Personal Finance

How Much Is A Basement Remodel

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 11 minute read

Our first home had a basement that was just half finished and wasn’t very inviting. The vinyl flooring didn’t do a great job of covering up the concrete below. Fake wood paneling was slapped on the walls without any thought. Both the light bulbs and the ceiling were unequal.

We spent the next few years fixing up every inch of this space. We put in new wiring, fixed up the ceiling and woodwork, painted the walls and laid new flooring. Lights, window coverings, furniture, and artwork were all included in the upgrades. And we accomplished it all for around $1,600.

Since our basement already had walls and a ceiling, however rudimentary, our renovation did not count as a complete redesign. However, you can apply the methods we employed to save money when renovating any type of basement, from a simple refresh to a complete gut and refinishing.

How to Save Money on Basement Renovations

When it comes to increasing the value of your house without breaking the bank, finishing your basement is one of the best options. Materials for a basement renovation might easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. That means the price tag on your next project might be much higher in three months.

If you plan carefully, though, you may do a basement redesign for far less than the national average. The key is to prioritize your spending and make smart choices with your money.

  1. Create a Budget

If you don’t have a plan and a certain amount of money to spend, you won’t be able to keep to it. The first thing to do is to decide what you want. Uses that can be accommodated by a basement’s completion include:

  • The home office
  • Room for the family
  • The game room
  • Playroom
  • Gym at home
  • Home cinema
  • The wine cellar
  • A wet bar
  • Bedroom for visitors
  • Additional restroom
  • Complete apartment that may be rented out as an additional housing unit

Once the intended use of the space has been established, you may walk around it to see what adjustments need to be made. Next, head over to HomeAdvisor to get a ballpark estimate of how much money you’ll need to make these alterations. Make a rough spending plan with the information.

If the total amount seems out of reach, you should begin cutting costs immediately. What are the project’s absolute necessities, and what may be put off until later? There’s the pricey piping and wiring that comes with installing a wet bar or a home cinema. If you cut back on these options, you might be able to bring your spending in line.

Get a contractor’s opinion on the costs involved if you need help deciding what to keep and what to reduce. They will be able to give you an honest assessment of what you can afford.

  1. DIY Wherever Possible

You should start looking for cheaper alternatives if the final cost is still too high after you’ve cut your list down to the bare minimum. Cutting costs by doing the job yourself rather than paying contractors is a great option.

The price of labor can account for 10% to 40% of a basement renovation’s total price tag. That’s how much money you might be able to save if you decide to take on the project by yourself. You may save time and effort by doing as much as possible of the job yourself, and you may even be able to restore some of the excess you eliminated in Step 1.

My husband and I were able to drastically reduce the price tag of our basement remodel by doing most of the work ourselves. We tore out the old paneling, patched and painted the walls, refinished the woodwork, put in new lighting, and redone the floor ourselves.

It’s possible you won’t be able to handle the entirety of your basement refinishing project on your own if it’s bigger than ours was. However, if you have some DIY experience under your belt, you can take care of things like painting, repairing lights, and patching walls. Those who are more experienced with DIY projects can also hang drywall and lay flooring.

  1. Obtain Multiple Contractor Bids

You probably won’t be able to do it all alone if your basement is currently unfinished. Large renovations, such as plumbing and electrical work, or installing an egress window, require the assistance of professionals.

A good rule of thumb is to hire a professional for any task that needs a license. Building rules must be followed, thus knowing the codes through and out is essential for these occupations. A DIY homeowner who makes errors might wind up spending more money on professional repairs.

Always receive at least three quotes when choosing a contractor. You may prevent being overcharged by gaining a fair notion of market rates by comparing the three.

Do not simply accept the lowest offer you get. A contractor that bids much less than everyone else could be trying to save money by taking shortcuts. It’s better to pay a bit more to ensure a work is done well if you have to pay someone to do it.

The one expert we hired to help us with the work in the basement turned out to be a stroke of luck. The lowest bid came from the contractor with the highest customer ratings. As a result, choosing who to hire was a breeze.

If the best contractor you can find is also the highest bidder, you may use the other offers to negotiate a better price. Inquire about a price reduction by letting them know what other companies have offered. You should also consult with them about the possibility of arranging a payment plan or reducing the overall cost of the job.

  1. Select Basic Materials

It’s easy to get carried away with all the pretty photographs in home publications and on the internet while you’re in the planning stages of a renovation project. Those stunning photos probably used pricey equipment and materials that are out of your price range. If you want to keep your renovation costs in check, you should search for more cost-effective materials. Methods to cut costs on supplies include:

  • Look for Deals using the Price filter. Tiles and light fixtures are two examples of products to shop for with pricing in mind. The risk of falling in love with something that’s out of your price range increases if you go straight for the high end. You could not like anything until you try something more expensive, but there’s a strong chance you’ll find something you enjoy if you start cheap.
  • Nonetheless, try not to skimp. In certain cases, the least expensive materials don’t hold up very well. Be skeptical of deals that seem too good to be true unless there are positive reviews to back up the product’s claims of quality. A longer-lasting but slightly more expensive material might end up saving you money in the long term.
    Instead of having something made just for you, go with something prefabricated.
  • Prefabricated cabinets are far more affordable than custom-built ones. For example, whereas a set of handcrafted egress windows and window wells would set you back a few thousand dollars, a set of prefabricated ones might just set you back a few hundred.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for deals. Take use of materials that are on sale, such as overstocks, returns, and floor models (slightly damaged goods sold at a reduced price). Check out your local reuse center for low prices on lumber, flooring, lighting, paint, and plumbing supplies.
  1. Save money on walls

Putting up new walls is a major expense when finishing a basement. You should expect to pay between $1,000 and $3,000 per wall for your remodeled basement.

Choosing an open floor plan might help you save a lot of money while redecorating your home. Fewer basement walls mean less money spent on building, drywall, wiring, insulation, and doors.

Look for low-cost partitioning options if you want a less open style. Curtains, freestanding screens, and track-mounted wall dividers are just a few of the options for creating private spaces. And when you need a large open area, just slide these open.

If you must construct new walls, you may keep construction costs down by reducing the number of studs used. Since they won’t be structurally important walls, you can get away with putting 24 inches between studs instead of 16 inches.

Using fewer studs can reduce framing expenses and electricity expenditures. The studs in an outside wall are like conductors; they let warm air from the summer and cold air from the winter deep inside. Fewer studs in a wall improve insulation, resulting in lower heating and cooling expenses.

Sticking with painted drywall on the exterior might be another cost-effective option. Adding elaborate textures to drywall, such combing or sand swirling, is a costly endeavor.

  1. Choose Low-Cost Flooring

Wooden flooring’s high initial investment (up to $22 per square foot) is justified by its timeless beauty. Due to their susceptibility to water damage, they are not a good option for the basement.

Ceramic tile can withstand water, but it is sometimes rather expensive and can feel cold and harsh on the feet. Choose one of these cost-effective alternatives for your basement floor instead:

  • Carpet. Carpet can insulate your feet from the cold basement floor for around $3 to $11 per square foot. In order to prevent water from seeping in, a moisture barrier might be placed beneath.
  • Laminate. Similar to the price of carpet, laminate flooring is rather inexpensive. It comes in many different colors and patterns, and it is durable and simple to maintain. However, it is easily damaged by moisture, thus it shouldn’t be installed in a damp basement.
  • The Finest Quality Luxury Vinyl Tile Available. Waterproof and incredibly sturdy, luxury vinyl flooring may be purchased for around $2 a square foot. It, like laminate, is available in a variety of designs. Although it may be installed directly over a concrete slab, a moisture barrier is recommended for very wet areas like basements.
  • Completed Concrete. Painting or finishing the existing concrete is one of the least expensive methods to complete a basement. Paint, stain, or epoxy are just a few of the available choices. Concrete may be polished or stenciled to add design. Despite being hard and cold, finished concrete is highly long-lasting and low-maintenance.
  • From $2 up to $25 per square foot, professionals will charge for their services here. A basic stain job, on the other hand, may be done by the homeowner for less than a dollar per square foot.
  • Paper. We decided to go with a novel paper-bag floor design in the basement. Because we completed it ourselves and didn’t require a subfloor, it was quite affordable. To cover 400 square feet with kraft paper and polyurethane cost us around $325.
  1. Allow the Ceiling to Be Open

The price of joists, insulation, and drywall to complete a basement ceiling ranges from $1 to $5 per square foot. Wood paneling or a textured ceiling treatment are two expensive extras that might be added to your budget.

The added expense of a drop ceiling. Panels of this ceiling style may be removed to facilitate access to wiring and ductwork. The total cost per square foot, including the panels, grid rails, and installation, can be as high as $26.

Spray painting the ceiling of your basement is the most cost-effective finishing option. Once the walls, ceiling, and floors are all the same color, the piping and ducting virtually disappear.

For less than half the price of a completed ceiling, you can have this done and still have easy access to all of your pipes and ducts whenever you need it. The only real drawback is that there won’t be any thermal separation between the basement and the rest of the house.

  1. Bathrooms should be planned around existing plumbing.

A basement bathroom addition might easily run you $10,000 or more. It’s still not cheap, at around $12,000, but it’s generally less than the $30,000-$50,000 it would cost to install a new bathroom elsewhere in the house.

In addition, this improvement can greatly raise your home’s market value. The value of your property will increase by around 10% if you install a half bath and 15% to 20% if you add a full bath.

Working around the existing plumbing can provide this advantage at a cheap cost. It’s more cost effective to use the existing pipes that run to the upper levels rather than installing whole new ones.

Existing drains can reduce the price of a new bathroom by $500 to $1,000. One can save between $1,500 and $4,000 if the bathroom is already “roughed in,” meaning that the water supply and drain lines for the toilet, shower, and sink have been installed.

The sink and shower in a basement bathroom addition may be built closer to the water heater, which is another advantage. As a result, hot water will reach your faucets more quickly. While waiting, turn the water on only as much as is necessary to avoid wasting water and money.

  1. Waterproofing should not be overlooked.

One of the most important aspects of a basement renovation is waterproofing. If water seeps into your basement every time it rains heavily, you can forget about using it as a habitable place. Additionally, mold and mildew can be created in unhealthy quantities if moisture is allowed to accumulate within the walls.

Do a basic moisture test first before you start renovating your basement. Put a square of aluminum foil or plastic wrap on the wall and secure it with duct tape. If water collects on the side of the basement that faces the wall, you may want to consider waterproofing the space.

Waterproofing may have a wide range of prices. An application of sealant may occasionally solve minor moisture issues for as little as $100.

More extensive issues call for more expensive fixes like drains and sump pumps, as well as sealing the foundation and correcting cracks. In most cases, you should expect to pay between $2,000 and $7,000 for a professional waterproofing job in a basement.

Still, it’s a wise investment because doing so helps avoid other water-related catastrophes. After a year or two, if your freshly finished basement gets flooded, you may need to remove the drywall, carpet, and even the furniture you put in there.

  1. Leave Some Unfinished Business

The goal of any basement renovation project should be to increase the usable area in the property. But don’t overlook the necessity of a storage area. Most homes’ basements serve as their main storage area, therefore any property lacking such a place is likely to be less appealing to potential purchasers.

There is no reason to spend money remodeling a basement that will just be used for storage. Simply build a wall around the unfinished space. You may save as much as a third on renovation fees while still having a sizable storage area if you only do it to a third of the basement.

As an added bonus, you may reduce your annual property tax bill by leaving an unfinished basement space. The square footage of the living area is the sole factor used in determining your home’s worth in an appraisal. The unfinished basement won’t affect your property taxes.

Bottom Line

One of the most profitable ways to improve your home’s worth is to renovate the basement. It’s cheaper than adding on to the house if you need additional room for your family. HomeAdvisor estimates that you may get 70% of your money back by renovating your basement.

Nonetheless, the greatest advantage of a basement renovation is not the increased value it provides when selling a home. The satisfaction you have when utilizing your brand-new home. Therefore, while creating it, prioritize the needs of you and your family over the desires of potential buyers.

A home theater or fitness center might not be a big deal in the current real estate market. However, it’s important to consider how often you’ll be using the room before deciding whether or not to make the investment. There may even be a financial benefit if you no longer need to pay for things like a gym membership or movie tickets.

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