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.

Basement Building


So you are finally ready to add to your living space and want to take that empty basement and turn it into something amazing, but you don’t have an idea of where to start.

Do you want to take on this project yourself or hire a company to do all the work for you? The answer lies within you and how much time and skills you have to complete the project.

Even if you decide to do it yourself, you will still most likely need to hire an expert to handle certain parts of the job as there are code requirements and if you are not licensed you might not know all the code requirements that are floating out there.

A good way to discover which parts of the basement project you can do yourself is to start by researching all of the steps in the construction process. This guide we have created will walk you through the steps of finishing your basement from A to Z.

Step 1: Get Your Creative Ideas Flowing

By now you have been down in your basement a few times and maybe even chalked out your rooms you plan on having. Have your thought of everything? Let’s take a look at some rooms that are options for you.

Bedroom – This is one of the most build rooms in a basement and helps increase the overall value of a house. The best thing about a bedroom is you can make it a guest bedroom or one for the kids, when you design this room, you can make as big or small as you like.

 Bathroom – Most basements of 1,200sf or more have at least 1.5 bathrooms, one full and one 1/2 bathroom. If you want a master bedroom down in your basement, you might want to have a private bath and then a 1/2 bath for guests. If you have a 2nd bedroom then maybe a 2nd full bathroom or a Jack and Jill bathroom if for the kids.

Living room – Just about all basements will have some sort of living room/family room area to open up the basement some. This normally will have a couch and a TV. 

Hallways – Don’t forget the hallways, you can do some nice things here. It would be nice if you can make them a bit wider then the standard ones so your not so closed in. Maybe some recessed pockets in the wall for pictures or artwork would set the hallways off nicely.

Bar – If you like to have company over, then you might want to put a bar in. This can be done in any shape or size you like depending on how much you will plan on using it. When you have a bar in your basement, it becomes a great place to entertain people.

Theater – If you love movies you can toss a theater in your basement. This can be made from a basic room to a full-blown soundproof theater for 6-8 people. Depending on your ceiling height 8-9 ft would determine what side of a screen you can have and if you do it right, you can make it look and should better then a movie theater.

Wine Cellar – For the wine lovers having a small wine room maybe the size of a small closet with a glass door and side windows would make a great showcase you can show off. What a great way to use that under-stairs space you have no idea what to do with. 

Want to make it fancier, then add a light sensor at the bottom of the starts so when you come down the stairs it will automatically turn on the wine cellar lights like a night light.

Home Gym/Massage Room – This is nothing more than a large bedroom without a closet, from a building point of view, it’s pretty much the same for the most part. Maybe for the gym, you might want to have a glass panel door to open it up from the outside more and maybe rubber mats on the floor.

Aquarium – If you are on a concrete slab, you can go nuts here. I have seen people build anywhere from a 200 gallon to a 2,000-gallon aquarium for their reef and take their basement and turn it into something amazing.

As you can see, your basement can be anything you want. The only thing that is going to limit you here is your imagination.

Now that you know what you want, you need to know the details. Such as where do you need the walls. Do you want curved walls or not. Do you want to show the doors or hide them as much as you can? 

Step 2: Obtain The Necessary Building Permits

To get a permit to finish your basement isn’t difficult in most cases and isn’t always required but you want to make sure you pull a permit. Yes, there are permit fees and the assessor will add the newly finished basement sf to your property taxes but the benefits of having it permitted outweigh the expense. 

One major benefit of having pulled a building permit is you can contact an inspector at any time during the construction process if you have questions or they can come out and do a walk through with you.

Additionally, if you decide later to sell your home, you will want to provide the certificate from the city showing that everything is safe and up to code. If you don’t have that, it can drastically affect the price you get for your home. 

Furthermore, if you have homeowners insurance and you did not get a permit for your basement and a fire starts in the basement from faulty wiring, the insurance company does not have to pay for it as there is no way you can prove it was inspected like the rest of your house was.

Step 3: The Necessary Prep Work

Since basements are located underground, you can expect there are moisture and water prep work that you want to prepare for. Depending on how old your basement is you may need to waterproof the basement so you don’t have any issues in the future.

This next part is very important, and that is for older basements, you need to check for mold or other toxins that can harm you and your family. Inspect your basement for signs of mold and if you discover any mold, you would need to get a mold test kit from Home Depot or Lowes. Then you can test it and send it off to see what type of mold you might have and how to remove it. 

Another important factor to remember is Radon. Radon is odorless and invisible and can be found in just about any home, no matter the location or the age. 

You want to test your basement for radon and find out if there is a problem. If you do have it, you will want to have a professional come out and fix your Radon issue so that you or your family are not exposed to the harmful gas.

Step 4: Frame the Walls 

Framing Basement

Once you have the layout, you are ready to order your lumber. Where most people go wrong here is they just order the 2×4’s for the walls, but you must remember the top and bottom plate.  

If you are on Concrete it changes things a bit as you need to use pressure-treated wood such as timber strand then space it about 4-6 inches and have a top plate better known as a floating wall. This allows the concrete to expand and contract without putting any stress on the upper level of the house.

Of course, you need your 6-inch spike nails and most building code will require it 24-36 inches apart. Even though code allows you to go up to 24 inches I would recommend you stick to 16 inches on center when framing your walls. This is very important as if you do 15 inches or 17 inches it will throw off your drywall hanging and will cost more in labor and materials later so get it right the first time.

Don’t forget you have to fire block, this is best done with drywall, whereby you seal the top plate to the concrete wall of the ceiling then you can put your 2×4 over that and that would be the fastest way to fire block.  

This needs to be done along the external walls of the basement then you need to add blocking every 10ft around the basement and again 1/2 of drywall works well for this.

The walls around the furnace and unfinished rooms need to be blocked off. If there are small areas you can use cans of spray foam or insulation to pack it.

If you have softies, you need to fire block them every 10 ft as well and at both ends.

Step 5: Install the Plumbing

Plumbing is one of the hardest jobs, but you can do it on your own if you have the tools and knowledge. If you don’t feel ready to take it on, just hire a professional to do the work and focus on other aspects of your basement.

If you are the do-it-yourself person, then the first step is the rough-in plumbing. If you are on concrete, you will want to cut the concrete before you start framing so your lines are already cut before you lay your 2×4’s.

You may also already have pipes in place. If you designed your basement layout around the existing pipes, your job is a lot easier but I have never seen this work as needed.

If you have a floating Floor basement, you will need to access your crawl space to get under there to install the new pipes. Remember, there are codes for everything such as what size pipes to use 1.5 inches for bar and sinks, 3 inches for a toilet, etc, you need to have pee traps installed as well as studier vents for ventilation.

When it’s time to inspect the plumbing, it most likely will need to be under a pressure test. Also, plumbing in-ground will need to have gravel/dirt covering most of the pipe except the top so the inspection can see it. No rocks are allowed to touch the pipe as it can break the pipe.

Most homes are built with Pex pipe these days as it’s flexible and holds connections well and you will need an expander to work with Pex pipe. 

PRO TIP Never use shark bites in the wall no matter what you do.

Step 6: Electrical and HVAC work

This is a step that you could do yourself but most hire someone. This is simply because wiring can be very dangerous if done wrong. Do you know the difference between 12/2 and 14/2 wire? What about 3/2 wire? If not, then don’t even bother.  

Peace of mind says to hire someone to do this for you. Plus most basements will require a sub-panel to be installed and this is a whole different ballgame as with 12/2 you can get a good jolt, but with 3/2 you can get fried.

Also, there are nail plates and staples that need to be used all over the place. Electrical is the easiest inspection to fail for someone who is doing it themselves. An electrician can do your electrical job easily and wire your entire basement safely and efficiently.

The electrician you hire should install all of your switches, outlets, and lighting and after the painting is done, they should come back to hook up the rest of the power and faceplates so you don’t have to worry about that.

HVAC

You most likely have 1-2 runs in your basement already, but depending on what you want to build, it will require more. One per room and maybe more depending on the side of the room. In the bathroom, you need an exhaust fan (fart fan) and they require separate runs. You also have 3, 4, 6-inch pipes for your heat runs so make sure you know what ones you need and where to tie into it at.

Step 7: Finish the Walls

Once you have all of the plumbing, electrical, HVAC taking care of, you’re ready to turn your framed walls into actual walls. As long as all your inspections have passed, it will be time for drywall. If you choose to hang the drywall yourself though it’s very time consuming and heavy to put up for ceilings. Also, it must be accurate, but it can be done with proper knowledge, help, and patience.

Drywall might sound easy, but it can get difficult very fast to get it all just right even more so if you don’t frame the walls right. After the drywall is installed, it needs tape and mud. This is where it becomes an art and you need an artist to do this as if you mess this up, it will show through the texture and you will have to sand till you’re blue in the face. 

This means you will need to make the joint compound very smooth, at least a level 4 finish as now your working on the finished view when before everything you did was being covered up, this is the first step in the finished viewable part.

Once done, you are ready for texture. This is normally a knockdown texture and you can hire a company to come to spray your whole basement for you if you have never done texture before.  

Step 8: Paint

Now you are ready to paint your basement, and if you doing this by yourself, you’ll want to make sure you prime your walls first and don’t use the paint from home depot or Lowes. Get quality paint from Sherman Williams to do the job,  also if you have a paint sprayer that will help put the paint on evenly and will help save you time.

Step 9: Trim Work

Now that you have the basement painted, it’s time for your trim. You can install the switch plates, mirrors, light fixtures, remove your construction lights, and put in your permanent lighting.

Step 10: Flooring

The largest part of your finishing work is the flooring. You have plenty of options here depending on if you are on a floating floor or concrete surface. You can do hardwood, carpet, tile, vinyl, stained concrete etc, the options are endless for you.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have the steps to finish a basement, it’s time to decide if you really want to do it yourself or hire a company. If this is your first time doing something like this, then yes, it sounds like it will save you money but maybe not. 

For example, if you hire an electrician, they might charge you up to 30K to do all the electrical, yet if you get a basement company, they have electricians on staff so that would cost a much less for that part. 

 Hiring a bunch of one-off contractors comes with a steep price, so if you are not able to do it all yourself or at least 90% of it, then your better off in just hiring a company like the Basement Sanctuary to professionally do all fo the work for you so you don’t have to lift a finger and presto, your basement is a masterpiece.

COVID-19

August 4, 2020

Hello everyone,

What a crazy year it has been. I hope are all doing well during this uncertain time. We wanted to let everyone know that we are still running our business and finishing basements as normal. Although, we wanted to let all our future and present customers know of the precautions we are taking as we navigate this pandemic. These precautions include following all CDC guidelines. All staff wearing a mask and keeping hand sanitizer on them at all times. Our office is being cleaned and sanitized frequently and after every appointment. During our lead appointments, we are making sure to not stay in your home any longer than needed to gather the info to provide you with an accurate quote. Our subcontractors are scheduled so no more than one company is in your home at one time. In all our basement finishes, we provide vent covers and have our plastic dust containment on the stairs, that helps block air exchange from the basement to the main level. In addition, social distancing between all staff, customers, and subcontractors, as much as possible. Of course, all staff and subcontractors are to not attend work if they are feeling ill. If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to The Basement Sanctuary. We hope everything goes back to normal soon. Until then, we hope to chat soon about getting a free estimate!

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Forever Home

April 16, 2020

The Basement Sanctuary is excited to announce that we have broke ground on our forever home this past March! Our new office building will be located just across the street from where we currently are located, just north of 52nd and Ward in Arvada. The overall goal and purpose for building a new office is to improve our customer experience while visiting our showroom. Our new office will provide much more opportunities for our expanding company. The biggest enhancement will be a larger showroom, meaning more building material selections to choose from and displays to view. There will be an area for kids to play with games and toys, when joining their parents at our showroom. In addition, a conference room with a large screen TV that you can view 3D renderings and layouts of your basement when working with our designers. To top it all off, we will have a larger shop and storage area, which benefits us and our production processes. Everyone here at The Basement Sanctuary is excited to enter this new chapter. 

TBS

Welcome!

April 16, 2020

Hello everyone! Welcome to the launch of our new and improved website and our first blog post. The Basement Sanctuary is thrilled to be initiating an enjoyable yet informative way to be reaching all of you. We have big plans for the blogs to come. We intend on informing you about who we are as a company, exciting things ahead for us, and basement finishing in general. Along with our monthly blogs, we will be adding more pictures of our basement finish projects. We currently do over 100 basement finishes a year, all different and unique to our customers. We are confident in the quality of our work and want you all to see all the creative and innovative designs we have done for our past customers. We often say that our website gallery and Facebook page, is our own little Pinterest page. Which can be a useful tool to get inspirational ideas, as well as, help recognize what would be functional for you and your family. We hope you follow along our blogs and reach out to us if you have any questions or comments. Or if we already won you over, to start the process of getting a basement finish estimate!