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Top 25 Basement Finishing Questions 2021

If you have a basement in your house your thinking about finishing, there are many questions you might have if this is your first time doing this. Below we have found the top 25 questions people ask about when it comes to this type of construction project, and hopefully, it will help answer some of your questions as well.

  1. How much does it cost to finish a basement in 2021?

    The cost to finish a basement varies significantly based on the cost-per-square-foot and the additions being added to the basement. For example, a basement with just one large open room would be much cheaper than one with a bathroom and a bedroom in it.

    On the low end, and using a licensed contractor, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 – $80 per-square-foot to finish your basement. Though there are times, it can get down to the $20 range, and I have seen some as high as $100 per-square-foot.

  2. How much does it cost to finish a 500 sq ft basement?

    When completing a basement, typically, the rule of thumb is the smaller the basement is, the more expensive the cost is per-square-foot.

    So yes, bigger is better and also less expensive if looking at it from a square-foot. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000. This would cover a bedroom and bathroom or an open room and a bathroom.  

  3. How much does it cost to finish a 1,000 sq ft basement?

    The larger your basement is, the lower the price-per-square-foot becomes. So if you have a 1,000sf basement, it will be cheaper per-square-foot than a 500ft basement. 

    You can expect to pay anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 to finish this space.

  4. How to pay for a basement finishing project?

    When it comes to finishing your basement, most people will either have the funds in the bank or have some credit cards that give points, and they want to collect on the points so that they will use those credit cards.

    Others will get a home equity loan from their bank. You can also ask the contractor if they offer any financing or know of financing options.

  5. Will finishing my basement add value to my house?

    Not only would it add to your house’s size, but it will also add financial value to your home as well. For example, if you have a finished bathroom on average, it will add about $10,000 to your home’s value.  

    If you are selling your home sometime in the next few years, you will want to have an open room like a family room, a bedroom, and 1 to 1.5 bathrooms for starters to get the most value out of your basement.

    On the flip side, if you turn your basement into a large gun range or you have too many non-family additions, you will not get the same value at selling time.

    Once the basement is done, the county assessor will come to your home one day before the end of the year to view your basement and assign a value to it.

    On average, in the United States, finishing a basement will give you a return of 70 to 75% of your investment. For example, if you spent $1,000 on improvements, it would increase the property’s value by about $700. If you spent $10,000 on improvements, it would increase the property’s value by about $7,000.

  6. Is finishing a basement worth it?

    There are plenty of benefits to finishing your basement, from having a lot of extra living space to the overall value of your house going up. When you finish your basement, you add more space based on your needs. 

    Maybe you want another bedroom/bathroom; perhaps you want to add a theater, bar, office, etc. It can create a lot of value and space for you to move around by finishing this space.

  7. Where to start finishing a basement

    There is no better time to start working on your basement than now. More than likely, the contractors will not need to use your front door to enter the basement as they can go through the basement windows or the basement door.

    Most contractors will want to stay out of your living space as much as possible, so they don’t track dirt and debris into your house that they would have to clean up.

  8. What types of flooring do basements have?

    Most basements have either concrete or a floating floor. When you have a floating floor, this means there is about 3ft of crawl space below the basement floor. 

    Cost-wise, basements with floating floors tend to be cheaper than ones with concrete as there is no cutting of the concrete required to run the pipes for plumbing. The plumbers would get in the crawl space and run it all, saving time and money.

  9. How long does it take to finish a basement?

    The standard time it takes to finish a basement is 6-8 weeks. Keep in mind that this can vary by the project size, so give yourself as much time as you need. This is a significant investment and an extensive project, so there is no need to rush it.

    Below is a breakdown of some timelines.

    Framing – 3 to 5 days
    Electrical – 2 to 3 days
    Plumbing – 2 to 3 days
    HVAC – 1 day
    Drywall – 1 to 2 days
    Mudding & Texture 1 week
    Painting – 3 to 4 days
    Flooring – 3 to 4 days
    Trim and Baseboard – 3 days

    This does not account for inspections.

  10. Are permits required to finish a basement?

    Permits are not required, meaning legally, you don’t have to have one, but there are plenty of reasons why you should want one. For example, if there is a fire in your basement from faulty wiring, your insurance company most likely not cover the fire even if the whole house goes up.

  11. Will finishing my basement add to my property tax?

    Yes, this is the only down part about finishing your basement. Once it’s 100% complete and signed off by the inspectors, the assessor office will visit you to appraise your basement, adding to your overall home value and property taxes before the end of the current year.

  12. Hire a contractor or do-it-yourself?

    Doing your basement yourself can save you lots of money, but you have to know what you are doing, or you can end up spending much more than you would have if hired a contractor in the first place.

    Sometimes what starts out sounding good might not end up that way. You have to think about how much time you have to put towards this and all the tools you need to complete it. 

    Often people start something, and then when we get there, it is not up to code, so it has to be taken all out and start all over.

  13. How to find the right contractor?

    When you’re ready to find a contractor, there are a few things to keep in mind. 1 you want to make sure they are licensed with the state and or county. You also want to look for reviews online and go to their office and meet with them. This will give you a good idea as to who you will be working with.

  14. Can I cover my basement windows?

    Depending on how you design your space, you might have a window that is in the way and might want to cover it up. In this case, as long as there are no issues with the inspectors, you can frame over the window to make a solid wall.  

    Remember, you will want to close, lock the window, and put some blinds over it, so it looks like a standard window from the outside.

  15. Do basements contractors offer warranties?

    This varies on each contractor as some will, and some won’t. On appliances installed in your basement, they might void the warranty if not installed by a licensed professional.  

    As far as the basement goes, you will have to ask the contractor if they do and how much of it they cover and how long.

  16. What is required to call a room a bedroom?

    According to most municipalities, you need to have a door, a closet, and a window. If the basement is an in-ground basement, you will need to have a 4 ft window well with a ladder or not pass the inspection.

  17. Do I have enough power for a basement?

    Depending on how big your basement is and what you are planning on putting in there, most likely, you will not have enough power in your current box. 

    Most often, when basements are built, your contractor will have to run a new power box inside your basement to handle that load. You will have enough power coming to the house; it’s just a space issue on your current power box.  

  18. Are there any rules for designing a basement?

    There are plenty, and if you have never been through permitting before then, you will want to get someone who has, such as a contractor. For example, you can not have a bedroom next to your furnace room; your hallways need to be so wide, etc.  

    When designing your basement, you can do a rough draft, but always have a professional come out to look over everything and put it into a blueprint for you.

  19. Do building inspectors check the basement work being done?

    If you pull a building permit, then yes, they will inspect each stage of the construction process. You can also call as request a consultation with an inspector before the work begins to make sure. 

  20. Pro’s and Cons’ of pulling a basement permit

    When it comes to removing a basement permit, the pros are the peace of mind that your basement is being built by code, and once complete, and you have a sound basement.  

    The only con to pulling a permit is once the project is completed, you will have the value of the basement added to your property taxes, causing them to go up.

  21. Will I save money if I hire someone from Craigslist to do my basement?

    Yes, the simple answer here is you will save a ton of money, but the question is, do you want to go that route? 

    Most people from Craigslist are not licensed, and there is a reputation for hiring people on Craigslist. You want to hire someone who has verifiable references and creditable. Please don’t put your big project at risk over a few dollars; it’s not worth it.

  22. What are the difference between ground, garden level, and walkouts?

    A walkout basement is usually for a house built on a slope, so you can have a door going outside on the hill’s low side. A garden level means that the basement is half above grade, so in other words, when you look out the window, you see the outside world and not the inside of a window well. If the garden-level basement is also on a slope, you could have a basement that is both garden-level and walkout in theory.

  23. Can I put a kitchen in the basement?

    If you want to tun part of your basement into a kitchen, you will need to talk to your local city inspectors before you venture down this path. There are a lot of things you have to take into account. For example, if you want a stove and oven, then there are ceiling height requirements you have to deal with. Ventilation issues and more so while it can be done, it would have to be the right space from the start and again. Call your local building inspector and see what all is required before you start to design it.

  24. Can I put a fireplace in the basement?

    If you’re planning to finish your basement, a fireplace is a great idea! Having a fireplace can make up for the lack of natural light. It can also help create a cozy retreat, supply a comfortable source of heat, add atmosphere to your room, provide a focal point in your basement space, and increase your home’s value.

  25. Can you dig out your crawl space?

    People with low ceilings or crawl spaces will often want to have this dugout. This is very common in basements, and before you do, you will need to reach out to the building dept to get clearance to have this area dugout as some locations might not be able to be dug out due to the support of the house.

    Do note, a crawl space dig out is not a cheap project. For example, to dig out a 500 square foot crawl space would cost anywhere between $30,000 and $60,000; this is not the build-out. It’s just to dig out all the dirt, all for an additional 400 square feet of space.

    More than likely, you will need an engineer to come out and draft a letter for you to turn into the city for permitting. All of this is something a contractor can set up and get everything taken care of for you.

    In closing, finishing this part of your house, no matter if it is 500sf or 1,800sf, is a part of your home, and you are free to go wild. Just make sure you have the funds to cover your wildness and please only hire licensed contractors with insurance. 

 You never want to take short cuts when it comes to finishing or refinishing any part of the most significant investment you have.