Cost-Effective Ways to Finish a Basement

Cost-Effective Ways to Finish a Basement

Finsh your basement properly without breaking the bank

By Robert Ferguson

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Transform your basement into a usable space by finishing it the right way and without blowing your budget. Finishing a basement can be a rewarding home improvement project. It adds additional living space that would otherwise house unwanted or rarely-used items. It can also add additional, much-needed space to your home for use as guest bedrooms, game rooms, or a home office or study. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Adding additional square footage of living space may also increase the value of your home. That said, it's important to make sure that the finished project is done right so you can actually put your former basement to use the way you imagined.


Plumbers and electricians are very expensive and the work usually requires obtaining a permit. If you can, minimize their role in this type of project as much as possible. Design your basement conversion to take advantage of existing plumbing lines, electrical lines and ductwork. For example, if your basement design includes a bathroom, try to place it close to any existing water supply and drain lines. Create a reasonable budget, and add a little extra for unforeseen circumstances.


Labor is one of the highest costs associated with this project. Outside labor or contractors can easily consume 50 to 70 percent of your costs. The more work you do yourself, the more you'll save. If hiring outside labor is unavoidable, consider hiring retired tradesmen or construction workers who may not have the overhead of a construction company. If the designs are complicated, though, hire a basement contractor. These professionals have the knowledge, experience and motivation to complete the job in a timely fashion and are well worth the expense.


Recruit friends and family to lend a hand, especially those who are have home remodeling experience or have the requisite tools. Take advantage of any out-of-school students in your neighborhood. They may not have remodeling experience, but just having an extra set of hands at a reasonable cost is worth it.


Shop home improvement stores for clearance, returned or slightly damaged building materials. Such stores often have a section devoted to this merchandise. For example, check the paint department for returned paint. The stores sell this returned paint at almost their cost, which means big savings for you. It never hurst to ask the store manager for any scratch-and-dent items that might not be on the floor yet. Check with other building, flooring, plumbing and electrical suppliers in your area. Flooring suppliers usually have a wide selection of discontinued material.


Basements are usually cold, damp and carry a draft. Take extra time to waterproof damp walls, seal any cracks and install insulation. Use plenty of insulation. It is not very expensive and the benefits are tremendous. Insulating properly will more than pay for itself in energy savings.

About the Author

Robert Ferguson is a licensed building contractor with more than 30 years of experience, focusing primarily on residential remodeling, repair, renovation and construction.

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