Know Your Basement Finishing Cost

When finishing a basement, the most common question people have is, "How much does it cost to finish a basement?" This is a complex question, and it does not have a simple answer. The cost of finishing a basement can vary considerably depending on factors such as what you want in your finished basement, the existing structure of the home and the square footage of the basement. However, if you follow the steps below, you should be able to get a basic idea of what the project is going to cost you so that you can plan your finances and make a budget.

STEP ONE: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT

The features in your basement will make the biggest difference in the basement finishing costs, so it is important to decide what you want before you begin. Think about what kind of ceilings you want, the type of flooring you would like and any special features such as a bathroom, a wet bar or a second water heater. Also, consider whether you want the basement completely finished or whether you could leave some things unfinished. On average, a basement bathroom costs about $4,000 to $6,000, a wet bar costs $5,000 to $10,000, and a home theater can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000.

STEP TWO: EVALUATE THE EXISTING STRUCTURE

The current construction of a basement is the second important factor in calculating the cost to finish basement projects. Look around your basement and notice factors such as whether the bathroom area has plumbing pipes and a drain, whether your existing heating and cooling system can accommodate the remodel, and whether or not there are electrical outlets already installed. If you plan to add a basement bathroom, you may need a sump pump; for bedrooms, egress windows are essential.

It is also important to evaluate the waterproofing needs of your basement. There is nothing worse than having a newly renovated area damaged by water, so make sure to take into consideration such things as the condition of your pipes and gutters, the slope of your yard and the state of your concrete. If there is any chance that water could enter your finished basement, add waterproofing costs such as landscaping, concrete repair and waterproof coating for your walls. This can total as much as $10,000.

STEP THREE: CALCULATE THE SQUARE FOOTAGE OF YOUR HOME

Before you can figure your basement finishing costs; you need to know the size of the basement. This will help you figure out how much flooring you will need, and you can also use the calculation to estimate the overall cost of the basement. The cost to finish a basement can vary considerably for different sizes of basements, but in general, a smaller basement costs more per square foot than a larger basement. Depending on where you live, the price will be anywhere from $25 to $50 per square foot, with $35 being the average. Of course, this will be much less if you do the work yourself.

STEP FOUR: FIGURE THE COST OF MATERIALS

Next, walk through the basement and make a detailed list of materials you will need. Be sure to take into consideration such things as treated lumber and mold-resistant drywall, and remember that you may need electrical wiring, a heat source and a new breaker box. If you are not experienced in remodeling, you may want to take the list to a professional contractor to make sure that you have not left anything out. Once you know what you need, spend some time researching prices so you can get a good idea of what each item costs.

STEP FIVE: GET SOME ESTIMATES

Unless you are planning to do all the basement finishing work yourself, you will need to add labor into the cost of finishing a basement. Contact several different contractors in your area and ask each of them for an estimate of the job. Get references from every contractor, then contact the references and ask to see the work that he did for them. Also, compare the bids against each other to make sure that they all include the same things. If you are not sure, ask the contractors; they should be able to tell you if there is anything included their bid that is not included in another contractor's estimate.

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