What a Basement Renovation Actually Costs

Brett Martin
Photo credit: Houzz

From House Beautiful

First Things First:

Turning an unfinished basement into livable space is the cheapest way to boost your home’s usable square footage — and your home's overall value. A low-end redo starts at about $6,500 (if you're upgrading an already refinished space). But if you're turning a raw area into something nicer, the average goes up to $17,459. Seems pricey, but consider that it’s much less expensive than the average $45,328 it would cost to build an entire home addition. Plus, you’ll get about 69 percent of that expense back when you go to sell your house down the road, according to some estimates.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Rethink the Space:

Untapped basement space can be converted into any type of room, from a wide-open floor plan to individual spaces for a bedroom, home office, and kids’ play area. But be aware that every time a wall goes up, so does the project cost. Building one 12- x 12-foot room in the basement adds $1,200 or more, while building a basement bathroom costs an average of $7,600.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Claim Your Home Office Space

More people than ever are working from home. You deserve dedicated office space that’s comfortable and inspiring. You’ll need sufficient lighting, internet connectivity and ideally, shelving and enclosed storage. The cost of adding an office in the basement from scratch, from building the walls through the finishing touches, costs about $5,500 and up.


Get Wired:

An unfinished basement presents opportunities that you don’t generally have in completed rooms. Open walls that are not yet drywalled make it easy to run audio and video cables for entertainment or home security systems, so installing home theater wiring can cost as little $100. For $100 and up, you can also run cables for high-speed internet or Ethernet, and wires and cables for a home office or home theater setup.

Choosing Flooring:

Typical rules for flooring do not apply in basements because most basement floors are installed “below grade," which means below the soil line surrounding the house. The lower the grade, the more the moisture — so you’ll want to avoid solid wood, which can expand, buckle, or cup over time. For a 600-square-foot basement, expect flooring materials to start at $1,200 for carpeting, sheet vinyl, or vinyl tile; $2,800 for ceramic tile, and $4,200 for laminate flooring.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Warming Things Up:

One downside to a basement is the chill factor. In the summer, it’s great, but in the winter, you don’t want to shiver when you’re inside. Possible solution: Add a fireplace. A gas fireplace costs an average of $2,180, while a wood burning fireplace costs $857 to $3,595. (Obviously costs vary, depending on the masonry work both inside the house for the hearth and mantel, and if an outdoor chimney is needed.)

Raising the Bar:

It's every homeowner's dream: a space downstairs where you can drink but never have to drive. A small basement bar without any bells or whistles averages $2,000 to $4,000 — but a version with running water and a sink can cost $6,000 and up. Upgrade that option with woodwork and granite countertops, shelves for bottles, cabinets for glassware, and lighting, and you're looking at $15,000 or more (not including appliances).

Read More From The Real Costs Of Renovation

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