How to Remodel a Basement: The Ultimate Guide

Many people fail to realize the potential of a well-designed and remodeled basement. This article will take you through all the in’s and out’s of how you need to go about remodeling a basement. We truly believe this is the most extensive resource on the topic online. Read the whole thing, or simply read specific parts by visiting the links below.

38 Ways To Succeed: Basement Remodel Facts for Everyone

Basement kitchen
Your basement remodeling project can often seem complicated and hard to figure out. It’s below the ground, it’s often dark, damp, and a mess. This space may be reclaimable though, don’t give up the dream of a cozy new bedroom or comfortable family room. After scouring the internet for the most important facts, ideas and tips, we have put them all into one package for you. Your basement is a unique place with some unique requirements. Take your time and look these tips, facts, and ideas over to get yourself set on the path to success.

  1. Before you begin know that basement projects are not small endeavors. Considering the amount of area involved it is not considered a weekend project. It may take a few months.
  2. Decide what you want before you begin.
  3. Make a thorough examination of your basement before deciding if you are going to proceed. An honest and thorough list of all issues should be made and be part of any decision you make since they will all need to be addressed before you can even begin.
  4. Be prepared for the cost, that is an average of $90.48 per square foot.
  5. Prepare for the traffic involved in your remodel. Unless there is exterior access all materials and all workers will have to go through your home. You will need to put down temporary covers for carpet and other flooring. Remove valuables that can be knocked off of tables, walls or shelves. The path from access to the basement will need to be as clear of obstacles as possible.
  6. A finished space may increase the value of your home, and attract more buyers if you are looking to sell.
  7. Do not overspend on your remodel. A luxury basement when your living room has 30-year-old wallpaper won’t work well with buyers.
  8. Over half of basements have some problem with below grade moisture. It is not a matter of if you will have a moisture issue, it is a matter of when. Pipes will leak, and foundations will allow moisture through. Do your best to address these problems as you remodel, and save yourself thousands of dollars down the road.
  9. The sad truth is that 98 percent of basements will have a leak at some point in their lifespan. Block foundations have an 80-90% chance of leaking in the first 20 years.
  10. Dehumidifiers can often fail to solve a moisture problem. Unsealed concrete will simply draw moisture through the concrete floor or walls as the room is made more dry.
  11. Put a vapor barrier in place. A vapor barrier that has been properly installed will go a long way to ensuring that your basement stays dry and comfortable.
  12. Double up . If you rely on a sump pump, you need to have an emergency backup system in place.
  13. Always use materials that can resist moisture when doing any remodeling below grade. Research materials you wish to use, and ensure that they can withstand the higher moisture level.
  14. When deciding on what to do for the ceiling you need to take into account the fact you will need to access pipes and electrical wiring that are run through the joists. A drop ceiling can be a good choice for this reason.
  15. Another issue to be prepared to deal with are any  conduits that may be below your first floor. These often hang lower then the joists and may require relocation or soffits. Ducts that hang below your floor joists can often be moved to the side walls. This keeps your traffic area with the highest ceilings possible. The soffits necessary for hiding the ducting can often be hidden inside cabinetry.
  16. Install a radon detector. Radon is a low level radioactive gas that seeps up from the ground into your home.
  17. Egress windows will be necessary if you wish to call your renovated area living space.  These are windows large enough for an adult to exit through, egress windows also usually require digging window wells.
  18. Proper insulation is important. Fiberglass insulation is not the best choice as it will retain moisture. Spray foam may be more expensive but you will save yourself repair costs later on.
  19. You need to have a ceiling of at least 7 feet in most cities in order for your basement to count as living space. If you need more headroom this can often be found by lowering the floor, however this may be a more involved process than just grabbing a shovel. The costs can be more than it is worth.
  20. Staining and sealing the existing concrete floor is a very modern and practical choice for your flooring.
  21. Carpet is warm and inviting and many home owners want to use it. Take care with this choice, the inevitable leak and water problem can ruin a carpet.
  22. Make a plan before you begin. Either get rid of things or rent a storage area.
  23. Ensure you get the  to do your remodel. Work that doesn’t have a permit will not be able to be included in your final appraisal. In the worst case it may need to be removed entirely.
  24. The noise from the floors above can be distressingly loud below ground. To address this add in noise dampening materials.
  25. Your basement will need more lighting than other places in your home. Plan for some sort of light fixture every 7 or 8 feet.
  26. Consider a French door or other glass door at the top of your stairs. This will keep you from opening a door into people, as well as make the space seem more a part of the home.
  27. Add in a door directly to the outside as part of your remodeling plan. This gives you exterior light, and keeps the construction from having to go through your home.
  28. Design walls to hide any support columns out of view by making your walls to incorporate them.
  29. A visual trick to make the ceiling seem higher is to lower the height of the doors by an inch or two.
  30. Install a separate air conditioning and heating zone for your basement. A separate control will keep it from being too cold in the summer, and keep you from trying to heat things more than necessary in the winter.
  31. If you have the room, opt to put in a full bathroom. A full bathroom downstairs means not having to go upstairs to use one.
  32. Purchase a powder actuated fastener for your remodeling. Fastening your framing to the concrete will require more than a hammer.
  33. Most cities require insulation of R13 or greater in a basement.
  34. Below grade plumbing may require a grinder and a pump to function correctly.
  35. Purchasing a pre-fabricated basement system is sometimes the best route to take. These are temporary walls that fit together into one whole system.
  36. Keep your basement within the 
  37. As you pursue your remodel, especially before you have added any windows, be careful about dust and fumes created during the process. Not only can these be dangerous but they can also rise up through the floor into the rooms above.
  38. Never forget the basic rule,  within 5 years your remodel should be focused on attracting the widest possible market. Avoid personalization and focusing your remodel on anything out of the ordinary.

The Ultimate Guide on How to Remodel Your Basement

Multi-functional basement
Your basement is often a cold, dark, clammy place filled with boxes of memories and the things you no longer really want, but don’t want to throw away. It doesn’t have to stay that way though, with a bit of effort and some money, your basement can become a cozy new bedroom, or a fun gaming room for your family. Learning how to remodel your basement isn’t that hard. By following some simple steps and putting a bit of thought into the process you can easily manage this remodel yourself.

Before you begin any sort of remodeling project the first thing to do is decide what your end result will be. What do you want this space to end up as? The answer to this question will drive every major decision that you make going forward. The layout for a bedroom, or family room will be much different than a game room or kids play area. Code requirements differ according to the intended use of the space as well. So sit down and ask yourself “what do I want” before you do anything else.

Once you know what you want to do, then you can start doing it! Don’t let the task overwhelm you and follow the steps to a successful project that we give you below.

Design Phase

In the design phase you will begin making the plans for your remodel. For it to be successful you must have a complete plan and a design that you are going to try to stick too. Some of the things to make sure get accomplished in this phase are…

  • Determine how much money you have to put into the project. Unless it is part of an overall home remodeling project avoid overspending and making it much more luxurious than the rest of your home.
  • Check the ceiling height against local code requirements. While not universal at ceiling height of 7 ½ feet is often required to include the renovation as additional square footage in your home.
    • If your ceiling isn’t high enough you may be able to dig deeper to get the required height. This may be an expensive option though, and is not something to plan for without engaging a contractor to do the work.
  • Look for any code violations that may already exist. Unless you are the original owner of your home there is no guarantee that what has already been done has been done correctly.
  • You will need to incorporate egress windows to make your remodel additional square footage in your home. An egress window is one large enough for a person to get out of the space through. This will also normally require window wells. Window wells are area’s dug down to allow people the ability to exit through the window.
    • An oversize window well can bring in more natural light and give your basement a more normal feel.
  • Examine the existing space. You are looking for anything that you need to include on a fix-it list. Cracks in the walls and floors will need to be filled. Any repairs to the underside of the floor above will need to be planned for as well.
  • Check your moisture level and look for any leaks in the walls or the floor. This is best done after a few days of rain if at all possible. If you check your basement for moisture problems and leaks in the middle of a drought you aren’t likely to find any water leaks.
    • Look for stains to determine where leaks are if you are in a dry spell. Stains on the walls and floors show where water has been leaking over time.
  • Make a detailed design of your intended finished remodel. Include materials, colors, and fabric choices to be as detailed as possible.

Pre-Construction Phase

In the pre-construction phase you are going to complete your plans and get everything ready for the actual construction phase. The best way to save money and to ensure your remodel comes out great is to spend a lot of time making decisions. Rushing into the construction phase of your remodel often results in having to redo mistakes, fix problems you didn’t take the time to address, and can run the costs up significantly. Things to do in the decision phase include…

  • Hire an architect to create the actual scale drawings required to apply for any permits that may be required. This may require him to inspect the area to include anything that currently exists.
  • Coordinate with the permitting department of your city or area. Find out how many permits you will need and what the costs will be. Don’t forget to get the price of any inspections that may be necessary as well.
    • This step is one that can’t be emphasized enough. As much of a pain as permitting may be, and however expensive it is, failure to obtain the proper permits can be catastrophic.
    • In the worst case if you go to sell your home you may be required to remove your construction so they can inspect wiring, framing, and anything else that should have gotten a proper inspection at the time of construction.
  • Talk with a real estate professional and an assessor to determine how much your project may change your property taxes. Decide if you can shoulder the additional tax burden.
  •  based on your design notes, and the architectural plans. This budget has to be as in depth as you can possibly make it. Remember to leave about 15% of your total budget for contingency costs. Things will always come up that you didn’t expect.
  • Determine how you are going to do your remodel. Are you going to do it yourself, hire a general contractor, or hire individual contractors for parts of the remodel.
    • The  can include less hassle, some savings, and a dedicated professional that will ensure all aspects of your remodel come off smoothly. A general contractor will bid on the job as a whole, freeing you from needing to know how much to budget for nails and supplies you may not have even heard of.
    • Hiring individual contractors saves you the cost of a general contractor. It gives you a bit of flexibility in finding your own contractors and may result in more savings. The need to coordinate construction times between different contractors can be a time intensive proposition though.
    • Completing your basement remodel yourself is the cheapest way of pursuing your basement remodel. If you are not very handy this is not a good option. There is also a tendency to think it will be done sooner than it actually will be able to be completed. Decide how long you think it will take to complete something, and then double that estimate.
  • If you decide to use contractor(s) put the job out for bids and decide which contractor(s) to use.

Procurement Phase

Your preparation phase is where you put all of your planning and decisions into action. The procurement phase combines all of your planning and decisions into actual physical action. You can often spend months in the procurement phase ensuring you have everything needed to begin the actual construction.

  • The procurement phase begins with filing for any necessary permits and waiting for them to be approved. Purchasing anything before you have an approved permit can result in purchases that may need to be changed if the permitting department won’t approve your plans.
    • This can be a time consuming and frustrating procedure but be patient and wait for the permits to all be approved before proceeding. A little patience at this point can save you time and frustration later on.
  • If you are using contractors this is the point where you finalize all of the contracts and allow the contractors to purchase supplies and move to construction.
  • If you have decided to do the work yourself this is where you purchase all the materials necessary to accomplish your remodel. If you have the space it is often better to buy everything at once and wait for delivery. This streamlines the construction process by removing any wait times for materials to be delivered.

Construction Phase

The meat and potatoes of your remodel is the construction phase. This will be where all of the actual work takes place. It is also where most of the problems will occur. So be prepared for things to not go according to your carefully detailed plans. Be flexible during the construction phase and allow yourself some leeway to get the best results.

  • Begin by addressing all of the issues you identified earlier. Fill any cracks, address any moisture issues, get everything properly sealed and ready for construction.
    • This can often include addressing drainage issues outside of your home. The best way to keep moisture out of your basement is to try to make sure it doesn’t stay close to your foundation.
  • Place an impermeable barrier material against the exterior walls to prevent moisture intrusion.
  • If you decide to put in subflooring, construct the subfloor or use premade options.
  • Place rigid foam insulation boards against the exterior walls.
  • Construct the perimeter walls slightly inboard of the exterior walls to allow yourself space for additional insulation and to ensure walls are plumb.
    • Your perimeter walls will not be flush and plumb with exact 90 degree corners. Your new interior walls need to correct these issues.
    • This also gives you enough room to run any electrical or network cabling.
  • Insulate your exterior walls.
    • Although fiberglass batting may suffice, spray foam closed cell insulation will help seal your basement and provides a higher insulation value with less required space.
  • Complete any behind the wall work including electrical and any plumbing necessary.
    • 3 way switches are great options for the tops and bottoms of your stairs. Otherwise if you forget to turn a light on or off you must trudge up or down the stairs to hit a switch.
  • Construct any partition walls that will be needed in your new basement layout.
    • Don’t drive nails or wall supports through the existing concrete slab. There are brackets and other methods to secure a partition wall without compromising the concrete slab.
    • Include framing in any doors as well.
  • Finish your walls and ceilings.
    • Leave access panels over anything that you will need to get at such as valves and important plumbing and electrical connections
    • Leave a gap between the base of your drywall and your concrete floor to avoid the problem of moisture wicking up through concrete and into drywall.
    • The ceiling may need to have access points as well to plumbing and electrical lines.
      • If you have enough clearance consider a drop ceiling.
      • Another option is to paint the existing joists, plumbing, electrical all the same color and not put a true ceiling in at all.
  • Add trim work and paint the new walls and ceilings. Doing this prior to your flooring reduces the chances of damage to the floor while you are still working.
  • Complete any floor finishing and baseboards.
    • Leave a small gap between the baseboards and any unsealed concrete.

Occupancy Phase

  • Inspect all work to ensure everything has been completed according to plans.
    • Do not accept or give a final approval to a contractor without a thorough inspection of their work.
  • Ensure any final inspections are conducted.
  • File all necessary documents related to your property taxes.
  • Put any warranty documents with your existing home documents.

That’s the end of the process, and you can now enjoy your new basement for years to come. Now that you have tackled one room and turned it into the space you always wanted, think about the other rooms in your house. Take a look at our other remodeling guides to help you turn the rest of your rooms into the places you always wanted.


Super Secrets To Remodel Small Basements Successfully

Basement cozy area
Not every basement is a huge area that can become an undergound palace. Sometimes due to mechanical spaces, or home design, it is smaller than you may think is useful. This may make you hesitate to do anything with your smaller space. You don’t need to give up all of your plans though, your small basement can still be a useful addition to your home. There are some super secrets to remodel small basements into amazing spaces. We’ll reveal them to you.

Super Secrets

  • Keep Focused: The most important secret is that to make a dream room you have to focus your efforts. You simply won’t have the space to make your basement multipurpose. By keeping your focus on one goal you avoid wasting time, space, and funds on elements that will only be in the way of your goal. So, before you begin any remodel sit down and decide what you want most. Are you looking for a bedroom, a game room, an office? Once you decide this will be the focus of your efforts.
  • Stay Dry Using The Exterior: One of the main problems with any basement is . This is the result of many different problems that you may find difficult to address. If this is the case look at the exterior of your home to try to fix moisture problems. By directing ground water away from your foundations with a good below grade drainage system you may be able to solve most moisture problems without sacrificing space.
  • Frame In Place: In small spaces you build in place instead of the normal method of building the wall and then standing it up. This helps you get the maximum use out of your space since you may not have room to accomplish building a wall in the normal fashion. Put the top and bottom plates into place and then put the studs into place one by one.
  • Purchase Small Ceiling Tiles: In many basements a drop ceiling is the best choice. The use of a drop ceiling allows access to plumbing and wiring in case of any issues in the future. In a small basement this can sometimes look slightly odd. Normal ceiling tiles look overly large in small spaces. When designing your ceiling make sure to purchase smaller than normal tiles in order to keep from having this problem.
  • Bedrooms May Be An Issue: Before getting your heart set, make sure you have enough space. Check with your local building department to make sure you have enough space to complete the project. Generally you will need at least 70 square feet in order to have your remodel comply with codes. No side should be less than 7 feet, and your ceiling will need to be at least 7 feet high. If you don’t have this amount of space, and can’t afford to make changes in order to achieve it, you will have to give up your bedroom plans.
  • Avoid the Ensuite: An ensuite bathroom will take up at least 15 square feet. That’s even if you only want a powder room with a sink and toilet. This may be a lot of space to give up. Giving up an ensuite bathroom gains you more room for living space. This goes back to deciding the focus of your remodel. If it is a bedroom you want, then make it the best bedroom possible. Not an okay bedroom and an okay bathroom.
  • Glue down the floor: In a large basement you can construct a subfloor and use standard flooring. In a small one you may not have the clearance in order to do this. If you are short on ceiling height then  that is glued down to the slab itself. This won’t mean you have to sacrifice look for utility. Modern laminates and tiles can give you a great look. You can even decide to stain and polish your existing concrete floor, avoiding the need to put any sort of floor down at all.
  • Paint the Joists: For basements that are lacking in the height required for a drop ceiling another choice is to simply paint the joists a solid color. By painting everything the same color you make a ceiling out of what you already have, saving space and giving you full access to the plumbing and electrical in place.
  • Use a Murphy Bed: If you are looking to make your small basement into a guest bedroom you can use a Murphy Bed. These types of beds are stored in a wall cabinet and fold down for use. This can turn your office or playroom into a temporary guest room. While it won’t be able to be added as a bedroom to your home’s value, it will be useful for relatives or guests.
  • Open the Stairs: By using open stairs, removing the risers so you can see through them, you gain a line of sight all the way to the wall. This makes your room feel slightly more open than it otherwise might. Removing the side wall is important for this as well.

Your small basement doesn’t have to be left as a place to store old boxes. Keep these points in mind and you can turn it into a cozy hideaway or useful space. Remember that the main secret is to focus on one use for the space. Also, be flexible and creative, these two things will let you take your small basement and make it into what you have always wanted. In small spaces you may have to be creative to get what you want from it.

Basement Remodeling Costs Nobody Tells You About

Bar in the basement
Remodeling a basement is not an inexpensive undertaking. The reported average cost is between $6,500 and $15,000. Not pocket change for most home owners. If you have an unfinished space you can save money. An unfinished basement is slightly less expensive as you save some money on demolition. If you have a basement that is already finished in some manner this is more expensive. It will cost between $8,500 and $17,000. This includes the costs of demolition and starting over from scratch.

Demolishing an existing basement costs approximately $2000. This includes labor and removal of all the debris.

This is merely an average though. Selecting higher quality materials will make your costs more than this average. Luxury basements with extremely high end materials can cost over $70,000. To determine a project cost for a luxury remodel take the underlying cost of the materials themselves into consideration. The national average does not normally include rare wood floors, or Italian marble floors.

When remodeling on a more normal level the costs are not beyond the reach of most home owners. In a normal basement remodel the average the cost per square foot ranges between $30 and $75 for a professionally completed project. There are ways to save on these costs such as doing some of the tasks yourself and sourcing your materials wisely.

One of the main expenses in any remodeling project are labor costs. To help you determine what you can expect to pay, there are the following general categories of laborers;

For some home owners simply making a family room isn’t enough. Converting your basement involves into a fully functional apartment means adding a kitchen and bathroom. This may run between 20 and 50 thousand dollars. The cost of this endeavor revolves around the costs of both the kitchen and the bathroom. An average kitchen installation can run around $30,000. An average for a new bathroom is $20,000.

Some homes are not built with large basements. Home owners that need to make a bit more room in order to have the space of their dreams may need to dig out more beneath their existing homes. Adjusting the footprint of your home by digging out a larger basement is going to cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. The extent that you need to widen your existing basement is what will decide where you fall in this price range.

Keep in mind that the size of your basement will largely determine the cost of your remodel. A smaller sized basement may range between $5000 and $15,000. A modest sized basement adds around $3000 to this cost. A full sized one is normally considered to be one that is over 1000 square feet. A larger space may cost anywhere from $15,000 doing it yourself.  If you hire a professional to complete a large size remodel it can be $40,000 .

Another option to consider is investing in a basement finishing system. A basement finishing system comes prefabricated and consists of the walls and ceiling necessary to finish out an area. These basement finishing systems cost anywhere between  $45,000 to $50,000 and can be installed by home owners, or by professionals. This is often a very good option for home owners who don’t have a lot of experience in construction.

For the more enterprising do it yourself type of home owner, a remodel is something that is possible. With time, effort and patience most home owners can complete this project. To help these types of home owners the costs of different portions of the project are detailed below.


  • Drop Ceilings: $1-$4 per square foot
  • Painted: $200 if you do it yourself, up to $500 for professional help
  • Drywall: $1.75-$2.30


  • Finished, non-load bearing interior: $3-$5/square foot
  • Removing a load bearing support and installing a new beam: $7,000-$25,000 depending on the amount of supports and the distance to span.


Full bathroom

  • Installation including a sink, toilette and shower: $12,000-$20,000


  • The national average for building permits is $911/permit.


  • Sealing exterior walls and concrete floor: $7.87/sq ft7000)

Egress windows

  • $2,500 to $5000 depending on the depth of the well and complexities of drainage.


  • Spray Foam: $0.44 to $1.00 per board foot. A board foot is 1 foot by 1 foot and 1 inch deep. To get the price for your remodel you would take the square feet you wish to insulate, an then multiply by the depth. So a 3 inch deep area would be 3 board feet.
  • Batt Insulation: $0.51 to $1.19 per square foot.
  • Rigid insulation: $1.23 to $2.25 to have installed professionally


  • $100/ recessed light installed

How much does it cost to remodel a small basement?

Well-lit basement
Remodeling your basement is often an expensive and account draining endeavor. You can often spend between $7000 and $15,500. Every basement isn’t a full scale remodel though. Some homes have a small basement to work with. The average home has a footprint of around 1200 square feet.

A small basement is one that is around 700 square feet or less. They have both advantages and drawbacks when you are thinking about remodeling. The smaller area can mean that your project costs are far below what would be required for an average sized basement.

The cost often revolve around the intended use of the space. Turning into an entertainment space is much less expensive than a full apartment.

Facts About the Costs

  1. A remodel is more expensive than starting from scratch. Starting from scratch saves around $2000 on demolition costs.
  2. A small basement may be able to be remodeled on your own for around $5000. Calling a professional in may cost as much as $15,000.
  3. Drop ceilings will likely cost between $1,400 and $4,200 for the smaller sized ones.
  4. A benefit of a small basement is waterproofing costs are much lower. Instead of thousands of dollars you may be able to spend as little as $500.
  5. The cost of a basement remodeling project is approximately $10 to $35 per square foot.
  6. Smaller basements often are perfect for finishing systems. These come as a complete set including walls and ceilings complete with outlets and fixtures.
  7. Remodeling a small basement will often mean you can’t put a bathroom in this will lower the overall cost by up to $10,000.

Quick Cost Breakdown For Your Small Basement

The list below will help you determine a beginning budget. The costs below are approximate and based on using standard materials.

What Fits Into a Small Basement?

A small basement may seem like it has no room. That it is only room enough for storage. However this is not the case at all. Listed below are some elements that you can fit into your 700 square foot basement.

  • Each bedroom – 150 square feet
  • A bathroom – 40 square feet
  • Living room – 200 square feet
  • Each closet – 30 square feet

These 20 Basement Remodel Ideas That Increase Home Value Will Save Your Remodel

For home owners who are looking for basement remodel ideas that increase home value, it can often be confusing. Not every idea will give the return you hope for. Far to often you can spend money on things you think would improve the value of your home, and have it turn out to not help at all. Occasionally the choices you make may even hurt the value of your home. We’ve gathered up some of the best advice possible to help you to avoid making bad decisions.

If you plan on selling your home within 5 years your remodel needs to be geared towards a wider audience. However, if you plan on living in your home forever you can indulge your personality a bit more. Regardless of  if you are selling soon or staying forever many home owners want to be sure that any remodel increases the value of your home. The tips below will help you make the right decisions to ensure your remodel adds value to your home.


  1. Expect toretain 70% of the value that you put into remodeling your basement. This is not a hard and fast rule though. The amount of value that it adds to your home will depend on making good choices and decisions.
  2. Your goal is not to dump every available dollar you have into your remodel. Restrain yourself to only spending between 5 and 10 percent of your home’s value on it.
  3. Avoid personalized remodel plans. Making it look like a space ship might sound great, but it will not add the same value to your home that a more neutral plan would. Avoid indulging personal tastes in border paper, bright paints and other elements that might not work for everyone. If someone says an idea is “unique” you should think twice about doing it.
  4. To add value to your home, remodel it into something that appeals to the widest audience. See what is common for your neighborhood, and make it just slightly better. If most basements in the area are unfinished then use this space to add something your existing home lacks.
  5. You absolutely must ensure all moisture issues are addressed in your remodel. Take extra care and put in the options to keep out moisture for the long term. Being able to tell buyers that you have taken the time to protect the new basement is one of the main ingredients that add to the value of your remodel and home.
  6. Keeping your basement a comfortable temperature is also an important aspect to having this space add to the value of your home. Make sure you have the right size heating and air conditioning and ideally you should have it be on a separate thermostat system from the rest of your home.
  7. One thing you can not afford to forget is to ensure your remodeling work has all the proper permits filed and approved. Anything that you do not get an approved permit for will add no value to your home, and you may have to take it all out to even put your home on the market. Research what work requires permits, apply for the permit, get the inspection and you will be guaranteeing your efforts do not go to waste.
  8. A standard height, or higher, ceiling in your basement can help add to the value of your home. Balance the value of digging the floor lower, against the added value to your home. If lowering the floor kills your profit it makes no sense to pursue that.
  9. Soundproof the mechanical areas. Nothing spoils an entertainment room, or a cozy bedroom, like the overwhelming sound of an air handler turning on.
  10. Use moisture resistant materials including drywall and . This adds value by allowing you to tell your buyers it is better for the long term.
  11. If you plan on remodeling your basement into a living space, keep the style consistent with the rest of the house.
  12. Ensure that your basement has enough light. This can be either through lighting fixtures or adding enough exterior windows to bring light in. You should try to have one light source every 7 feet. Recessed lighting, or lighting level with the bottom of your floor joists keeps your lights from stealing ceiling space.
  13. Open up the stairway. Most basement stairs hug an exterior wall, remove the other wall and open the space up more. Consider having a totally open stairwell and remove the risers, opening up the sight line makes it feel larger.
  14. If possible, add a door leading outside. This will largely depend on the exterior grade of your home. If you can make an exterior door, this makes it more valuable to potential buyers.
  15. Don’t price your home out of your neighborhood. If your home is already worth as much or more than comparable homes in your area, sinking $40,000 into a full remodel may actually keep your home from selling. Be smart about how much money you put into your basement and what impact it will have on your ability to market your home in your neighborhood.
  16. Knowing the market and what buyers want is the best way to make money. If people in your area want wine cellars, and you put in a game room, you have missed your mark. Research what is desired and focus your remodel on what is wanted to get the most return on the money you invest. A good Realtor® can tell you what other homes in your neighborhood have to offer, and how you can match it.
  17. Don’t skimp on materials that you put into your remodel. A cheap remodel, with substandard materials that are put into place in a haphazard manner will not add to the value of your home. The quality that you put into the materials of your remodel will largely determine if it adds value to your home. This doesn’t require you to purchase the most expensive version of every single piece of trim. Quality materials can be solidly in the mid-range of the price scale.
  18. Less can actually be more. If you aren’t sure what buyers in your area are looking for specifically keep your remodel basic. Don’t do more than finish out the walls and ceilings. This gives potential buyers a blank slate to put their own stamp on.
  19. If your local Realtor® points out that buyers are looking for a functional room in your basement then adding functional rooms may add more value to your home. While a blank slate appeals to many, others are looking for another functional room. The trick to this, as stated above, is finding what most people are looking.
  20. The best way to increase your home value is to remodel your basement into a livable apartment. If you want to take this step be prepared, this means a much bigger up front cost in your remodel. To pursue this goal of an entire livable apartment you will also need enough room to put in at least a one bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living room. If you have the room though you may be able to charge a large portion of your mortgage cost in rent.

40 Ingenious Ways To Save Money On Your Basement Remodel

Cozy basement
Every basement remodeling project has the problem of cost control. It is not cheap to remodel any part of your home. Your project can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Basements have a lot of additional issues that can drive costs up that are unique to that space. Moisture issues, lack of windows, and other aspects can make your remodel more expensive than you anticipated.

Before you read our tips, there is a question you must answer. What is your goal? This question is one of the best ways to save money. By knowing what it is you are trying accomplish you are able to focus your efforts. Plunging into a remodel without a clear vision is a recipe for disaster. Create a complete detailed vision before buying anything.

Ways to Save

  1. Do extensive research and find out exactly  for the materials, labor, and construction of your new basement.
  2. Planning extensively is one of the best ways to ensure that you keep your costs down.
  3. Build what you will use most to avoid spending money on things that will not be useful in your home. If you aren’t going to need or use some aspect you are paying for in your remodel it is just wasting money.
  4. Avoid the “We could also” impulse. Often as a remodel progresses you can think of more things that would be great to do. These last minute additions can drive the price up by not being part of your initial plan.
  5. Save yourself money down the road by fixing moisture issues when you remodel. While it may be cheaper to just skip this step, it will cost more down the road to ignore issues.
  6. Never forget permits are necessary in order to do construction. Failing to get both permits, and the proper inspections, can mean work delays. The worst case is that by failing to get the proper permits you may need to open walls for inspections, or remove work.
  7. Avoiding putting in plumbing is one of the main ways to save money. A bathroom can add 10 to 20 thousand dollars to your remodel.
  8. Properly insulating saves money through lower heating and air conditioning costs.
  9. Don’t make it a living space, this avoids permit requirements for egress windows and ceiling heights.
  10. Keep the space open as open as possible. Embracing an open concept means you need fewer walls. Each wall that you avoid can reduce your costs by as much as $1000.
  11. Use standard sizes to take advantage of cost savings, it also reduces waste if you plan correctly.
  12. Don’t do the whole basement and only remodel a portion of it. Leaving a large portion unfinished saves you money on project costs.
  13. Use less expensive materials instead of the luxury versions. Not every remodel needs rare hardwood floors and marble countertops.
  14. Doing your own demolition saves around 100 dollars an hour. So break down the walls and tear up your floors on your own. Be careful of existing electrical and plumbing though.
  15. Remember long term costs as you make decisions. Even though you can save money by making quick choices on materials and finishes look at the lifetime costs.
  16. Ask your contractors or any local contractors if you can buy their leftover materials. If you are only in need of a small amount of some material you can realize great savings this way.
  17. Don’t use recessed lights, each one costs around 100 dollars. Wall sconces may be less trendy, but they are also much less expensive.
  18. Do work yourself to save the most money. Each part of the project that you are able to complete on your own saves hundreds if not thousands of dollars on your project.
  19. Running your own errands is a simple thing that any homeowner can do, no matter their level of ability.
  20. Use imitation materials to get the look of luxury without the luxury price tag.
  21. Locate any new plumbing near existing plumbing to save yourself the cost of rerouting drain pipes and vent stacks.
  22. Buy materials at auction to get some great bargains. Check out local construction auctions and estate auctions which may have useful material.
  23. Increase spacing of studs from 24 instead of 16. This saves on the cost of 2×4’s and is usually within code as long as a wall is not load bearing.
  24. Use as few doors as possible, each door may add around $500 to your total.
  25. Stain the existing concrete floor to avoid the cost of adding a subfloor. Using the existing concrete also saves on padding and carpeting
  26. Rent tools instead of buying them, you will need various specialized tools if you are doing it yourself. Unless you have more than one basement, you may never use that tool again. Check out your local building supply store to see if you can rent things by the day.
  27. Get multiple bids to ensure you pay the lowest contract costs. Always try to get three bids for any project, task, or material, if possible.
  28. Ask contractors where you can find savings, they are likely way more in tune with the local market than you may be.
  29. Choose to work off-season in order to get some savings. Contractors may be as much as 5% to 10% cheaper in their off season. With a basement remodel you may be able to take advantage of when contractors are traditionally more likely to not be working.
  30. Ask for discounts, this might seem a silly suggestion, but it can often lead to some savings. If you are a veteran, or a civil servant, this can often be a hidden way to save. A lot of businesses may offer a discount that they don’t advertise openly.
  31. Keep any electrical wiring where it is instead of moving any around. An electrician can cost you over $80 an hour, and may cost more in permit fees.
  32. Go with a painted ceiling and save thousands on installing a drop ceiling. Painting the existing joists, ducts, and wires one color creates an interesting ceiling inexpensively. This is a great way that a home owner can do themselves.
  33. Wrap the posts instead of moving them by building boxes around them to turn them into pillars. Keeping the supports in place saves the cost of labor to remove them, as well as the cost of the new span. Moving supports usually also means you need an architect to draw new plans for a permit.
  34. Go industrial and keep I-beams exposed.
  35. Putting in a fabric ceiling can save a lot of money. This can be done fairly easily, the fabric can be left as is, or varnished and painted.
  36. Leave ducting where it is, each move will cost you.
  37. Recycle materials left over from other projects in the home. This has the added benefit of keeping the same style throughout your home.
  38. Buy materials at a Houses for Humanity ReStore or other store that sells recycled materials.
  39. Purchase remnants. Both carpet and paint remnants can save you a lot of money. Matching these later may be an issue though so be sure you get as much as possible.
  40. Conscript friends and family as helpers. If you have the people you can ask for help each one can save you money you would be paying a general laborer. If you have relatives that are actual contractors or professionals this is even more of a cost saving.

How to win your Basement Remodel Budget Battle

Remodeling your basement can be a costly project. If you hire a contractor you may pay up to $25 per square foot to turn it into usable space. Even doing most of the work yourself can run between $6000 and $7000 dollars. This means finding ways to finish your basement as inexpensively as possible if your on a budget. Learning how to remodel on a budget isn’t the same as learning calculus though. By taking the time to do some planning and research, including reading our guide, you can end up with a great space without needing a second job.

One of the main things that will keep your basement remodel within your budget is to be realistic about what you will be able to accomplish. You won’t be able to afford high end finishes if your budget is on the low end of the scale. Expensive rare hardwood floors aren’t necessary to get a basement you enjoy being in. So your first goal is to not try to have more than you can afford. This doesn’t mean you have to go cheap on everything though, our guide will help you decide the best places to put your budget, and how to get the most out of it.

To help you keep your remodel inside a small budget we will do our best to break down where you can save money in the main areas of a remodel. Think of these as savings prompts, if you have ideas beyond these let us know in the comments below!

Design Phase

Saving money in the design phase can be a tricky proposition because most of the actions taken in this phase don’t have a large price tag. The main way to save money is to do all of your design work yourself. By avoiding asking a professional to take measurements, or make choices you also avoid having to pay them to do those things.

Do the research into your design ideas yourself. You can find a lot of information online, or at the public library. Using these resources will allow you to make the best choices on your own.

Pre-Construction Phase

Taking a large amount of time in the pre-construction is one of the best ways to ensure your basement remodel can fit in a smaller budget. Detailed plans and carefully thought out options save you thousands in fixing mistakes and unnecessary delays.

This is where you truly have to make hard choices when pursuing a basement remodel on a budget. You won’t be able to have it all, so you need to make plans for getting as much as possible out of your budget.

This means selecting some choices that may not be high end. It means forgoing crown molding, and other bells and whistles that are nice but not necessary to have a finished space. Making smart choices before you even begin construction keeps you inside of your budget.

Decide to do as much as you can yourself. Go through your plans line by line and determine how much you can accomplish without getting a contractor. Doing things yourself does not always have to mean you need to be a handyman. Even signing on to do cleanup, transportation, and small jobs can stretch your budget farther than you would have thought.

Make sure you get competitive bids in this phase of your remodel. The best idea is to get at least three bids for anything you need to contract out. This will hopefully encourage a little competition among the contractors and you can get a better price. Do your best not to just go with the first contractor who offers to do the work. This may be frustrating and take longer, but in the end you can find yourself with a little extra money in your budget for it.

Procurement Phase

Sourcing your materials yourself can also save you money. Be innovative and look at different options for finding your materials. Some places to think about are auctions, relatives, surplus stores and outlets. These are places a contractor won’t look, but you should be looking. Finding your materials at the lowest price is your goal.

When getting your permits completed see if you can bundle them to save money on fees. Turning in 10 different requests incurs a fee for each permit request. Depending on the permitting process you may be able to turn in one plan and save on some costs. Research this with your local building department to see if you can save this way.

Construction Phase

Finding ways to save in the construction phase means making the best of the situation. As you, or the contractors you engage, are doing the construction always look for ways to save a few dollars. Being open and adaptable during construction lets you pitch in where you can, and complete what you can to lower your costs.

Your repairs and fixes are often a great place to save money on your budget. Since these are done before the actual remodeling takes place you have time to learn how, and then make the repairs on your own. Do these bit by bit and even the most inexperienced home owner may be able to do more than they ever thought.

Occupancy Phase

Your occupancy phase is where you can save money by doing the cleanup and final efforts on your own. This is also where you make sure you are saving money down the road by ensuring you get warranties on all of the work done by contractors.

Good record keeping is important to saving money down the road. Spend the time and effort to register any materials that you can with their manufacturer. Keep all warranty paperwork and receipts in a folder or envelope and store this in a safe place.

50 Greatest Basement Remodeling Tips

Basement with training equipment
Pursuing a basement remodel can be an overwhelming task. A thousand details need to be thought over and plans made to cover every possibility. These tips help you to plan by pointing out things you may not have thought of. Read through our tips and get some of the best ideas out there and begin making your plans. Your basement can be valuable space that can not only give you more room, but add to the value of your home.

This can all be done without having to permit and construct an extension to your home. Since your basement already is within the footprint of your home it won’t ever run up to a property line, or need to be approved by a home owners association like an exterior remodel may have to be. So plunge on in and and get some more living space. With the proper care and planning it can become a cozy bedroom or a luxurious media space.

  1. Most cities require livable areas to have two forms of egress. This means putting in a window large enough to meet code requirements and a window well so that people can get out if necessary. Without this a fully finished basement may add no value to your home at all.
  2. Natural light is at a premium, use it to your best advantage by placing your main traffic areas in places that get natural light.
  3. Using normal drywall below grade can cause mold growth on the paper surfaces. Use sheetrock paneling that is not paper faced to keep the possibility of mold much lower. Fiberglass faced drywall is often your best choice as it will not mold as easily, it is more expensive up front though.
  4. All work will need to be approved by the local permitting authority. You will need to prepare a detailed plan to submit for approval, and then keep to that plan.
  5. The basement often has structural support columns scattered through the space. If you plan on adding walls try to incorporate any structural supports. This will both hide the supports and be save the cost of replacing them with beam.
  6. Any existing mechanical areas need to retain enough access space in order to do any maintenance. This means that you have to leave enough space to get into the area and work on heating, air conditioning, or other items.
  7.  is the best bet for below grade areas. They will resist any moisture that might damage actual .
  8. A lot of basements have the easiest access to most of the houses main plumbing stacks. A traditional drywall ceiling can often cost thousands to repair if you need to get at the pipes. Consider a drop ceiling to give yourself easier access. If you do go with drywall ensure you put access points at the main areas of concern.
  9. An innovative ceiling idea is to make it out of beadboard and trim supports. This gives you access to the plumbing and wiring while still making the space interesting and unique.
  10. Lighting will be more of an issue in a basement, the lack of windows means you will rely more on lighting fixtures to ensure the space is not dark and dismal.
  11. Window wells don’t have to be ugly. Use a fake stone or make your well out of bricks to create a window well that isn’t an eyesore.
  12. Window wells can be a problem for water pooling. Install a drain in them to avoid this issue, tie the drain into your sump pump or water extraction system.
  13. Consider putting a mini-fridge and wet bar in. This will keep you from needing to trudge up and down stairs just to grab a drink.
  14. Put cabinetry under high windows to make it look more like a design element.
  15. Below grade plumbing will likely need backflow prevention valves and macerating extractor pumps in order to function effectively and safely.
  16. Test for moisture issues before you begin. Once you have put everything into place is the worst time to discover you have leaks in pipes or retaining walls.
  17.  of the floor above to make sure nothing needs repair before beginning your remodel.
  18. Ensure you have the required ceiling height in order for it to be counted as living space. Most city building codes require you to have 7 ½ feet of clearance.
  19. If you don’t have the required 7 1/2 feet of clearance you may be able to lower the floor, this is an expensive proposition though and should be discussed with a contractor.
  20. You can also gain a bit more room by lowering portions of the flooring. If you need a few more inches for a workout area or similar use the floor can be dug out without affecting the foundation as long
  21. Double check any furnaces and water heaters to ensure they are properly ventilated. Address any issues before turning the area into sleeping or living spaces.
  22. Make sure you use downspout extensions on the ground outside your home to keep surface water at least 10 feet from the foundation.
  23. To help prevent water issues slope your yard away from the foundation if possible. Standing pools of water near your foundations can often be the cause of water leaking.
  24. Before beginning work, seal cracks or gaps around pipes or anything going through the foundations with patching compound.
  25. An in ground gutter is a below the surface system to ensure water is directed away from walls from the outside. This option is composed of a water barrier buried just below the surface and sloped to direct water away.
  26. Large cracks can be sealed with hydraulic cement to ensure that there are no moisture issues after you put up your new walls.
  27. Prior to constructing walls insulate any pipes that will be covered. This will prevent water damage from condensation that may form on the pipe.
  28. Put rigid foam insulation on each wall before beginning to put studs to keep out the cold of being below grade.
  29. To save yourself some time and effort it may make sense to consider pre-made systems that are designed just for your basement walls.
  30. Use sound dampening materials to keep the noise levels from each room above coming down. Don’t forget to try and isolate vents which may transmit noise through the air handler.
  31. Ensure you have good ventilation. An air filtration system can both keep air circulating and keep it fresh smelling. The best option is to have one that also is a dehumidifier to dry out the space.
  32. If possible, have open access to the floor above. This type of open access will keep it feeling more a part of your home and not so much of a completely separate area.
  33. Put some thick area rugs down to soften up the bathroom and make it feel more warm and inviting.
  34. Keep the remodel . Avoid having completely different design themes upstairs and downstairs.
  35. Don’t put too much into your basement remodel. It lowers the overall value of your home to have only that space luxurious while the rest is old and dated.
  36. Soffits hide pipes without requiring a lower ceiling. To make it look less like a soffit make it wider than necessary and bring it all the way to the nearest wall.
  37. Put recessed lighting in your soffit to make it more of a design element.
  38. Flooding is a very real possibility. Decide what will happen if it does by having a plan for where you want water to go. Putting in a good drain to a pit with a sump pump or storm drain may save you thousands down the road.
  39. A ventless fireplace that uses propane, gels, or electricity are a great option. They can make a room feel more like those above grade and modern options look and function great. The top of the line options use steam for 3D projections and are convincingly lifelike.
  40. Open stairs are another great option. By keeping the stairs open you keep the eye line all the way to the wall giving it a more spacious feel.
  41. Seal your rim joints to save a bunch on your energy costs. Use rigid foam inserts cut to fit, and caulked into place. Sealing these off prevents energy loss.
  42. If your basement remodel is focused on a media room or home theater ensure your lighting is able to be adjusted by dimmer switches. Not every event will be better in complete darkness.
  43. Turning your basement into a kid friendly zone should include some to ensure they are less likely to get hurt.  can be very unforgiving when it comes to slips and falls.
  44. Avoid darker colors for walls and floors since it is a place that already fights being a darker room than anywhere else in your home.
  45. If you don’t want to (or can’t afford) to put a full ceiling in consider just painting everything above your head the same color. This is what is done in more industrial settings. This might just be an option considering how you plan to decorate the space. Ensure the paint is dark colored, flat, and paint everything including wires.
  46. Fabric can also be a low budget option for finishing your ceiling . Use large sheets of fabric hung in sort of tent like drapes to cover the ceiling. While not for everyone this whimsical option may be perfect for the home owner who goes for off beat décor.
  47. To give your concrete block wall a bit more visual oomph paint the individual blocks in different shades to give them a look that mimics another substance like large bricks or stones. This can be something that gives a plain wall some visual interest.
  48. A low cost option to covering up plain concrete bricks is to put curtain rods and curtains on one or more walls. One of the advantages is that you can change out the curtains seasonally.
  49. Make access panels look like art by framing them and putting art inside the frame. This not only conceals the access point but adds to the look of the wall.
  50. Basement game rooms require more space than you may think. Putting a seven foot pool table into a room requires the room to be around 13′ by 16′ to accommodate a pool cue.

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