Home Improvement House & Apartment Ideas

Is Finishing a Basement Worth It? – Costs vs. Value

The basement is usually used as a storage place or left empty, therefore many people decide it isn’t worth investing in getting it finished. And this is a possibly clever idea if your space is a non-walk-out one. This means that it is completely underground, and the possibility of installing a door or full-size windows is inexistent. No one wants to live in a room with poor or no natural light.

On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to own a home with a full-walk-out basement or a partial drop in grade, you can easily turn it into a livable space and add extra square footage to your property. Not to mention that, by covering all the possible cracks and holes and solving the humidity problem, you can reduce mold and pest problems.

But here comes the big question. Will you recover your investment? The costs can reach tens of thousands of dollars, and there’s plenty of work involved. Not to mention the mess and the noise you will need to bear for weeks. However, the value of a remodeled basement can be measured in more than money, this is why we’ve put together all the benefits and drawbacks of having it finished, along with a complex analysis of costs and gains, so read on to find out how the basement “business” works.

Why Should You Finish Your Basement?

Remember where your worse childhood nightmare started? Well, basements have evolved a lot since you were little, and now you may be surprised by what you might find downstairs. Here’s a list of the advantages you could enjoy if you decide to upgrade this space.

You will have more space

You’ve been sitting on an entire suite, but tried to squish your guests in the rooms above every time a holiday brought them into your house.  Now you can use your underground space to build a bedroom, a bathroom, and maybe a living room if it is large enough. Think that, at some moment, you may need your parents to come and give you a hand while raising your children, or you may need to be closer to them as they get older. Getting the basement remodeled is like adding an extra store to your home, only in the opposite direction, and with considerably fewer expenses.

Furthermore, if it is high enough to allow you to build a separate entrance, you could rent it and make some extra money without getting through a lot of bothers. And even if no one is going to live there, you will be able now to store more expensive stuff that otherwise would have been destroyed by moisture or vermin.

Your home will stay safer and comfier

As the walls and the floor are permanently in contact with the ground, it isn’t a surprise that most basements are moist places. Even worse, if the landscape’s grading doesn’t work in your favor, the chances of water gathering around the foundation are far from slim. However, if you start by encapsulating your basement, then add insulation and even use waterproof paint, you can have this room as dry as your above-ground rooms. If you also take care of the main cause and use a basement or the top rated crawl space dehumidifiers to remove the excessive humidity caused by condensation, you will reduce the risk of mold growing in the sensitive spots and sending its toxic spores around the house. Plus, a dry foundation doesn’t develop cracks that could chase potential buyers away in case you decide to sell.

If you buy, you will actually save money

Buying a house that has an already finished basement would cost you more than remodeling yours. So, if you can choose, go for the one with the unfinished basement and take upon yourself to turn it into inhabitable space. Also, make sure to make the remodeling before you actually move in, as once you do, you will need to deal with the noise and mess daily.

You will get more money if you decide to sell

Although basement space is not as valuable as above-ground space, you are offering more rooms, and this is taken into consideration when the price is established. Nonetheless, as we have explained, this depends a lot on the way your basement is built. People appreciate natural light, and they are right not to want to pay full price for a prison that comes with tiny windows, no matter how fancy has it been decorated.

You will spend less on heating

Heat gets out of the house through any cracks and openings it can find. This is the main reason we insulate the walls, so why should the basement be an exception? The renovation will help keep the hot air in, contributing to heating savings. Furthermore, the basement itself will feel warmer in the winter and colder in the summer, so when the heat waves strike, you will be able to find some coolness and peace in your nicely decorated underground leisure place.

You can organize your dream retreat room

If you have ever dreamt of having a home office, a movie theater, or a gym, now it’s time to accomplish it. Raising it above ground will cost you considerably more, as you will have to build the walls and the ceiling. With the basement already built, the only thing you will need to do is to add some improvements and finishing touches and bring in the furniture and equipment. This is a pretty fast job compared with lifting a new construction from the ground, so you will enjoy it sooner.

What Can Hold You Back?

Here are some disadvantages that come with this decision:

The upfront cost is considerable

You will be dealing with major expenses that are rarely fully recoverable. You will need to buy materials and have professionals do the walls and the flooring. If you are building a bathroom or a kitchen, you will need to do the plumbing and have the walls tiled. Furthermore, before adding finishes, you may have to solve humidity problems and mount insulation. The electrical installation will also need to be set up by a professional.

If you are up for a DIY project, you can save some money, but it will take you longer. Not to mention that less money out of your pocket will mean more work from your part, which can prove exhausting if you are working full time in parallel.

You won’t fully recover your investment

Here’s a trap that you should avoid. Some real estate agents will promise you to sell your home at a higher price than it is worth. This often happens of negligence or lack of experience. Your agent may assess the square footage of the entire property and then multiply it with the price that is usually asked for above-ground rooms. This is not how value is calculated. Basements are worth less money than regular rooms, which means that you may have your home overpriced and actually find it more difficult to get it sold.

The truth is that you will never recover your full investment in money unless the market goes through a change and the value of your entire estate grows. But, if you are not looking to sell as soon as the renovation is ready, you will have other gains that have to do with comfort and safety. Not to mention that customers find homes with a remodeled basement more attractive, so, if you price it correctly, you will sell it faster.

How Much Value Can You Expect It to Add to Your Property?

The cost of remodeling can go from 10 dollars to 35 dollars per square foot. This means that your investment can reach an average of 18,000 to 19,000 dollars for a medium-size basement, but you can expect the price to jump way higher, if you are going with high-quality finishes and equip it with first-rate gear. Not to mention that plumbing and other works necessary to build a bathroom can raise the costs even more.

With this in mind, now consider that you will only get back 75 cents per 100 cents you spend. So, there’s no profit here. You will actually not even get all your money back if you sell. This is the reason why it isn’t a very good idea to invest in the basement if you are planning on moving. The only justification for spending all this money arises if you are doing it for your own comfort.


Beautiful basements that have been turned into living spaces make homes more desirable, there’s no doubt here. However, people are not willing to pay for a space that is positioned underground, possibly away from sun rays and fresh air, the price they would pay for a room with full-size windows and a door that opens outside. This is why, if you are thinking of having your damp space downstairs made inhabitable, do it for your family, who may need more space. If you are going to sell, it is just not worth the money.

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