How to finish your basement

How to finish your basement

So you already asked yourself the 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Finishing Your Basement now it is time to get started. These steps occur in this general order, although they can overlap.

1) Clean Out Your Basement

Before you begin or bring in experts, you need to remove all the junk from your basement. Clear away all the boxes, bins, trash, and appliances before getting started.

2) Insulation

The key to insulating basement walls is selecting insulating materials that stop moisture and prevent mold. Basements are the perfect location for foam or cellulose type products.

3) Floor Joist

Probe for rot and insect damage in floor joists, rim and header joists, the sill plate, and wood-framed windows. Check to see if floor joists are sagging by climbing a ladder until you’re nearly eye level with the underside of the joists. Look across them, see if any are out of line.

How to finish your basement

4) Framing

Framing a basement can be a challenge for intermediate level fixer-uppers, you may want to call in a professional to ensure the job is done correctly.

5) Window Wells

Prefab wells made from fiberglass or another faux-stone material are best. Be sure to top them off with a cover for safety, but also make sure the covers can be removed easily by a young child to encase of an emergency.

6) Staircase

You want to make sure your stairs down to the basement is to code. Keep heights below code maximum, and make sure they don’t differ in height by more than ⅜ inch.

7) Space Around Mechanicals

Whether you’re moving equipment or boxing it in, make sure people can fit around mechanicals for upkeep, Plan about 2 to 3 feet of clearance.

8) Electrical

Yes, you can do your own electrical if you are comfortable in doing so. You may want to get a professional electrician to help you out if you are not too sure what to do.

How to finish your basement

9) Lighting

Recessed lighting is a great option; just remember they will broadcast light in a cone shape that’s wider at the base. If you’re going to use them, space them closer together to avoid dark spots. Note: Divide the ceiling height by 2 to get the maximum distance between light.

10) Plumbing

Yes, you can do your own plumbing as well. If you are not comfortable, get a professional plumber to help you out. Do not forget to insulate your pipes before boxing them in.

11) Audio & Visual

For very little money, you can pre-wire your basement for your home theater system.

12) Soundproofing

To soundproof your basement ceiling by adding fiberglass batts without a vapor barrier between the joists, then add drywall. This will help eliminate vibration and thus minimizing sound travel. You can also place your mechanical equipment on top of sound-dampening mats.

13) Drywall

Drywall can be tricky if you have never done it before so, you may want to hire a contractor. There are not enough savings to make it worth it . If you do wish to do it yourself, try USG’s Sheetrock Brand Mold Tough Gypsum Panels or Georgia-Pacific’s nonpaper-faced DensArmor Plus High-Performance Interior Panels. They both got the highest scores when tested for mold resistance.

14) Painting

This is easy but time-consuming; you want to use waterproof paint on the interior walls. Try cutting down on paint time by getting a bigger 12” roller.

15) Trim and Doors

Give your basement a more finished look by adding trim. You will not regret it when you go to sell your home later on.

16) Flooring

Hard materials like tile and concrete tend to outperform soft materials like a carpet in basements. Inorganic materials work also are better in basements than organic materials such as tile, concrete, and vinyl. Inorganic materials may grow mold, but they will not deteriorate like organic materials.

How to finish your basement

17) HVAC

You may need additional HVAC work. Have a pro check fuel-burning equipment and your house’s ventilation system to ensure that you won’t have carbon monoxide buildup below grade.

Need Help or have questions about 17 Steps To Finishing Your Basement? Contact Us online at or give Us a call at 1 (503) 3357-8810. From concept to completion, we provide full remodeling services. Let’s Build It!

How to finish your basementKurt Kopp is a dedicated professional with a commitment to excellence. He is a master builder of over 35 years of experience that strives to deliver the highest quality product to his valued customer.

Before you jump into converting the unused living space under your home into a finished basement, you'll want to pause and approach the renovation with a few clear goals. Here, Michael DiMartino, the Senior Vice President of Installations at Power Home Remodeling, shares what you really need to know about the process—including the step you should take right now if you have "finishing the basement" on your agenda.

Understand your goals.

Before you begin any home remodeling project, you should first understand what your goals are—and what you'd ultimately like to do with the space. "The most important first step before is to make sure that you (and your partner) are aligned on goals," DiMartino explains. "Have a conversation with all parties of your household to solidify the intended use of the final room." Everyone should be on the same page right off the bat; conversations might need to be had if one person is expecting the project to result in an at-home theater and another wants more of a general recreational space.

Set a budget.

This is critical: Take a hard look at your finances to determine how much you can afford to set aside for this project. Then make sure that you'll have extra money to spare should problems arise. "Homeowners unfortunately run into a disconnect on what they envision as the end result and what they can actually afford," he says. "For example, running into a plumbing issue might cost you $25,000 alone—which is what a homeowner might have budgeted for an entire project from start to finish." A lot of the time, notes DiMartino, handy homeowners can tackle their own drywall and install a Berber carpet, both of which are affordable options with big design impact. "On the contrary, if you are looking to embark on a serious renovation—like an in-law suite, a movie theater, or a home gym—that's where the cost can skyrocket," he adds.

Get several quotes.

Vet several businesses before you settle on your contractor, DiMartino advises. "My rule of thumb is to always inquire with at least three different professionals," he explains. "This will likely give you choices on what a lower end, middle, and high budget could result in."

Be patient.

Once you have your contractor lined up, the fun really begins—but a full-blown basement renovation takes time, so patience is key. "It's always tough to estimate timing for an average project, given that no two homes or projects are the same," he says, adding that the schedules of your contractors can also impact the completion target. "If you are looking to finish a simple space that doesn't pose any unforeseen issues, and have a team of experts that are readily available, you could complete framing, insulation, drywall, paint, flooring, and lighting projects in roughly two weeks," he says. "Anything related to permitting or to your systems—HVAC, electrical, plumbing—will take the longest out of the bunch." And don't forget—reputable contractors go through stages of approval, inspection, and passing that inspection, all of which can prolong a project timeline.

17 May, 2021

David Perrotti

4 min read time

How to finish your basement

Remodeling your basement is a great project. You can dramatically change the flow of your home and increase your practical living space. You might be able to create a separate living area for your college students, your parents, or future tenants. Of course, the first thing you’ll want to know is the cost. Although there are a lot of factors involved in finishing or renovating a basement, you can get some basic figures to help you plan.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement in CT ?

The average cost to finish a basement is $15 to $50 per square foot, depending on the condition of your basement and what you hope to accomplish. Keep in mind that the actual cost of finishing may not include much more than framing, walls, flooring, electrical wiring, and HVAC. Custom millwork , high-end flooring options, and plumbing lines can cost extra. If you already have the walls in place, the price to refinish a basement may be significantly different. It’s important to get a detailed estimate so that you know what you’re paying for.

Not sure what your budget ought to be? Our consultation process helps you define what you expect from your basement remodel and provides a much more precise estimate.

How to finish your basement

What Is Considered a Finished Basement in CT?

If you’re not sure whether you have a finished basement, there are a few ways you can tell. If you’re hoping to finish your basement as part of increasing your overall home value, you must have these factors at a minimum. A finished basement needs access to the home’s HVAC system, particularly for heating and ventilation. You must have walls that aren’t made of concrete, and flooring that isn’t bare concrete or plywood. The basement itself needs a permanent means of access, although it doesn’t necessarily require an exterior door.

What Should I Consider for My Basement Remodel?

From home offices to second kitchens, there are only a handful of limitations in the ways that you can remodel your basement. It mostly depends on your home, your budget, and how you plan to use the basement. You can always browse through our projects to get ideas. We’ll highlight a few of the most popular options.

Second Kitchen

If you’re tired of going upstairs to get food, or you just want to keep the teens from making a mess in your space, a second kitchen is a perfect solution. You’ll spend about $20,000 to $50,000 for this project, depending on the size. A second kitchen is also a great way to maximize your basement without necessarily converting it to a separate living space.

Bathroom Addition

When you are looking for ways to make your basement more like the rest of your home, a bathroom addition is an excellent place to start. You can expect to pay $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the level of finish in your basement, plumbing requirements, and more.

Laundry Room Addition

Laundry rooms make an ideal space for treating, washing, folding, and ironing your clothes. For about $10,000 to $15,000, you can get an enclosed room with a sink, storage, and places to hang your pressed clothes before you take them to the closet.

Basement Bars

Adding a bar to your basement is a great way to enjoy a drink without having to build a whole kitchen. A custom home bar costs about $5,000 to $20,000, not including the costs to finish the basement.

How to finish your basement

Separate Apartment/In-Law Suite

If you don’t use your basement as much as you’d like, it is worth thinking about converting it to an in-law suite. This project runs about $50,000 to $150,000. In-law suites are so popular because they offer the ability to house multiple generations without compromising privacy. You can also make it completely separate, so you can rent it out.

What Is the Most Expensive Part of Finishing a Basement ?

The most expensive part of finishing a basement is often the framing. Lumber prices vary widely from one year to the next, and all-wood frames require a lot more than you may think. If you’re going from a completely unfinished basement to a fully finished one, you can expect this aspect to be one of the biggest single costs. If your basement already has framing, and you’re not significantly changing the layout, the highest expenses may depend on the project. New kitchens and bathrooms typically cost more than family rooms.

Of course, if you are dealing with other complicated aspects of basement remodeling in Connecticut, your budget may need to be somewhat higher. Basements in older homes often have low ceilings. If you’d like to raise it up so you can build formal bedrooms or an in-law suite, you can expect to pay an additional $5,000 to $15,000.

How Much Does It Cost to Renovate a 1000 sq ft Basement ?

With a range of $15 to $100 per square foot for most basement remodeling projects, you can expect to pay $15,000 to $100,000 for a 1,000-square-foot basement. Your price will depend on a lot of factors, including the existing finish level of the basement and your renovation plans.

For the best experience, you should start with an experienced building and remodeling company like Fine Home Contracting. We maintain a level of care that sets us apart, with attention to detail that you can see in every aspect of your basement remodel. Contact us to get started or find out if we remodel in your area.

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  • How to finish your basement

To any family, a basement is a useful addition. But unfortunately, many homeowners neglect to finish the space because they believe that it will be a tedious project. The truth is, you can complete a lot of the renovation work on your own, and the perks will totally be worth the time, money, and effort you put toward it.

Don’t let this perfectly good area go unused! It is time to start utilizing this part of your home—below, we explain five reasons why homeowners should finish their basements.

A Finished Basement Boosts Comfort

Most unfinished basements are cold and damp. However, after employing contractors to install insulation, you will notice that your basement feels more comfortable. In the summer months, this area will stay cool, and in the winter it will be warm. Since a finished basement regulates temperatures, you are also much less likely to find mold, pests, and excess moisture in this area of your home. The air quality is also much better in a finished basement than an unfinished one.

On the same hand, you will have the freedom to decorate your finished basement exactly to your taste. In turn, your basement will feel more like an additional room in your home rather than an unwelcoming lower level. Overall, your comfort is reason enough to tackle a basement renovation project.

It Saves You Money in The Long Run

Additionally, a finished basement will save you money. Typically, because unfinished basements don’t have sealing, you need rely solely on your air conditioner and heater to adjust your basement’s temperature. When you finish your basement, your appliances won’t have to work as hard, ultimately saving you money on your energy bills. Also, additions above ground will often cost more than a finished basement. This is because, unlike a new room that contractors have to build from scratch, they don’t have to add to the exterior of the house. Instead, they are reimagining a preexisting space.

Basements Can Be Additional Living Spaces

A finished basement allows you to better accommodate your family and friends when they need a place to stay. You can transform either a portion of your basement or the entire lower level into the ultimate guest suite. Imagine a private, spacious environment that features a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and sitting area—your guests are going to love it! When your loved ones know that you have a separate space waiting for them, they are certain to visit your home more often. If you’d like, and if you have the amenities, you can even rent out your basement. This easily offsets renovation costs. Once you pay off this project, you can put rent money toward mortgage payments or other expenses.

It Adds Value to Your Home

Although a home improvement project can be expensive, it is worth the initial cost in the long run. In fact, HomeAdvisor mentions that “the average basement remodel project can have up to a 70% return on investment.” Simply put, if you plan to put your home on the market, and you have a finished basement, it will look more attractive to prospective buyers. This is because the buyer won’t have to worry about renovating the basement since you already put in the work. A finished basement also helps to modernize an older home; contractors can add newer features to it, drawing in more interest. Therefore, you need to trust that you will make up the money you spend on finishing your basement, as your property’s resale value will likely skyrocket. To buyers, a basement renovation project can be just as enticing as a bathroom or kitchen remodel, so don’t rule it out if you have the time and the funds.

You Have More Space

When you finish your basement, you have the freedom to use this space for whatever you want. For instance, you can dedicate the entire floor to storage; a place to put aside family keepsakes, old furniture, seasonal decorations, and unwanted belongings that you plan to donate. Especially if you have a large family, a basement is essential for all the items you will collect over the years. This way, you won’t have to crowd the rooms you are using upstairs—you can neatly organize everything in one place.

If your family room isn’t large enough to host parties, perhaps you can use your basement as an entertainment hub. It can be an ideal location for a kids’ playroom, an at-home movie theater, a home bar, and other exciting options. Furthermore, some homeowners finish their basement and turn it into a quiet office—a peaceful retreat away from the commotion happening upstairs. Others finish their basements to create their own convenient home gyms. After all, once it’s finished, this space can effortlessly house a variety of equipment. Finally, numerous homeowners will use their basement for laundry because they have a generous amount of space for appliances. As you can see, the possibilities are practically endless! No matter what you want to do with your finished basement, you can relax knowing you are putting this space to good use.

To conclude, it is evident that your basement should not be the last of your priorities, so go ahead and finish it. Once you decide to give your basement a new life, you will need to shield it from natural forces to ensure it lasts. For long-lasting beauty and protection against the elements, call The Real Seal. We offer basement waterproofing in Chicago, IL; our licensed and insured staff will make sure your basement stays dry. From foundation crack repair to window well installation, we provide a host of services to effectively seal up your home for good. Our experts take pride in their work, as they have many years of industry experience under their belts. They will arrive at your residence on time, correctly fix the issues at hand, and clean up after they are done. If you want to book reputable basement waterproofing services, contact us today to set up an appointment!

Transforming your basement from unfinished to finished is not a no-brainer. Here’s what to consider when deciding whether to turn your utilitarian basement into a more comfortable living space.

By Michelle Ullman | Published Oct 15, 2020 10:21 AM

How to finish your basement

While not all homes have basements—they are more common in cold-winter northern and Midwestern states where house foundations need to extend below the frost line—if you’re lucky enough to have this bonus underground space, then you should be sure it’s being used effectively.

If your unfinished basement mostly serves as a repository for old furniture and out-of-season holiday decorations, you are potentially wasting what could be additional living space. A finished basement is as versatile as you want it to be, but while the benefits are many, it’s true that there are also drawbacks. Here’s what to consider if you are thinking of finishing your basement.

Pro: It increases your home’s value.

If you’re thinking of selling your home in the near future, you want to do everything you can to increase its value. A finished basement is one way to accomplish that goal, as most potential buyers love the idea of a bonus room that they can use in multiple ways. Of course, even if you don’t plan on selling anytime soon, making the most of your home’s usable space also boosts its livability value to you.

Con: You might not recoup all of your expenses.

While it’s true that remodeling an unfinished basement increases your home’s value, it’s also true that you are unlikely to recoup 100 percent of your expenses. As a general rule, the increase in value only covers roughly 70 percent of what you spent on the makeover. Still, that’s a good return on investment for most home sellers.

How to finish your basement

Pro: The room can be whatever you want it to be.

Your bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom each have established uses that don’t vary much, but a finished basement is open to whatever you want to use it for. If you’ve been wishing for a home office, workout space, craft room, or even a more pleasant and organized spot for storage, you can have it. Of course, you can also design the room for more than one purpose, by designating separate areas for different uses.

Con: Basements can be dark.

Not surprisingly, a room that typically has few and small windows is going to lack natural light. That means your finished basement might not be the greatest spot for houseplants, but you don’t have to resign yourself to living in the dark. Plan for a variety of lighting sources to keep your newly renovated space bright—aim for overhead lighting and at least two lamps, depending on the size of the basement. If you’re planning to use the space as a bedroom, keep in mind that many building codes will require adding an egress window for safety.

How to finish your basement

Pro: It’s a great spot for noisy activities.

Neighbors complaining about your rambunctious toddler, teenager learning to play the drums, or loud parties? Once you take your noisy activities underground into your finished basement, those complaints should evaporate. A basement’s subterranean location naturally muffles sound, making it the perfect spot for loud activities that might otherwise bother your neighbors, or even other family members inside your home.

Con: Moisture can be a problem.

Thanks to being underground, moisture and basements tend to go hand in hand. The struggle with basement humidity, and the resulting mold and musty odor, is a real one for many homeowners. If your basement regularly has humidity levels above 50 percent, your remodel should include the purchase of a basement dehumidifier to keep the moisture under control.

Pro: It might be the only way to expand your home’s size.

Many homeowners want or need more square footage—maybe you have a baby on the way or need a home office—but often, expanding outwards or upwards is constrained due to the home’s design, the lot size, or restrictive local ordinances. By finishing an existing basement, you bypass those concerns, adding usable space without actually increasing the size of your home.

Con: It will be harder to access plumbing lines.

One advantage to an unfinished basement is that it’s generally easy to access plumbing and electrical lines when there’s a problem. Once you finish the walls and ceiling, reaching pipes or wires often requires cutting through the drywall. You can minimize this, however, by installing removable panels over important plumbing and electrical access points, then painting the covers to match the wall or ceiling.


Cost to Finish a Basement

Finishing a basement costs roughly $20,000, but the total price can range from a few thousand dollars to as much as $80,000 depending on the size and style of the space. Cleaning out cobwebs and covering up concrete may seem like simple DIY projects, but creating livable, appraisable square footage requires the help of licensed professionals. Waterproofing, egress windows and even ceiling height all count toward the rate of return on your basement investment.

NOTE: The beginning half of 2021 has seen an unprecedented labor shortage as a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. In conjunction with this, demand for materials and construction jobs has skyrocketed. As a result, material prices may be higher than those reported in this article, and lead times may be longer than usual for both labor and materials.

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Average Cost to Finish a Basement

*Costs per square foot

Costs of Finishing a Basement Breakdown

Like most home remodeling projects, how much you pay depends on the quality of the plot and existing structure. Before you build your budget, take a look at this summary of basement finishing expenses.


Finishing a basement involves electrical and possibly plumbing work, and if you plan to add a bathroom or bar, those systems usually require permits. Your basement will probably also need to pass a safety inspection. Budget approximately $1,600 for the necessary permits and inspections.


Unless you plan to DIY, labor will make up approximately 40% or more of your basement remodeling costs. You’ll likely want to hire a general contractor to help oversee the job. Always compare quotes to ensure the best price and service.

Here are other types of contractors you’ll likely need to finish your basement:

  • Framers and drywall installers
  • Insulation installers
  • Flooring installers
  • Window specialists
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Foundation repair specialists
  • Painters
  • Materials
Type of Work Cost

Basement Waterproofing Cost

One of the biggest ticket items for this project is waterproofing your basement, ringing in at around $4,500. Pumping water out of your basement after a flood or storm can cost up to $10,000. Waterproofing the space will also help protect it from hazardous and costly mold and mildew remediation.

Cost to Build a Basement Ceiling

Drywall ceilings start at about $1,600, or $2 per square foot. Basement bands or music lovers should invest in acoustic ceiling tiles which average about $4 per square foot. Drop ceilings average $3.50 to $4.30 per square foot. This allows for easy access to the HVAC and electrical systems.

Basement Drywall Costs

Hanging drywall in your basement costs about $2,000 and transforms it from a cold, concrete block to a comfortable living space. Contractors typically include the cost of installation in the roughly $15 per-panel price. For a warm, dry basement, you’ll want to install waterproofing and insulation underneath the drywall.

Basement Flooring Installation Costs

The cost to install floors while finishing a basement averages around $3,000, but depends on the material, style and quantity for your project. Basement flooring needs to be moisture-resistant or waterproof to protect it from humidity and moisture buildup. Read more about which types of flooring are best for basements to determine which is best for your budget.

Epoxy has become a popular, waterproof flooring solution used in basements and garages. It costs about $3 to $7 per square foot and takes one to three days to pour and cure. The final product can look like a vibrant custom color or mimic marble.

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Cost to Finish a Basement Bathroom

Adding a bathroom to your finished basement plans will cost you between $10,000 and $30,000. Wide price ranges stem from variable costs like the linear feet of plumbing pipes needed, plumber’s labor fees, the highly customizable cost of toilets, showers and tubs, as well as moisture-wicking ventilation and waterproofing.

It’s helpful to also learn about the general cost to remodel a bathroom.

Cost to Finish a Basement Bedroom

The cost to finish a basement bedroom tends to be much lower than a bathroom. Once you’ve installed an egress window, a basement bedroom only costs as much as the dividing walls, storage, flooring, lighting, paint and furniture you choose.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does a finished basement have to have an egress window?

Yes, most finished basements require an egress window to be considered up-to-code. Egress windows are one of several requirements that a finished basement must include to be counted as “livable square footage” that you can claim during resale. Talk to your contractor or check building codes in your area for more details about the necessary egress dimensions, height from the floor and other safety measures.

Can you finish a 7-foot basement?

Most area building codes require a finished basement to be 7 feet tall. To achieve this, the unfinished basement will need to be taller than 7 feet. Request a consultation from experienced local contractors to see if your basement is eligible for finishing.

How much does it cost to finish a staircase?

Many unfinished basements also have old, creaky stairs without risers. The cost to install a finished staircase ranges from about $2,000 to $5,000. The cost of railings depends on the material (metal, wood or glass) and style you choose.

Will finishing my basement increase my home’s resale value?

It’s hard to say how finishing a basement will affect your resale value. Appraisers who use Fanny Mae’s book won’t count finished basements at all. Other sources estimate that the ROI is about 70%. Walkout and garage basements are appraised differently than fully-below-grade basements.

While you’re adding comfortable square footage by finishing your basement, below-grade space doesn’t add as much value as square footage added at or above ground level. In order to be appraised as “livable,” finished basements must meet several building code guidelines including ceiling height, egress windows and more.

Consult local appraisers or agents to learn how finishing your basement will affect your home’s resale value.

As the weather changes, temperatures drop, and winter starts to set in, opening up your home for construction may be the last thing on your mind. But, winter can be a great time to remodel and improve your home, especially when it comes to interior remodeling work. Why wait another season to finish your basement or remodel it into a great living space? Here are a few reasons why winter is a great time to finish your basement:

1. Improved Energy Efficiency

If your basement is unfinished, it can be an uncomfortable place in the winter and contribute to energy loss in your home. If you haven’t been able to fit it in earlier in the year, winter is a great time to finish your basement.

A good contractor will use methods to contain their work, prevent energy loss, and ventilate properly to ensure your home remains comfortable and safe while they work in your basement. This ensures less disruption for you and your family while your home is being improved.

One of the biggest benefits of finished basements is improved energy efficiency for your home. Finished basements offer better insulation and more comfortable space. By getting this remodeling project done during the winter months, you can start enjoying those benefits sooner and make sure you have a comfortable space to use once spring rolls around.

2. Greater Contractor Availability

Outside of abnormal market surges, home improvement contractors tend to be busier in spring and summer. It’s a common misconception that the spring and summer are better suited for construction and renovation. Although this is generally true for exterior work, there is still a lot of opportunity for interior remodeling work during the colder months.

With things normally slowing down in winter, this can mean greater contractor availability in the fall and winter. This can mean that scheduling conflicts are not an issue and you will not need to delay your project while you wait for availability. Whether it’s finishing your basement or tackling another one of the popular winter home improvement projects, winter can be a great time to get things started.

3. Faster Permits and Inspections

Because winter is traditionally a slower time of year in construction and remodeling, there can be a shorter wait time when it comes to obtaining permits and inspections. A good home improvement contractor will handle the permits and inspections for you, but you will still be able to benefit from the normal seasonality associated with construction and remodeling.

4. No Disruption to Holidays

If your basement is unfinished, it’s likely not an area that you use during the holidays or use much at all during the winter. This is one of the reasons why winter is a great time to finish your basement.

If you are planning to go away for the holidays, contractors can work on your basement remodeling project with no disruption to your plans. If you plan to stay home during the holidays, you don’t have to worry about disruption to your plans or your day-to-day activities. The basement is a contained area and you can still enjoy the rest of your home without having to worry about not being able to use the space.

These are just a few reasons why winter is a great time to finish your basement. If you’re ready to finish your basement or remodel it, contact Zephyr Thomas at 717-399-4708 to start your free quote!

Take a look at the Zephyr Thomas team remodeling a basement in the video below!

How to finish your basement

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A finished basement increases your home’s usable space, but taking it from concrete and cobwebs to a comfy hangout spot may be pricier than you think.

The cost to finish a basement and turn it into a livable space ranges from $6,500 to $18,500 on average, according to analysis by Home Advisor. Basement remodeling projects — to improve or replace existing features — tend to cost between $10,000 and $30,000.

Your basement finishing costs could fall anywhere on the spectrum, depending on room size, where you live and how extensive the improvements are.

Find out what factors affect the cost to improve a basement and how to keep expenses under control.

Breaking down the cost to finish a basement

Finishing, remodeling or renovating: While contractors might see subtle differences, all three terms describe a basement improvement project.

No matter what you call it, finishing typically involves adding walls, a floor, electricity and lighting so the basement is ready for habitation, says Bryan Sebring, a certified graduate remodeler and owner of Sebring Design Build in Naperville, Illinois.

Flooring and wall coverings like paneling are the biggest expenses, making up approximately 15% of the total cost to finish a 1,200 square-foot basement, Sebring says. Plumbing and electricity are next, at around 14% and 11% of the cost, respectively, while interior carpentry needs — like trim and railings — account for about 10%. Remaining costs may include things like drywall and insulation, cabinets and countertops, painting and even cleanup.

Exact costs will vary depending on basement size, whether extra features like a bathroom or wet bar are included, and how fast you want the job completed, Sebring says. And that’s assuming your unfinished basement is in good condition.

It’s important to have your basement inspected for foundation and drainage issues before finishing. If an inspection reveals water damage or the risk of water seepage, basement waterproofing and possibly foundation repair will likely add to the cost.

How to plan your basement finishing project

Consider needs and neighborhood

Do you want a place for the kids to hang out after school, or are you dreaming of a state-of-the-art man cave? The way you’ll use the space will dictate how extensive the improvements need to be.

Look at other houses in the neighborhood as well, says Nick Yahoodain, president of Advanced Builders & Contractors in Los Angeles. If unfinished basements are common in your market, improving other areas of the house might be a smarter investment.

Set a budget

Make a list of the features you absolutely need, then add a few things you’d like. Once you’ve decided what you’re willing to spend, talk to a contractor. That discussion should help you separate realistic improvements from the upgrades that will bust your budget.

It’s not uncommon to spend 15% to 20% of the home’s value on a basement improvement project, Sebring says. He cautions against spending more unless you’re sure you’ll live in the house for more than five years.

Think about ROI

Yahoodain considers the effect on value to be the “golden rule” when it comes to home improvements. Will a finished basement help you rent or sell your home in the future? If the answer is no, your money might be better spent in another part of the house, he says.

Though basements — even finished ones — don’t usually add square footage to your home for appraisal purposes, they can have a positive impact on marketability. A basement finished to include a bathroom, bar area and living space recoups around 70% of its cost in improved resale value, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report.

Hire the right pro

In many cases, basement finishing is best left to professionals, but choosing a contractor requires some research. Take the time to:

Request estimates from more than one contractor to avoid overspending

Read verified reviews of each pro and the materials they suggest

Ask for past customer referrals and find out if their projects were finished on time and within the original budget

Check with your local building department or state consumer protection agency to be sure potential contractors are properly bonded, licensed and insured

Make your finished basement more affordable

1. Keep it simple

Opt for standard materials and fixtures instead of custom features to avoid premium prices. And resist the urge to add features that require expensive plumbing or electrical work like a wet bar or home theater system.

2. Opt for open space

Unless you have a genuine need for an enclosed workshop, office or exercise room, leave the space open. Carving your basement into separate rooms means paying for additional studs, electrical wiring, drywall and doors, and limits the ways you can use the space.

3. Choose carpet

Hardwood, laminate and tile flooring significantly increase the cost to finish a basement. Sebring, who calls carpet “the king of basement flooring,” says many people are scared about the consequences if a carpeted basement floods. But even top-of-the-line vinyl and tile has to be pulled up if there's serious water damage, he says, and you can replace carpet multiple times for the same cost of installing hard flooring once.

4. DIY (with caution)

All but the most skilled and motivated homeowners should leave basement finishing to the experts. “You run the risk of not understanding the building codes and having to tear it out and redo it,” Sebring says. Hiring subcontractors and managing the job on your own, rather than hiring a general contractor, could save some cash, but be prepared to treat it like a full-time job, he says.

About the author: Beth Buczynski is an editor at NerdWallet. Her work has been featured by The Associated Press and Money magazine, among others. Read more