The answer is… it depends – but let me explain.
When an estimator from ElkStone visits your home for a free comprehensive consultation for a basement finish (sometimes referred to as a basement remodel or basement refinish) they’ll ask you a number of questions. What they want to find out is exactly what you want and need for the new finished basement space. Then your estimator will walk the unfinished basement with you to see what you have in mind; they’ll also provide suggestions based on hundreds of basement designs they’ve drawn previously.
Interestingly, a medium sized basement of about 1000 square feet is usually pretty simple to plan for because there are only so many places to locate the bedroom and bathroom. The basement bedroom has to be located next to an egress window, or a new egress window has to be cut in. We like to “go with the flow” to keep it simple and keep costs down. Typically a basement finish will include a bedroom, bath, and rec area. There are a plethora of other items you can add like a wet bar, fireplace, theater, billiards area, and the list goes on.
To see photos of a variety of basement options, please visit our Gallery.
Ironically, small basements and large unfinished basements are more of a challenge to design. With large unfinished basements, there are so many options that it can become a little overwhelming. However, what we like to do is a design a rough draft for your basement plan and see what you think. Most of the time when you’re considering a basement plan, it’s an ongoing process. Occasionally we’ll get it right the first time but oftentimes we go back and forth with you to discover exactly the plan you’ll be satisfied with.
The design is one of the most important issues to consider when finishing your basement. Make sure you’re comfortable with that before building because you’re the one who has to live with it and see it every day. ElkStone can render your basement design plan in 3D so we can fly over it and walk through it to help you conceptualize the basement space. ElkStone’s basement estimators have designed hundreds of basement plans so they’re experts and have clever ways to design around challenging features in the basement such as structural posts and furnaces.
Once you approve a rough draft, they’ll complete the estimate which is a 400-line item basement cost worksheet. This is ElkStone’s way of determining exactly what it will cost to build your basement. We can tell you how many linear feet of baseboard we’ll need, the exact number of light switches, and even how many sheets of drywall it’ll take for us to build your basement. We like to be precise when it comes to pricing your basement! Once we give you a price to finish your basement, that price won’t change. Our basement proposal priced is fixed and won’t change.
Once we give you a price to finish your basement, that price won’t change.
Our comprehensive basement estimate does two important things for us. First, since we know exactly what it will cost to build your basement, we can be more competitive since we don’t have to add in more margin because of uncertainty. Second, we know we’ll always be profitable as a business which allows us to provide the full level of service which you deserve.
When contractors don’t do their homework and find out during construction that they aren’t making any money on your job, they’ll switch priorities to other jobs and leave your basement project neglected and you frustrated. In extreme cases, they’ll cut corners and or walk off your job. I know, because we’ve finished basements where another basement contractor started the job and then went missing. The appeal of their low price they offer can be irresistible, and if they have references that’ll seal the deal – and the unfortunate circumstances that will follow. But since ElkStone knows exactly what it will cost to build your basement we can competently complete the basement project while making the job mutually satisfying.
Now, back to the original question:
“How much does a basement finish cost?”
Okay, so now you know how we get to our pricing – but here are some guidelines that will further explain basement prices. A price per square, or PSF, is a common means of quoting a basement price. The only problem with this is that it’s not accurate. It’s merely a ballpark price. ElkStone does, however, track PSF – but only after we have completed our comprehensive worksheet, then we look backwards to see what is the basement PSF. We use PSF as a point of reference and not a means to price a basement. The smaller the basement, the higher the PSF cost because of large fixed costs such as a bathroom, fireplace, or wet bar for example. Regardless of size, the price for these items doesn’t change so if you put them in a small basement there will be a high PSF and inversely with a large basement. There might be a linear equation if all basement costs weren’t fixed but that’s simply not the case. Take the cost of a basement bathroom for example. It’s a large fixed cost that will be same whether it’s in a 2500 square foot basement or a 500 square foot basement so that’ll throw off the PSF formula.
If you receive a basement estimate price in the $20.00 PSF range – beware! It is possible, but you’ll need to do your due diligence and there’ll be a few items you’ll have to compromise on. Check for licensing and insurance. If a contractor offers you a cheap basement finish price then asks you to pull the permit or put the basement finish permit under your name, then they’re not licensed. This could also mean they’ll be doing work only licensed contractors are permitted to do such as electrical wiring and plumbing.
You wouldn’t believe some of the safety hazards and absurd building methods we’ve seen over the years!
We ask ourselves, “What was this guy thinking when he built this?” Just ridiculous stuff! It would seem an electrical fire and plumbing flood would be imminent with some of the stuff we’ve seen. What is compromised is the timeline and maybe the quality, too. Usually the low price guys do all the work themselves which may seem appealing at first because you’re only working with one or two guys, but that also means your basement will take forever – six month or more.
The one unique feature that makes ElkStone special and stand out from the one guy who does it all as well as all basement contractors in Denver is that ElkStone will finish your basement in FIVE (5) WEEKS. This is three times faster than normal! The others typically take 8 – 12 weeks. So you get to move in two months early with ElkStone, and we don’t charge extra for that, either. Three months is a long time to have contractors coming in and out of your house, making noise and dust. You will be so ready for that to be over that it often makes for a bad experience.
ElkStone will finish your basement in FIVE (5) WEEKS.
This brings me to another side note, the “ElkStone Experience.” We provide uncompromising craftsmanship at a great price, and we try and make the construction a good experience as well. What other contractor has that as one of their top priories? We can’t guarantee a pleasant experience because when you’er working with people and dealing with construction – things can go wrong. But we pride ourselves on how we handle that. I’ll cover this in another basement and remodeling blog.
Back to pricing; the other end of basement cost is upwards of $80 PSF. This price could be from a really small basement with a lot of features or a high end custom basement. You would typically see a high price like this from a basement contractor who has a showroom with full time architects and interior designers or a basement finisher who’s taking advantage of you because they think you have unlimited money. Our basements simply don’t get this high because our pricing is fixed based on cost plus markup. Regardless of the home you live in or your budget amount, our price “is what it is.” ElkStone believes in offering you our “best price first” so there won’t be any gimmicks to get you to “sign up with us today” or a “sale, today only”.
So in conclusion, you should expect your basement finish to start at around $65 per square foot – but it totally depends on how many square feet you’ll be finishing in your basement and how many features you choose to include.