Basement Finishing Costs: Tips and Tricks For Top ROI

Are you thinking about a basement renovation? Basement finishing is a great way to increase the value of your home and reclaim more livable space. Taking an unfinished basement and transforming it into a cosy, livable space generally costs more than renovating! If you’re considering finishing your basement, this article covers the nuts and bolts of a typical project.

Take it from the Langley basement finishing experts, before you dive into your lower-level renovation, read these tips:

Is basement finishing a good investment?

Those looking into a basement renovation are generally interested in either (1) making more room themselves to use, or what’s even more common in greater Vancouver, (2) creating a basement suite to rent out.

Both motivations are great reasons to undertake a project like this. The first will likely improve the quality of your life and increase the value of your home. The second is a clear way to generate passive income for your family.

Finishing your basement will always add value. But will it give you a positive return on your investment?

Basement Finishing Cost and ROI

According to Home Advisor, the average cost of finishing a basement that’s between 700-1,000 square feet is $8,000 to $18,500. They estimate the average basement finishing project ROI to be about 70%. However, Canadian industry sites and forums quote closer to $30+ per square foot.

The only way to calculate your ROI on a basement renovation is to know the cost of the investment. So how much does basement finishing cost?

How to estimate basement finishing costs

Averages are a great benchmark when going into a big home renovation project like this. But what’s more important is figuring out the numbers that are specific to your location and needs. To get an idea of what your basement finishing will cost, consider each project phase:

Design considerations

How you want your finished basement to look is the single largest factor in determining the cost of the project. At each stage in the process, you will have design choices to make, with each decision affecting the bottom line.

Design constraints such as low ceilings, duct work, plumbing, and permitting requirements can either make decisions simple or much more complex. We suggest speaking with a basement finishing contractor before you get started to discuss what you’d like. Professional renovators will be up to date on what it takes to make your design happen and ballpark costs involved. They can save you a ton of time and money in the long run.

Permitting costs

Permit types and costs vary by each municipality in greater Vancouver and across Canada. For example, the minimum building permit fee in Surrey is $187. In Vancouver, permits start at $158 for projects up to $5k and incur incremental charges for building costs greater than that.

Refer to your design ideas and the estimate from your professional renovation contractor to determine and factor in your permitting costs. Be sure to determine who is responsible for obtaining and paying for all required permits and inspections up front.

Waterproofing costs

You can expect to pay between $3k-$5k to waterproof your basement for finishing.

Basements are notorious for moisture issues, as they’re generally below grade. Waterproofing will ensure that your space is not only safe, but also dry and comfortable. Ensuring there is proper drainage, vapour barrier, and sump pump(s) before you get started on the project is a worthwhile endeavour.

The last thing you want is to spend weeks and thousands of dollars on finishing your basement, only to have a flood and ruin all your hard work! Again, a professional will be able to assess what work is necessary before you get started.

Framing costs

Once your lower level is water tight, you can begin to layout your design. Framing is an exciting part of any project because it’s when your space begins to take shape. Typically, you should budget $2-$5 per square foot for framing your basement walls.

Some people prefer to use metal framing in their basement because of its durability and waterproof characteristics.

Insulation and Soundproofing costs

Basement suites are most enjoyed when they are warm, dry, and quiet. Expect to pay $3-$5 per square foot for insulation. Soundproofing can be achieved for about $1.00 per square foot.

Basement drywall costs

You can expect to pay between $1.80-$3.10 per square foot for professional drywalling including supplying, installing, and finishing the new drywall.

Ceiling costs

Basement ceilings can be problematic in that they are typically low. From a home maintenance perspective, basement ceilings pose more than a height issue. Generally, the ceiling will house vital mechanics such as plumbing, ducting, and electrical. While you can install a typical drywall ceiling to maximize height, there are perks to having a t-bar ceiling in your basement.

Drywall ceiling installation costs will be slightly higher than drywall for walls. Budget about $2-$3 per square foot.

Flooring costs

In basement finishing projects, the flooring is an area where you can save or spend a ton. If you’re looking for a more modern look, you could simple seal the concrete and lay an area rug down. However, most homeowners are looking to keep their toes warm and their heating bill down.

Carpet, laminate, and hardwood flooring are all popular options for basement flooring. Carpeting costs an average of $1,500 for a typical space, vinyl laminate is $300 - $500+, and wood flooring is $4,000 - $5,000+.

Painting Costs

The final touches for your newly finished basement can make the biggest impact. Sealing and priming drywall costs about $1.50 per square foot. Painting walls and trim can range from $1k-$4k+.

Basement features that cost most

If you’re looking to finish your basement on the cheap, consider avoiding bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. The plumbing, electrical, and design requirement of these rooms will dramatically increase costs of your basement finishing.

In addition to the fixtures and furniture required for kitchens and bathrooms, plumbing for these areas will require a specialized professional. If the hookups aren’t readily available, timelines and costs quickly multiply. Basement bedrooms also require special safety features that can require changes to the foundation and landscaping of your home.

Getting the best return on your basement finishing project

Investors, real estate agents, and contractors agree, finishing your basement is one of the smartest ways to earn money with your home. When it’s done right, you can make money on your project short-term or even immediately.

Don’t forget the non-monetary return that your new basement space will provide. What have you always wanted your home to have? A reading nook, bar, craft room, home gym? What type of space could make an impact on your quality of life? You can likely create it in your basement.

Here’s how to finish your basement the financially smart way:

Quality waterproofing and insulation

Basement that are finished with quality materials and workmanship are more likely to retain their value long-term. Poor insulation leads to no one wanting to use your new space and high energy bills to heat it. Poor waterproofing can completely ruin your newly renovated space, leaving you out of pocket and out of space. Also, any project done with poor quality materials or workmanship will be seen as a liability, rather than a benefit when you’re selling.

Consider the context

If you’re looking to sell soon, then the resale value of your renovation is likely more important than how much enjoyment you would get out of it personally. Consider your local market as well as the age, style and size of your home to ensure you’re not over or under renovating.

Plan 10 years ahead

No matter the immediate costs associated, it’s important to think long-term about your basement finishing project. What will you want or need in 10 years? Over a longer period of time, a well-planned basement renovation will not only pay dividends in your quality of life, but also in the value of your home.

To get your project planned out effectively and maximize your ROI, contact us today for a free basement finishing consultation and estimate. With our home interior experts, you’ll gain access to all the tips and tricks to a cost-effective new basement suite.