Say goodbye to creaky, creepy, and leaky, and hello to fashionable, functional, and comfortable. Remodeling a basement can add tons of value to your house — and not just in the monetary sense. In addition to creating more usable living space for your family to enjoy, a remodel can also improve the overall function and look of your home. But is a basement renovation worth it? And how do you go about doing it? Better yet, how much is it going to cost?
Let’s start with the first question.
Is It Worth Finishing a Basement?
Absolutely! For most of us, when we think of a basement, we think of a plain ol’ storage space or laundry room, but this underrated area has so much more potential than that. It could be an additional guest room, home office, or workshop. Maybe an in-house movie theater, private library, or family game room. A home gym is a great option, too. Regardless of which of these basement renovation ideas you decide to run with, by finishing your basement, you’ll be adding usable space and valuable square footage to your home. It’s a win-win!
Need more convincing? A basement renovation has the potential to add significant value to your house. If you’re planning to sell soon, a finished basement can mean the difference between full asking price (or more!) and a lowball offer. And the return on investment (ROI)? It’s up to 80 percent. More on that later, though.
|Pro Tip: Your basement remodeling ideas don’t only have to include family uses. You can use your remodeled basement as a source of extra income. Inflation might be slowing down, but homeowners are still feeling the impact. For extra cash, you can rent out your newly finished space or even set up a small business space.
Before you start picking out paint colors, it’s important to assess your home’s foundation situation.
What To Know Before Remodeling Your Basement
- Get your home’s foundation checked. Assessing its condition can give you a good foundation (pun intended) before starting any major renovations.
- Identify code violations. You’ll likely need to bring a pro in for this step, but it’s a necessary expense. The last thing you want is to find out after renovating that something is violating local residential building codes and needs to be redone. They’ll be able to not only identify potential violations, but they’ll also know how to fix them.
- Determine your permitting requirements. Every house and housing community is different, so do your due diligence and find out what you need to get started. Eliminate water issues. Find and repair all leaks. And refresh piping, if necessary.
- Check for efficiency. Insulate properly — especially if you’ll be using your basement space as a guest suite or workspace.
- Assess the ceiling. If you notice sagging or spots, there’s likely something going on behind the scenes. Falling victim to basement water damage is something you don’t want to have to fix after it’s gone too far.
- Plan out your remodel on paper or digitally. It’ll give you a clear idea of what you plan to change in the space. It’s also a great way to estimate the required materials for the project.
What Costs the Most When Finishing a Basement?
In a nutshell, flooring and wall paneling cost the most when finishing a basement. More specifically, to frame basement walls (before drywall and insulation), you’re looking at about $7-$16 per square foot with a carpenter’s help. Once you tack on drywall, that’s another $2 per square foot (about $3,000 for 1,500 square feet), plus another $2-$6 per square foot to finish the ceiling off, as well. For floors, the average range is quite varied. You’re looking at between $1,500 and $4,500 in total, depending on the square footage of your space and quality of flooring you want.
And looking at your basement remodeling cost overall, the average cost to finish a basement is between $2,800 and $9,200 for a 400-square-foot space, all the way up to between $10,500 and $34,500 for a 1,500-square-foot space.
The good news? On average, in the U.S., a basement remodel has an ROI of 50 to 80 percent. And in the future, when you sell your home, having a finished basement can help you get a better offer.
|Q: How much does it cost to finish a 1,000-sq.-ft. basement?
A: According to Architectural Digest, finishing a 1,000-sq.-ft. basement can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $23,000. That’s why you should decide on an overall budget beforehand, but be sure to also break it down into chunks for each part of your basement renovation. Tracking your expenses closely can help keep costs down, even if you are likely to go over, at some point.
If you’re handy, want to save some money, and have the time to spare, DIYing parts of your renovation is a great way to get the best bang for your buck.
What Is the Cheapest Way To Remodel a Basement?
Sure, hiring a contractor is the easy way to go, but it’s also the most expensive. If you’re handy with a hammer and have the time to DIY some parts of your remodel, you can save thousands of dollars along the way.
Tackle these simple DIY budget basement remodel ideas:
Refinish Your Walls
Simple drywall with a coat of paint will work just fine, or you can install paneling for a minimal, high-end look. Simply use strong adhesive to fix strips of wood to your basement’s concrete walls. Then attach the paneling to those wood strips using wood screws to match the panels. This makes it easy to remove panels later, if you ever need to access the pipes or wires hidden behind them.
Take on the Floors
If your concrete basement floors are in decent condition and you don’t mind the look of them, you can simply add an area rug or two. Try waterproof or outdoor versions for easy cleaning. Rubber or foam tiles can work well, too, if you’ll be using your basement for a playroom or home gym. And if you don’t love the raw concrete look, you can apply your own epoxy finish to make that basement floor renovation really shine (get it?).
Create Statement Ceilings
If your basement has exposed beams, it’s easy to use them to your advantage for an edgy finish. Hang some string lights or use eclectic floor lamps for a boho chic vibe. If you don’t like the look of those beams — and you’re feeling confident — you can drywall your ceilings (not super easy) or create a suspended ceiling (DIY-friendly). Either option will hide exposed beams, ductwork, and pipes. Alternatively, you could install paneling to the ceilings in the same way you did the walls.
Think: Do I Really Need New Stairs?
Depending on the state of your basement stairs, they may simply need a fresh coat of paint to give you that “like new” look. If they’re made of unfinished wood, consider sanding rough spots before painting. And if your staircase is less stable than you’d like (and you feel good about your woodworking skills), you can try adding some stabilizing elements. If not, calling in a professional is always easy.
|Q: Is a basement remodel a good investment?
A: With a return of 50 to 80 percent, a basement remodel can be a great investment when it’s done correctly. It’s also a great way to increase your resale value, and you can even gain another stream of income from it. Your overall plans for the space are going to determine your final answer, however, so be sure to consider all the essentials before you decide to make this investment in your home.
These ideas won’t break your budget, but they will help your basement become a space you love to inhabit.
If you’re not handy, no worries — help is always available. Remember, though: It’s important to find a competent contractor.
Finding Reliable Basement Remodeling Contractors
If you’re not comfortable with DIYing your basement renovations (and understandably so!), definitely use a licensed professional. Sure, you can search online for “basement remodeling companies'' or “basement remodeling contractors,” but don’t just go with the first one you find. Use our guide for how to hire a home remodeling contractor. It has tips for finding a trustworthy and competent professional, as well as a handy list of questions to ask before settling on a contractor for your basement renovation.
Basement Design Trends
Now for the fun stuff! Gone are the days of concrete basements straight out of a horror movie. Just because it’s underground doesn’t mean your basement has to feel like a tunnel — there are plenty of design options for you to make use of that extra living space. Here are five of our favorite ideas.
Home TheaterIf you’re a movie lover, having a home theater is a great way to not only save money but also create the magic of premiere nights right in your own space. Your basement already has better insulation than a lot of other rooms, and they tend to run cold, so cozying up with popcorn and dim lighting is best done here.
You can choose to go all out with sound-proofing, a huge projector screen, and tiered seating with recliners to boot, or you can keep it simple with a large TV and plenty of blankets to pile on during your feature. Either way, skimping on the seating in this design choice isn’t an option.
Cozy LibraryIf you still want a comfy atmosphere without all the theatrics, a home library is another great option. You can keep the same soft, quiet vibes as a home theater but switch them to a place where you find your immersive escape into other worlds through words.
You also still have the opportunity to splurge on seating, but instead of a moviegoing monitor experience, you can put that money into creative shelving and nice lighting that’s easy on the eyes.
Crafting and Hobby SpaceWhether it’s scrapbooking, painting, crafting, knitting, sewing, or all of the above, giving yourself a dedicated space to get creative is great for not only your passions but also for keeping the peace throughout the rest of your home. Getting creative with storage means your family doesn’t have to navigate around your latest project or the items that accumulate with it.
Bonus: This is especially great if you’re looking for small basement remodel ideas, as it doesn’t require a lot of square footage.
If you want to give the kids a space to play, the basement is a great space to do it in. You can ensure safety by including soft furniture and flooring and take extra safety measures like including outlet covers, corner guards, and anchored shelving (or built-ins).
Once everything is good to go, all you need is the fun. Board games, a pool table, ping-pong, and a comfy video game setup is a great way to set the foundation for your remodel design.
Separate SpacesThe best part of a basement remodel is that you can make the most of all of these ideas if you want. You can create separate rooms by putting up divider walls if you wish, or you can make use of furniture to divide one large space up into multiple sections. It’s one of the most simple basement remodel ideas, but it’s also one of the most effective.
How Do You Modernize an Old Basement?
Already have a finished basement, but it needs a makeover? Use these tips to modernize an old basement into your dream space:
Get Creative With the Walls
Perk up that sheetrock by installing some shiplap planks for a cozier vibe. Two or three shiplap walls combined with one or two painted accent walls is an easy way to create a modern look. (Don’t try to force “modern farmhouse” if it doesn’t fit your space — shiplap has a place in modern design, too!) If shiplap isn’t your thing, though, consider textured walls.
Opt for Durable Flooring
LVP (luxury vinyl planking) is still the “in” thing, and it’s super durable, scratch-proof, and waterproof — great qualities for a basement floor. You can also opt for finishes in fun colors or patterns for a retro or whimsical feel.
Modernize Your Lighting
Install recessed lighting in your ceilings or even pendant or statement lighting for bar or kitchenette settings. Want a more stately finish? Leave some of the beams exposed or add faux wood beams around the lighting.
Add Interest to Your Stairs
Finish stairs with matching basement flooring or paint in a coordinating or contrasting shade. Then add LED lighting along the sides to create a clear path, even in dimmer settings. Just try to steer clear of carpeted stairs. Basements can be humid, which isn’t great for carpets.
|Pro Tip: At some point during your basement renovations, you’re going to need to clear it out. This is where PODS comes in. Have a PODS portable storage container delivered right to your driveway and use it as a “temporary” basement to house anything that you need kept out of the way (but close at hand). You can also use it as a workstation to house tools and equipment during your basement remodel. Keep it as long as you need, and when you’re done, PODS will pick it up!
Basements are no longer the dingy, musty storage spaces of years past. They’re becoming an asset to homes everywhere. And your basement renovation doesn’t just have the potential to make you a profit when it’s time to sell. It also has the potential to make a profound impact on the way you and your family live, work, and play. What are you waiting for?
Kiran Bahl is a freelance writer who loves discovering how to make something better yet simpler at the same time. She lives happily and peacefully amongst her family and enjoys dessert every day — especially after meeting a writing deadline early.