeling project typically involves updating the design or functionality of an already finished area. This kind of space probably can be inhabited even if it is considered dirty, unfinished, or uncomfortable. Of course, these changes can still be pretty extensive. You may want to make structural changes to the space, reorganize its layout, and add or remove walls. You might even want to gut the space entirely. The difference is you’re not starting from scratch—and that can actually cost more.


A partially finished basement that needs renovating has some features that make it a liveable space. There may be a basement bathroom and some simple flooring and drywall. Depending on whether the space is connected to the home’s HVAC system, it may be useful as a home gym or laundry room, but it’s usually not comfortable enough to be a true living space. Changes to this type of space often include new flooring and paint. Consider a quick renovation that includes primarily aesthetic changes.

basement gym

Virtually Here Studios

Breakdown of Common Costs

Take these expenses into account when planning your budget. The biggest ticket item—flooring—might surprise you, but you can make design choices to help control it.


As with any other major home renovation, you have to apply for and be granted a building permit, plus electrical and plumbing permits depending on the scope of your project. Permit application fees widely vary based on where you live and what you plan to do, but you can expect to spend around $0.15 cents per square foot, at least in New York State.


This is arguably the most important step—and you definitely don’t want to cheap out. Waterproofing your basement protects your investment from minor rain-day leaks up to full-blown hurricane-level flooding. You’ll need to do this first, and you can expect it to cost approximately $4,500. If there’s existing water damage, you can expect to tack on an additional $2,850 for basement drainage repair.


No matter what style of home you have or how old it is, the plumbing pipes pass through the basement. For a properly finished basement, all of the plumbing must be up to code and properly covered. If you want to add a bathroom to your basement, you’ll need to have the pipes extended and the fixtures installed. The total cost to finish a basement with a bathroom ranges from $8,000 to $15,000 on average.

Your basement may also need a drainage system and sump pump. If your area is prone to flooding or your building codes require it, you may not have a choice. The type of soil that surrounds your home is another factor that determines whether or not a sump pump is mandatory; an engineering firm or landscape architect can do a soil assessment to give you the information you need. The average cost to have a sump pump installed is just under $600. Having backup power for your sump pump isn’t a bad idea either, especially if you live in hurricane territory.

vanessa francis basement

Courtesy of Vanessa Francis


Because many areas do not allow DIY electrical work, you will have to hire a licensed electrician to install outlets and properly wire your basement. Electrical work for a finished basement averages around $1,325; you can expect to pay $75 to $500 per electrical outlet.


The bulk of your costs, the materials required to finish a basement include concrete, lumber for framing, insulation, flooring, and drywall. This doesn’t include interior design finishings like paint, lighting, and hardware. It costs $1,795 on average to frame a basement, not including insulation and drywall.

The finishing touch before the furniture and flat screens come in, drywall and flooring don’t have to be a huge renovation cost. Choosing waterproof basement flooring like vinyl is crucial; hardwood isn’t practical unless your basement is very dry because it’s prone to warping and splitting if it gets wet. Vinyl plank flooring costs, on average, $2 to $7 per square foot, according to This Old House. Drywall is cheaper with an average cost of $0.15 to 0.65 cents per square foot (approximately $10 per panel).

Is a Finished Basement Worth It?

Ultimately, yes, you’ll probably recoup most of the cost to finish your basement. A finished basement not only increases your home’s useable square footage, but it also increases your home’s value. The return on investment is between 70 to 80 percent on average, so while you may not see all of your money come back, you will see most of it. According to Rocket Mortgage, a home with a finished basement that cost $10,000 can add nearly $8,000 to the asking price.

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Kate McGregor is House Beautiful’s SEO Editor. She has covered everything from curated decor round-ups and shopping guides, to glimpses into the home lives of inspiring creatives, for publications such as ELLE Decor, Domino, and Architectural Digest’s Clever.