What is the Most Expensive Part of Remodeling a Basement?

Do you know the most expensive part of remodeling or the breakdown of pricing for each section? Keep reading this guide to find out. 

Basement finishing is one of the factors that distinguish one house from another. Most homeowners eventually finish their basements because they like to use the area for more than just storage. Sometimes previous homeowners updated a portion of the basement, which can give you the motivation you need to finish the project. Depending on the amount of work and your goals, your project could be a minor facelift to a major renovation.

On the lower end of the spectrum, the homeowner might anticipate taking on tasks like putting in new flooring, painting or fixtures. From there, you may contemplate building walls to cover the foundation and possibly drywalling the ceiling to conceal the wiring, ductwork and floor joists. As your projects grow bigger, you may consider adding more rooms and setting up plumbing and electrical systems. These would be major initiatives, and they might also entail lowering the floor and rebuilding structural supports. Either way, it will cost money. But how much? And what is the most expensive part?

We’ll talk about these projects and the associated costs below.

The cost to remodel a basement

Depending on the materials you select and the contractors you work with, the average cost to finish a basement ranges between $10 and $30 per square foot. If you use high-end materials, the price per square foot could rise as high as $50. This means that you should budget between $5,000 and $15,000 for a small basement of 500 square feet. Your geographic location, how the space will be used and any fixtures you need installed are additional factors that could affect these costs.

Labor cost

Most contractors don’t charge per square foot or hour for basement finishing projects like they would for other home renovations. The final quote instead includes their labor rate. This is so that a variety of professionals, such as carpenters, plumbers, general laborers and electricians can do the work.

If you decide to work with a general contractor, budget up at least $34,000 for larger projects and anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500 for smaller projects. The cost of labor will typically range from 20 to 40 percent of the total project cost. However, the cost of hiring a contractor will vary according to how difficult the job is and how big the basement is.

Cost breakdown for each section

Here is a breakdown of the overall cost of finishing a basement.

  • Framing: Costs for basic framing alone, without drywall, range from $3 to $6 per linear foot. You need to increase that cost by $5 to $10 to include drywall. Most homeowners spend between $500 and $1,600, or about $1,200, on framing.
  • Flooring: Depending on the floor material, the average cost to install basement flooring ranges from $3 to $11 per square foot. This amounts to about $3,500 on average, with a range of $1,500 to $5,500 overall.
  • Drywall: You’ll pay between $1.50 and $4 per square foot to have drywall installed on your basement walls. You should budget between $750 and $2,000 for your 500-square-foot basement.
  • Insulation: The kind and thickness of the material you use will impact how much money you’ll spend insulating your basement. To insulate their basement, however, most homeowners spend between $1 and $5. This equals $500 to $2,500 for a basement that is 500 square feet.
  • Waterproofing: The average price per square foot to waterproof your basement is between $3 and $10. This is estimated to cost between $1,500 and $5,000 for a 500-square-foot basement.
  • Sump pump installation: Additionally, you’ll need to install a sump pump in your basement if you live in a flood-prone area. You will pay between $250 and $375 for the unit alone, and between $600 and $2,000 if you hire a pro to handle the installation.
  • Egress window: You must legally install an egress window or emergency exit window if you plan to use your basement as an office or additional living space. Its function is to give people a way out in an emergency, like a fire. Egress window installation costs range from $100 to $800 for pre-fabricated models and $500 to $2,000 for custom models. The installation of an egress window typically costs between $2,500 and $5,300, or about $3,900 nationwide.
  • Ceiling: Your basement ceiling installation will cost you between $1 and $2 per square foot. However, these costs can increase to $6 per square foot depending on the type of ceiling. The price range for a 500-square-foot basement is $500 to $1,000.
  • Lighting & electrical: It could cost you between $90 and $250 to install each light fixture, or up to $500 if you choose a fancy model. This comes to a total of about $2,880 for your basement. You’ll have to spend about $1,325 to install other electrical components and an additional $1,100 to install outlets.
  • Painting: To paint your basement, the majority of contractors will charge you anywhere between $3 and $7 per square foot. You should budget between $1,500 and $3,500 for a basement that is 500 square feet.
  • Plumbing: Moving the pipes or basing the designs on the existing plumbing will be a significant portion of the costs associated with remodeling your basement. Either way, you should expect to pay between $450 and $1,000 per fixture for hiring a professional to install the plumbing. Your overall costs for the project could be between $3,000 and $15,000.
  • Permits: You might also need to apply for permits for the plumbing and electrical work you plan to do, depending on where you live. You should budget between $1,200 and $2,000 for this.

Overall the most expensive parts of finishing your basement are plumbing, flooring, waterproofing and egress window installation. 

Additional costs to consider

In addition to the cost factors mentioned above, other factors that will raise the cost of finishing your basement include:

  • Damage repairs & replacements: Before finishing, your basement may need some repairs or replacements, which will increase the cost of these services. Before finishing the basement, for instance, any structural issues, termite infestations or mold and mildew issues need resolving. An expert contractor will cost you at least $3,000 to fix any of these problems.
  • Hazardous material inspection and removal: You might also need to test the basement walls for lead or asbestos in older homes (those built before the 1970s). If found, you’ll need to hire a specialist to fix the problem. The typical expert fee ranges from $7 to $15 per square foot or $3,500 to $7,500 for a 500-square-foot basement.
  • Luxury additions & enhancements: The price of finishing your basement will increase if you add other high-end features like recessed lighting, appliances, cabinets, and a kitchen.
  • Cosmetic upgrades: The homeowner should prepare to spend between $1000-$5000 on minor upgrades like carpet or other floorings. Upgrades to the lighting fixtures can also be made as part of a small basement renovation project.
  • Living quarters additions: Although adding living space for visitors or potential tenants can be expensive, it will eventually pay for itself. To make sure there is no moisture of any kind in the basement, the homeowner must first hire an inspector. If you don’t do this, you might not detect a leak, and that dampness might encourage the growth of dangerous mold. A thorough basement finishing project for living quarters could cost between $30,000 and $60,000, which seems like a significant expense but will pay for itself over a few years of renting the space. Leak protection is not included in this cost. Another huge advantage when trying to sell the house later is having a fully furnished rental apartment in the basement.
  • Structural changes: These would entail raising the ceilings and adding walls to create additional rooms. As storage is typically the primary use of a basement, the ceilings are typically low. As a result, homeowners may want to add more height by lowering the subfloor. Depending on the desired result, this is a time-consuming and expensive process that can cost between $10,000 and $15,000. A new concrete foundation will be poured after the contractor removes sections of the old one, and it will be used to stabilize the house as he moves on to the next section.

Many homeowners find finishing a basement to be an appealing option. It’s a good choice if you want to increase your living space without altering the size of your house, which isn’t an option for many houses. By plugging leaks that allow warm or cold air to enter your home, a finished basement can also help you control the temperature. A finished basement can also increase the value of your house if and when you decide to sell it. In the Metro East, Valor Home Services specializes in remodeling and finishing basements. Call Valor Home Services right away with any questions or for more details.