What Is The Average Cost Of Finishing A Basement?

A finished basement can add a great deal of value to your home. Additional living space will be enjoyed now and the overall appeal of your home will be higher when you go to sell it later. The average cost can be daunting for people. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to break the bank.


Framing isn’t terribly expensive and it can be done yourself. The hardest part is actually securing the wall frames to the concrete floor. Invest in a proper hammer that can handle this chore if you will be doing it yourself. Doing it yourself will only run about $200, while the average cost to frame a basement when hiring professionals can run you about $1000 for a 20x 20 room. Talk to your friends to see if anyone knows how to frame walls. It’s not rocket science, and getting a buddy to help you out in exchange for beer and pizza can present you with a huge savings.


Finished walls don’t do you any good if there are no outlets in them. Something to keep in mind when determining what this project will cost is the expense of having wiring run. Now, if you know your way around an electrical box this may be a project you can do yourself. However, you will still have to pay for the supplies. The supplies alone for wiring one large basement can run about $300. This includes the wire, electrical boxes, outlets and junction boxes. Larger rooms will cost more to wire, this assumes that you have roughly 80 feet of linear wall to run.

If you don’t know how to run wiring, then you should not attempt this project yourself. Call a professional and pay them to do it for you. It might cost $600 or more, depending on the size of the project, but you want to make sure this job is done right. Another option is to go through your list of friends and see if any of them are electricians. Sometimes you can get a friend or acquaintance to cut you a deal on work.

Cost Can Often Be Calculated Off Of Square Footage

The Walls

There are several different options for the walls and the one you choose will depend largely on the finishing work you are willing to get into. Sheetrock is the cheapest option as far as materials are concerned. At less than $7 a sheet, it’s definitely more attractive than the $14 to $24 a sheet you will pay for wood panels of any kind.

The downside of sheetrock is that it has to be finished, and this should not be undertaken by amateurs. If you know how to putty and sand the wall, then by all means, go with sheetrock and save a small fortune. On the other hand, if you are going to have to pay someone to come in and do the finishing work, then wood paneling or wainscoting may start to look more attractive. Having a 20×20 basement covered in sheetrock can easily cost more than a $1000 if you are paying someone else to do it.

On the other hand, covering a 20×20 room with beadboard or wainscoting will not be nearly as expensive. You would need roughly 20 sheets and even at $25 a sheet for something really nice you would still only be at $500.

The Ceiling

Tempting as it is to leave the ceiling unfinished, it’s not recommended. Home appraisers look at the ceiling and so do potential buyers. Taking the time to finish the ceiling will drive up the average cost but it will also leave you with a room that is more attractive and enjoyable.

Sheetrock is the least expensive option, but you are again running into the issue of finishing it. If you like the look of beadboard, you can install a beadboard ceiling yourself. Start with luan across the entire ceiling before you start gluing and nailing in the individual pieces of beadboard. The overall cost for installing this yourself will be about $500, compared with $1000 or more to pay someone else to sheetrock the entire ceiling.

Heat and Air

The average cost to put heat and air in a basement should be neglible. Most homes that have basements already feature ductwork feeding heat and air into that area. If your home does not have this, it is a necessary addition. Doing the project yourself will probably only cost a few hundred dollars. Hiring someone to install new ductwork in the area should run about $500.

Always Include Waterproofing

If your basement is not watertight, you are looking at a serious expense. The average cost of waterproofing can be several thousand dollars. It all depends on what has to be done. If the area around the foundation has to be dug up to do it, you could easily be looking at $7,000 or more. If it can be done from the inside with channels, drains and a sump pump then you could still be facing a bill of a few thousand. Before committing thousands of dollars into a basement renovation, call for a professional survey. Find out exactly what the risks are of water coming in and how your basement can be protected. Don’t invest any money into finishing the basement until you know it is fully waterproofed.


It’s nice to have a bathroom in your basement. Running plumbing through a concrete slab can be expensive and time consuming. If you really want a bathroom installed and have the skills to do it yourself, you are probably looking at a cost of about $1500. This includes the rental of the equipment, the plumbing materials, the sheetrock in the room and the fixtures. This is one of those projects that may be better left to the pros. In that case, you should add about $3,500 to the average cost.

The Finishing Touches

There are some finishing touches that can be done by contractors for a fee, or you can do them yourself. Walls should be insulated, and that is one job that is easily done by the homeowner. The insulation will only run about $200, and paying someone to pop it in may cost another $200. Painting is a chore that some people love doing. If you enjoy painting then you can easily save a few hundred dollars by doing it yourself.


Nobody wants to play on a cold, concrete floor. There are several flooring options available. For less than $500 you can install your own linoleum or vinyl floor. If you love the look of wood, then consider installing a laminate. It will run about $1000 to place this on the floor. Paying a contractor to install those products will increase the price by about $800. Another option is to catch a sale on carpet where the installation is free or only a few hundred dollars. In this case, you can get decent carpet installed for less than $1500.

The Bottom Line

If you can do all the work yourself, then you can expect the average basement finishing costs for a 20×20 basement to come in at less than $3500. This does not include the bathroom option and it assumes that your it already has air and is water tight. If you choose the convenience of letting someone else do the work, expect the average cost to be at least $7,000.

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