Many homeowners don’t finish their basements for various reasons. However, the most common one we hear is the cost – and for a good reason. Finishing your basement can leave a massive hole in your budget.

The most expensive part of finishing a basement is usually the flooring and wall framing. When combined, both these items account for more than 50% of your total expenses.

To put this into perspective, here’s a breakdown of the costs you’ll incur when finishing your basement

What's the most expensive part of finishing a basement

The average cost to finish a basement ranges between $10 – $30 per sq. ft depending on the materials you choose and the contractors you hire. The costs could, however, go as high as $50 per sq. ft if you’re using premium materials.

This means that for a small 500 sq. ft basement, you can expect to spend anywhere from $5,000 – $15,000.

Other factors that may influence these prices include your geographical location, how that space will be used, and any fixtures you will need installed.

Labor cost to finish a basement

For basement finishing projects, most contractors don’t charge per sq. ft or per hour like with other home renovation projects. Instead, they include their labor rate in the final quote.

This is because the labor covers several professionals including electricians, plumbers, general laborers, and carpenters.

If you opt to hire a general contractor, expect to spend anywhere from $1,000 – $2,500 for smaller projects, and up to $34,000 for bigger projects.

In most cases, the labor will account for around 20 – 40% of the total project cost. The contractor’s rates will, however, vary depending on the job difficulty and the size of the basement.

Labor cost to finish a basement

Cost breakdown of finishing a basement

To help you get a better understanding of what you’re paying for, here’s a breakdown of the total cost to finish a basement.

ServiceCost per sq. ftCost per 500 sq. ft
Framing $3 - $6 $500 - $1,200
Flooring $3 - $11$1,500 - $5,500
Drywall $1.50 - $4$750 - $2,000
Insulation $1 - $5$500 - $2,500
Waterproofing $3 - $10$1,500 - $5,000
Lighting and fixtures installation -$1,325
Sump pump installation-$600 - $2,000
Painting$3 - $7$1,500 - $3,500
Egress window-$2,500 - $5,300
Electrical -$2,880
Plumbing -$3,000 - $15,000
Outlets -$1,100
Permits -$1,200 - $2,000

Framing

Basic framing by itself without drywall costs between $3 – $6 per linear ft. With drywall, you have to add an extra $5 – $10 to that price. On average, most homeowners spend around $1,200 on framing or between $500 – $1,600.

Flooring

The average cost of installing your basement flooring ranges between $3 – $11 per sq. ft depending on the floor material. This comes to around $3,500 on average, with the overall range standing between $1,500 and $5,500.

Drywalling

Installing drywall onto your basement walls will cost you anywhere from $1.50 to $4 per sq. ft. This means that for your 500 sq. ft basement, you can expect to spend anywhere from $750 – $2,000.

Insulation

How much you’ll spend on insulating your basement will largely depend on the type and thickness of the material you use. However, most homeowners spend between $1 – $5 to insulate their basement. This comes to around $500 – $2,500 for a 500 sq. ft basement.

Waterproofing

The average cost of waterproofing your basement ranges between $3 and $10 per sq. ft. For a 500 sq. ft basement, this estimates to around $1,500 – $5,000.

Sump pump installation

If you live in a flood-prone area, you’ll also need to install a sump pump in your basement. The unit alone will cost you anywhere from $250 – $375, and if you hire a professional to handle the installation, the prices rise to about $600 – $2,000.

Egress window

For homeowners who intend to use their basement as an office or an extra living space, you are, by law, required to install an egress window or emergency exit window. Its purpose is to provide an exit for people in the event of an emergency like a fire.

The cost of installing an egress window stands at between $100 – $800 per window for pre-fabricated models and between $500 – $2,000 for custom models.

Overall, the national average for the egress window installation stands at around $3,900 or between $2,500 and $5,300.

Ceiling

Installing a ceiling in your basement will cost you anywhere from $1 – $2 per sq. ft. But depending on the type of ceiling, these costs can get as high as $6 per sq. ft. For a 500 sq. ft basement, these costs range between $500 – $1,000.

Lighting/Electricals

Installing your lighting fixtures may cost you around $90 – $250 per fixture or up to $500 per fixture if you opt for a fancy model. In total, this adds to around $2,880 for your basement.

Installing other electrical parts will cost you about $1,325 and installing outlets will add an extra $1,100 to your total costs.

Painting

Most contractors will charge you anywhere from $3 – $7 per sq. ft to paint your basement. For a 500 sq. ft basement, you can expect to spend between $1,500 – $3,500.

Plumbing

When remodeling your basement, a key part of your costs will involve moving the pipes or centering the designs around the existing plumbing. Either way, hiring a professional to install the plumbing will cost you between $450 – $1,000 per fixture.

For the entire project, your total expense could range between $3,000 and $15,000.

Permits

Depending on where you live, you might also require to obtain permits for the electrical and plumbing works you intend to do. This will set you back roughly $1,200 – $2,000.

Additional cost factors

Besides the cost factors mentioned above, other items that will increase how much you will spend on your basement finishing include:

Damage repairs and replacements

If your basement requires some repairs or replacements before the finishing, conducting these services will increase your expenditures.

For instance, any structural problems, termite infestation, or mold and mildew problems need to be addressed before you finish the basement.

To sort out any of these issues, a professional contractor will charge you at least $3,000.

Hazardous material inspection and removal

For homes that are older (constructed before the 70s), you might also need to conduct a lead or asbestos test on the basement walls. If found, you’ll need to hire a professional to remediate that situation.

Most experts will charge you between $7 – $15 per sq. ft or between $3,500 – $7,500 for a 500-sq. Ft basement.

Luxury additions and enhancements

Installing other high-end features in your basement like recessed lighting, appliances, cabinets, and a kitchen will also add to the total cost of finishing your basement.

Can I finish the basement myself?

Yes and no. While there are many aspects of the job you can complete without help, you’ll eventually need the help of a skilled professional.

This could be in the electrical installations or plumbing, or even drywall installations (unless you have experience in all of these fields).

So technically, you’ll still do a lot of the work yourself, but with a little help from professionals in the aspects of the job where you don’t have experience.

Can I finish the basement myself

FAQ”s

Finishing your 1,500 sq. ft basement will cost you anywhere from $15,000 – $45,000 depending on your contractor’s labor rates.

If you opt to DIY finish your basement, you can expect to spend at least $3,000 on the lower end and around $12,000 on the high end. This indicates a savings of nearly 40% from what you’d have paid a professional.

Finishing a basement with a bathroom tends to be quite costly and will set you back anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000.

Finishing a basement ceiling costs anywhere from $1 – $2 per sq. ft or around $1,500 – $3,000 for a 1,500 sq. ft house.

Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.