Remodeling your basement is the most cost-effective way to add square footage to your home, and add a potential lifetime income stream through rental. It has a good return on investment, but it isn’t cheap. A typical basement remodel will run you between $20-$25 per square ft, but this can very greatly depending on your needs, how much you can do yourself and which basement contractor you work with.
So how much does a basement remodel cost?
With proper planning and attention to detail, a remodeled basement can provide living space that’s every bit as attractive and welcoming as the rest of the house.
- Contractors’ estimates should include a number of basic factors such as moisture control. Insulation is also a must and it’s important to check for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is common in some parts of the US.
- For $500 -$5,000, Do-It-Yourselfers can waterproof the walls with a brush-on compound, then add carpeting, paneling, a dropped ceiling or other touches to make a basement into a more usable living area. Actual costs depend a great deal on what shape the basement is in at the start of the project, and whether the upgrades include such items as ground-level windows; improved lighting; a full- or half-bath; and a laundry area. The upper end of the price range includes hiring contractors to install proper ventilation, electrical wiring or plumbing.
- Converting a basement into a reasonably comfortable and legal rental unit averages $30,000 -$50,000, according to OldHouseWeb.com.
- Nationwide, basement remodeling costs average $51,000 -$67,000 for a project which includes a 20×30-foot entertaining area with wet bar, a 5-x-8-foot full bath, 24 feet of partition to enclose a mechanical area, painted walls, ceilings and trim throughout, exterior insulation, doors and electrical wiring, according to 2006 annual cost vs. value report by RemodelingOnline.
- A lot depends on how much is included and the quality of the final project. Remodeling Online says finishing basements in relatively new homes runs about $20 -$25 a square foot, or $30,000 -$50,000 for 1,500-2,000 square feet — but costs can start at $100,000 (and go up) to create a fully-finished space.
What should be included:
- Finishing an unfinished basement is similar to building an addition or a new home, but generally the project is smaller and a lot less expensive. Waterproofing and insulation is key; the US Department of Energy gives a detailed overview complete with cost estimates for a range of options.
- Local planning departments usually have specific regulations on ceiling height, access doors, radon ventilation, waterproofing and other details of the basement remodeling process. Many building codes now require upgrades such as residential fire sprinklers for new construction or major remodeling projects. Ask about local requirements and get all required permits (or make sure the contractor does this). Depending on the location, permit costs can be next to nothing or extremely expensive; find out exactly what they are and include them in the project’s budget.
- Foundation walls and floors are almost never straight and plumb, which can make remodeling difficult. Companies such as Owens Corning and Basement Systems sell complete basement-finishing systems which many contractors use.
Shopping for basement remodeling:
- Be clear about how the new space is going to be used and, if the basement is currently a storage area, where everything will go once the project is done. Better Homes & Gardens offers design ideas to keep in mind. For inspiration, ThisOldHouse.com provides a quick photo gallery of one basement’s sparkling transformation.
- Contractor referrals are available through the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
- Get estimates from several companies; request and check references. Understand exactly what is (and isn’t) included in each estimate, and whether the contractor will do the paperwork for required building permits. Ask about the contractor’s length and type of experience, especially if there’s anything unusual about your project. Be sure a company is properly bonded and insured and licensed in your state. See if there are any complaints with the Better Business Bureau. 
Priority Homes is a premier Utah Builder and offers quality and competitive pricing for all your construction needs. Call 435-623-2382 today and see what we can offer you.