Never Underestimate the Value of a Finished Basement

For many people remodeling the basement is secondary to getting the rest of the house in tip-top shape.  While this may true, a finished or at least partially finished basement can make or break a real estate deal, regardless if you are on the selling or buying end of the sale.

I speak from personal experience, as the basement in both our first and second homes played a substantial part in the real estate process.  Our first home, although structurally sound, needed a lot of updates!  The basement, however, was mostly finished except for an old stall shower that stood alone at the base of the stairs.  Since the plumbing was already there, we removed the shower, added a toilet, sink, and Jacuzzi tub.  Oh yes, there was also the built-in TV that sat directly across from the tub for your viewing pleasure.  Is it any wonder we named it “The man’s bathroom”?  When it came to selling our home, the first “man” that saw it loved it, didn’t even ask for a discount, and put down a deposit the same day!

After the experience with our first home, we made sure our second one was nearly move-in ready.  It was not the location we originally sought, but when we saw the basement with its sectioned off storage areas, carpeted and tiled flooring, finished dry wall, and a built-in bar for entertaining, it sealed the deal!

Whether you want to add a play room for the kids, a home theatre for the adults, or workout room for everyone to enjoy, below are some basic remodeling additions you will want to consider for your basement:

Ceilings – Though drywall ceilings have a nice finished look ceiling panels are easily replaceable, and if you have a plumbing problem, a ceiling panel can easily be popped out and back into place whereas drywall replacement involves cut-out, reinstalling, repeated patching, sanding, refinishing, and repainting.  The cost of ceiling tiles is about $1,000-$1,700 for an average 12’x14’ room.  Most contractors will charge between $2 and $5 per square foot for labor.  Drywall materials cost $0.25 to $0.65 per square foot, with installation ringing in at an additional $0.85 to $1.50 per square foot.  But if you tackle the job yourself, you could pay $150 to $250, depending on the size of the job.  For more accurate pricing information, get a couple of cost estimates for your project.

Walls – There are several different options for finishing basement walls.  Drywall, paneling or painting are the three most common.  Standard pieces of drywall are sold in pieces that are ½” X 4’ X 8’.  Drywall costs $6 to $15 per sheet.  Paneling costs will vary on the type chosen.  Masonry paint which can be waterproof as well as decorative, costs an average of $125 for a 5-gal can which covers up to 625 ft.

Flooring – Regardless of which flooring type you choose it’s important to take your time and select a system that will perform well.  Installing carpet in a basement that occasionally gets flooded is a serious mistake and one you may regret.  Tile can be more forgiving in a flood situation, but can separate at the seams if installed improperly.  If you don’t have a moisture problem in your basement, you can use garage floor paint, which is an epoxy-based paint that will seal the concrete and provide a durable finish and  it’s relatively inexpensive.  Figure about $250 for a garage-sized area.  This includes all the necessary prep materials.  Be sure to ask for recommendations from your local flooring suppliers and follow all of the manufacturer’s specifications.

Plumbing – When it comes to installing sinks, toilets, bathtubs, or bars; unless you are a licensed contractor yourself, adding plumbing to a basement is best left to a professional.  They know what permits are needed and will make sure everything up to code.  For more information on professional plumbing costs, visit

Lighting – Track lights are perfect for giving a basement a professional look while allowing versatility.  Spotlights and directional lights can be a great way to add a professional look and additional function to your basement lighting plan.  Recessed lighting is a great option for the basic illumination of your basement.  These lights will be flush with your basement ceiling, maximizing headroom space in a shallow basement.  On the low-end you could spend as little as $200 for some fluorescent lights or high-end, up to $2,000 installing recessed lighting.  As a general rule, it’s best to spend a little more to upgrade from fluorescent.  You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to sell!

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