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Keeping Your Basement Remodel Within Budget: 5 Tips


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Did you ever ask yourself "how much does it cost to finish a basement?" Only to find out that the cost to finish a basement doesn't match your budget! Or worse, you've started remodeling your basement and you're now realizing that the budget you originally set won't cover your project.

Whether you are doing the work yourself or hiring contractors, home improvement can be expensive. But there are ways to make your basement a usable space AND not break the bank. The 5 tips below will help you remodel your basement while keeping your budget in check.

How Much Does it Cost to Finish a Basement?

Determining your budget and how much you want to invest in your basement remodel is the first step. If you plan on living in your home for the next 10 years, you can approach your budget very differently. In this case, it's not necessary to consider the resale value of your home in relation to the amount you spend on the project.

However, if you know you'll be selling your home within 10 years, factoring in the resale value becomes a critical step when determining your budget. A good rule of thumb when setting a budget is to take into account that a finished basement will make up 10 to 15% of a home's value.

Therefore, if your home is worth $300,000, you could safely spend $30,000 to $45,000 on the project and improve the resale value of your home, without overspending.

Of course, that doesn't mean that you "have" to spend that amount of money, it just means that you could without overspending in relation to your home's value. It's also worth noting that most home owners spend between $10,500 to $27,000 when remodelling a basement.

Tips for Staying Within Your Budget

These 5 tips will help you stay within your budget when remodelling your basement.

Stay Within the Scope of the Project

Every home improvement project has three elements in common. They are:

  1. Time - How long will you spend on your project from start-to-finish.
  2. Budget - How much money will you spend on your project.
  3. Scope - The project itself.

The Scope of a project can get out of hand quickly. It can also prevent you from meeting your time schedule and your budget. Be very clear about your plans for your basement. Don't fall victim to adding the planned sink and then deciding to add the unplanned kitchen!

Be realistic about what you want to accomplish, and stick to your plan.

Making major construction changes, such as changing stairwells, can add up additional expenses quickly. Work within the structural boundaries of your space, and don't change directions once you've started your project.

You're bound to have unexpected things come up that you may want to include in the renovation, but be selective in what you choose. If your budget included a buffer of 5-10% for "surprises" you can assess the situation and decide if this is where you want to spend your money.


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Do Your Research

Before you begin, start gathering ideas. Go to trade shows, visit homes with basements, read home improvement magazines, and check out websites such as Pinterest to find what you like and what you would like to incorporate into your project.

Once you know what you want, start researching the project and materials. For example, if you plan on building a kitchen, consider how often you would use it . . . would you entertain in your basement? If so, how often would you have guests over? If it's only a few times a year, adding a counter instead of an entire kitchen might make more sense from a budget perspective.

Is it necessary to add a bathroom to your basement? If you have a guest bedroom downstairs, then yes you may want to spend the money. But if you are planning on using your basement for entertaining, or as a gym, or office, you may not want to spend your budget in this area, it could save you as much as $5,000!

Use Open Space

Instead of adding walls to separate an office or gym, simply leave the space open. The cost of studs, electrical wiring, drywall, and doors can become quite expensive, and once built, you'll be limited by the amount of space within the room. If you use open space instead of walls, you can always add an additional treadmill to expand your gym!

Basement Flooring Options

Don't splurge on "the best" when choosing your basement flooring supplies. You can often cut corners without affecting your project. Using a less expensive tile will function and look the same as the higher priced tile, and choosing a lower priced carpet can be very effective, especially if you install a premium pad under the carpet.

Don't Customize

Use standard sizes. Cabinets and counters are usually pre-fabricated in standard sizes. You can save a lot of money by simply purchasing a cabinet or counter that has already been manufactured.

Three Basement "Must Haves"

Budgeting and saving money is a major part of home renovation, but it's important to take into consideration other aspects as well, especially factors that may be legally required. Planning ahead for these things will help you not only save money in the long run but will also prevent the headache that comes along with the unexpected.

These 3 things should be addressed with every basement remodel:

7-Foot Ceilings

Spaces that include bathrooms, hallways, laundry rooms or bedrooms are considered living spaces, and they are governed by the IRC, International Residential Code. This code requires that your basement's ceiling be 7-foot high or higher if it's a living space. There is however, some leeway for beams and ducts, etc.

Emergency Exit

Now that your basement is a living space, the codes have changed. In order for your new basement to pass inspection, it must have a means of escape in case of an emergency besides the staircase. In addition, if you have bedrooms, each bedroom will need its own escape exit, such as a egress window.


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This is more of a peace-of-mind issue, but you should make sure that your basement is waterproofed. It's a good idea to address this issue, even if your basement doesn't flood, prior to starting your renovations. The only thing worse than a flooded basement, is a newly remodeled flooded basement!

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