4 Hidden Costs Of Basement Remodeling

When it seems like your house is bursting at the seams, an unfinished basement provides plenty of opportunity for expansion. The average basement remodeling job comes with a $65,000 price tag as of 2015, but also comes with an average 72 percent boost in home value, not to mention all that extra space. This sum covers everything from paint and flooring to a new basement bathroom, drywall and upgraded heating and cooling.

As you put together a budget for your new finished basement, it's also helpful to understand the items that aren't covered in this figure. While not every home will require you to shell out for these extras, being aware of the potential added costs that come with a basement renovation can help you secure proper financing or correctly plan your budget.

Moisture Protection

Ignoring moisture problems in a basement when you renovate is likely to lead to trouble down the road. Excess moisture can cause mold, while more serious moisture problems mean leaks, rot and damage to new finishes. Have a contractor fix any obvious moisture problems, such as leaks, pooling water or malfunctioning sump pumps before you remodel. This is also the best time to repair cracks in your foundation, which not only pose structural risk, but can also allow unwanted water into your home.


Most residential building codes require you to provide multiple means of egress in case of a fire. That means your basement stairs alone won't do. If your home isn't situated in a way that will allow you to add an aboveground exit from the basement, you'll need to install window wells. This means widening existing openings in exterior walls, or adding them if they aren't present. You'll also need to hire an excavating contractor to create a well outside the window where a person can exit and climb out to safety. Always check local codes when renovating your basement to understand egress requirements.

Head Room

Basements tend to have notoriously low ceilings, which can quickly put a damper on your remodeling plans. You'll generally need at least 7'6" to 8' ceilings, though 9' to 10' feet is even better. If you don't have this space, you may be able to work with an excavating contractor to achieve it by digging further down underground. Keep in mind that this may require installing new footings or underpinning the home for structural stability.

Mechanical Moves

When a builder constructed your home, they probably weren't thinking too much about the state of your basement if it was left unfinished. This likely means that your furnace, air conditioner, hot water heater and other mechanical equipment aren't necessarily grouped together in a corner of the room. You could also have to contend with pipes and sump pumps that run awkwardly through your space. Finally, low-hanging ductwork and pipes could interfere with head room. Depending on how your equipment is arranged, you may have to have an HVAC or electrical contractor relocate these items before you renovate to make maximum use of your space.