In General, It Is $30 to $70 Per Square Foot To Finish a Basement


2 Huge Factors That Will Affect Price

  • Size and Experience Of The Contractor

    • Hiring a GC will usually cost the most, DIY with a Construction Manager or a smaller GC somewhere in the middle and DIY the least. $45 to $60 is a good starting point for a professional finish with a midsize GC.
      • The largest GC’s should have all the bases covered and have expert construction managers, but will also have the highest overhead costs. A mid-size GC might be a good choice if he has a good construction manager.
    • Hiring a Project Planner/Construction Manager will cost slightly less, and $30 to $40 might cover the cost of a DIY project.
    • Smaller General Contractors and Remodeling handymen should cost less than larger GC’s, but level of expertise and skill vary greatly if one person is trying to do most of the work
      So who I should use for my basement finish?

      • The lower end of this spectrum is where cost estimates may be way off, trade contractors may be shady, and schedules can fall apart. Ideally, you want someone who is an expert at all phases of planning and managing a basement finish. This is where years of experience make a big difference.
    •  Do-It-Yourself
      • The cost for a DIY basement will, of course, be the least expensive but can be overwhelming to someone without construction knowledge and experience. Results are usually not up to par with a professional finish.
    • A common misperception is “aren’t all builders the same?” This could not be further from the truth. An expert construction manager will do the most thorough planning, use the best trade contractors at the best price, ensure the best quality and maintain the best schedule. A sole proprietor or “one man band” may be a great carpenter but a poor construction manager. Find the best construction manager and you will get the best basement finish.
  • The Scope Of Your Work

    • For example – remodeling a basement costs more than finishing an unfinished space because of the demolition of the previous finish. One of the added costs is for demolition, figure about $300 to $500 per day for a demo. The presence of lead paint or asbestos will add greatly to this cost.
    • A wet bar can add $3,000 to $10,000 or more, cost varies from a walk up bar to a stand behind bar.
    • Add $1500 to $2500 to relocate a furnace
    • Add $300 to $500 to add an egress window
    • A fireplace will add between $3000 to $500 or more

So Why do Bids For The Same Job Vary so Much?

  • As you know, who you choose to manage and do the work of your basement finish, will affect the price dramatically.
  • Also, there is no consistency in pricing in the industry.
    • Contractors do not receive any kind of training in this area, they all come up with their pricing structure on their own.
  • Cost calculation differences
    • Most general contractors will include all cost categories in their bid and then add in padding for any road bumps.
    • Using a Project Planner/Construction Manager will virtually eliminate the builder overhead, builder profit, and contingency costs.
    • Inexperienced builders may totally miss some of the categories, and even miss some of the trade contractor or material costs. This is where why you hear horror stories of huge cost overruns or contractors walking off jobs without completing the work.
    • Taking one of the lowest bids because the builder seemed like a “nice guy” is a recipe for disaster. The highest bid is probably because of high overhead costs and higher profit margins.

In Conclusion

  • There are no established prices for home renovations, and pricing will vary drastically according to the level of expertise and project management skills the individual or company has.
  • Ideally, you want to find that sweet spot where you aren’t being charged extra due to an overly cautious contractor, but you’re also not paying pennies for an unorganized handyman who surprises you with new costs at every corner.