Skip links
basement renovation cost

A look at basement renovation costs

Ultimate Guide to Basement Renovation 

Basement renovations are among Canada’s most common home modifications. Understandably, they are also one of the more extravagant changes. Keep reading about how basement finishing costs can be covered by your own home equity and how Alpine Credits can give you access to it through a loan. 

What is involved in a basement renovation? 

Every homeowner sees their basement differently, from a storage space to an unfinished basement waiting for a makeover. For some, a renovation means adding a pool table or a stone fireplace. Others may want more functional changes, like creating a basement wine cellar, a game room, or a home gym.  

The space allows you to be creative toward your basement aspirations, to restore, redecorate, or rebuild. Regardless of your ideas, they require financial support, and a renovation loan from your home equity may be the solution.  

Basement renovation ideas 

Your basement has the potential to be more than just the extra space on the lower floor. As a homeowner, you can: 

  • Update the fireplace—changing your fireplace may include replacing your existing one, like a gas fireplace, with a wood one. You can also repaint or change the mantel to fit a new aesthetic.   
  • Create a playroom—with a growing family, you can set aside a space for children to play. This can include a small indoor jungle gym or more cozy furniture for the kids to relax.  
  • Give the walls more texture—the basement can have more than white walls. Some homeowners make some of the walls brick or wood to add more design or to give it a certain feel. 
  • Set up a wet bar—if you regularly host and like to explore drink creations, you can have a bar complete with a wine fridge, proper cabinetry, and tools to make the drinks.  
  • Add more lighting—to keep the basement from appearing dark and uninviting, you can add pot lights and other decorative light fixtures.  
Couple repainting the walls of their house

The cost of basement renovations 

How much does it cost to finish a basement?

A basement renovation project can cost between $35 and $55 per square foot in Canada. Ultimately, the total depends on the size of the basement, the materials and equipment you use, and the extent of the project.  

Basic basement finishing is on the lower end of the budget range, like turning the space into a family room or home office. At the same time, the higher figures involve creating a full basement apartment with a bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. 

Square footage  Range of costs 
400  $14,000 – $22,000 
500  $17,500 – $27,500 
700  $24,500 – $38,500 
800  $28,000 – $44,000 
1000  $35,000 – $55,000 
1200  $42,000 – $66,000 
1500  $52,500 – $82,500 

A basement renovation is among the best investments you can make in your home. The changes increase the value of your property, refresh the design, and elevate the comfort of the living space. You can also turn the basement into a rental unit, which allows you to accept a tenant and generate additional income. 

Basement renovation cost factors  

Let’s look more thoroughly at the cost of finishing a basement. While each item’s cost will vary depending on the general contractor, these figures offer a reasonable estimate. Whether you’re completely redoing your basement or updating the space, the numbers will still apply.  

Item  Typical cost 
Framing  $15-$30 per linear foot 
Plumbing (including sump pump installation and bathroom fixture connections)  $10,000-$15,000 or more, depending on how many bathrooms and lighting fixtures you install 
Drywall  $1.50/sq.ft. 
Insulation  $1.45-$3.50/sq.ft. 
Ceilings  $2-$/sq.ft., depending on the type of ceiling you want 
Electrical  $65-$85/hour for a reliable, certified electrician 
Tile flooring  $5 – $20/sq.ft., depending on the material and quality 
Engineered wood floors  $3-$5/sq.ft. 
Carpet  $3-$4/sq.ft. 
Painting  $3-$5/sq.ft. 
Foundation pouring/repair  $5000-$20,000 (note: this isn’t always needed, especially with newer homes) 
Building permit  $1200-$2000 
Waterproofing  $1000-$25,000, depending on the basement’s size and your home’s location 

 

Framing 

Framing a basement is like creating its skeleton and needs the most meticulous planning. Wooden beams form the foundation on which insulation and electric work rest. If you’re doing the framing yourself, be sure to measure everything appropriately.  

Based on your basement’s size, you can expect to spend between $1000 and $1500 on framing, including materials and labor.

Plumbing

Plumbing is the system of pipes, drains, and faucets that provide water to a household while draining away liquid waste. They are a major driver of basement finishing costs, especially if you’re adding a kitchen or bathroom. Adding or removing pipes is a major transformation and usually requires the help of experts to install.  

Generally, you can expect to spend between $1000 and $5000 on a kitchenette or $12,000 and $20,000 on a full-sized kitchen. Meanwhile, a basement bathroom will cost you between $10,000 and $15,000.  

Depending on how extravagant you want, the project costs between $10,000 and $35,000 for plumbing alone, but it will cost less if the space is built with existing plumbing features. 

Drywall 

Indoor walls are made of a material called drywall, which is portioned into large panels and screwed to the frame. They are installed in layers; you can paint the last layer to fit your aesthetic basement ideas. You may be able to accomplish this step by yourself to be more economical.  

Drywall is a cheaper basement finishing cost, just about $1.50 per square foot. As such, you’ll pay between $2000 and $4000 for a drywall installation for your entire basement. 

Insulation 

Insulation fills the space between the wooden frames and behind the drywall panels. You can find different types of insulation that accommodate your budget.  

Adding insulation is a crucial step in Canada since winters can become frigid in certain areas. There are many types of insulation, with rigid and spray foam being the cheapest at about $1.40 to $2.20 per square foot. Fibreglass insulation is the most expensive type, costing between $1.80 and $3.50 per square foot. 

Altogether, you might expect to pay between $2,000 and $8,000 for insulation, depending on your basement’s size and the type you choose. 

Ceilings 

Although plain ceilings are the most common among households, you can bring the design together by choosing an accent ceiling instead. Ceilings can also add function, like drop ceilings that are made to hide wiring or plumbing.  

You can choose from a variety of basement ceiling styles. Plain drywall will be your cheapest option as your ceilings become an extension of your basement walls for installation. You’ll pay between $2-3 per square foot here. On the other hand, drop ceilings are more expensive at between $2 and $5 per square foot.  

You can expect to pay between $900 and $2500 on your basement’s ceiling, with the higher end generally associated with drop ceilings. 

Electrical work 

Your new basement will need an adequate electric connection in the basement to power your lights and other appliances, and that may need an expert’s help to create new wiring. You won’t likely need an electrician unless you’re not changing the overhead lighting or adding new outlets.  

Hiring a licensed electrician to wire your basement is worth it, as you’ll avoid safety hazards. At rates ranging between $65 and $85 per hour, you can expect to pay $1000 to $2000 for wiring your entire basement. 

Flooring 

Whether you need to replace your carpet or give the basement a more modern look, your choice of flooring adds to your intentions.  

Carpet is typically the most affordable flooring type. Just remember that basements tend to become damp in basement environments, which doesn’t mix well with carpet. You can invest in solid waterproofing and humidity control to maintain the quality of your carpet.  

Otherwise, you can choose tile or engineered wood flooring, which are just as popular. They are more expensive than carpet flooring, so be sure to budget accordingly.

Foundation pouring or repair 

A proper foundation is crucial for any house; sometimes, they’ll need redoing, especially if the property is older. Replacing or repairing it is one of the highest costs to finish a basement, but not every renovation project requires it. 

You won’t need to pour a new foundation unless your home is constructed using the slab-on-grade technique. This is more common in places like Florida than Canada, where you’ll typically see homes built with basement foundations from the get-go. 

However, if you need to repair or pour a brand-new foundation, costs can range from $5000 to over $25,000. 

Painting 

Changing the colours of the wall is one of the simplest and most common basement renovations. Although simple, changing the colour, retouching the existing one, or designing your own accent wall can make the space feel newer.  

If you have experience with painting, you can buy paint and apply a couple of coats on the wall by yourself. Whether you hire professionals or do it yourself, painting your basement should cost between $320 and $700. 

Building permits 

Securing a building permit is essential before renovating your basement. In Canada, getting one is done at a municipal level and will have different fees and requirements. Going through the proper procedure will keep you from legal trouble, particularly if you plan on renting the basement out as an apartment. 

Finishing a basement without the proper permits will also limit your ability to use the renovation as a selling point for your house. Future buyers may see it as a liability. 

Permits are relatively inexpensive compared to other basement finishing costs, ranging from $1200 to $2000, depending on your municipality. 

Waterproofing 

While the house is being built, one of the important steps is to provide a layer of protection against water damage. As houses age, you may need to reinforce the protective barrier to prevent deterioration from happening.  

Depending on your basement’s existing waterproofing situation, you might spend $1000 to $25,000 to ensure waterproofness. Water damage is a common occurrence for almost all basements, so consider investing in quality materials to prevent excessive wear in a short amount of time.  

Other furnishings and finished basement ideas 

Not every basement remodel involves tearing down and doing a complete remodelling. Sometimes, you may only want to add comfortable seating, bookshelves, or a mini fridge. If you’re not making major changes in your basement, exclusively changing the furniture will be the most economical option. Even so, replacing everything all at once requires enough financing.

Optional: Interior designer 

Wanting expert insight is helpful when making a significant change to your home. It’s understandable that you prefer someone else’s basement design ideas rather than making your own.  

Hiring an interior designer is a bigger expense but can benefit the basement’s outcome. Some homeowners like having the assistance of a designer as they plan their renovations, which typically results in a more aesthetically pleasing basement. 

You can hire a designer at an hourly rate between $50-$500, depending on the designer’s expertise and experience. Some professionals will charge per square foot at $5 to $15. You might expect to pay roughly $7,000 for an interior designer to style your basement. 

Basement apartment renovation costs 

If you have enough room in your basement, you can also turn it into a liveable space for a family member or a tenant.  

Item  Typical cost 
Bathroom  $10,000-$15,000 per bathroom 
Basement Kitchenette  $45,000 
Laundry Room  $1000-$7000 
Egress Windows  $4000 
Total  $60,000-$100,000+ 

When deciding which basement renovation costs take priority, consider your goal. Creating more living space will require more labour and material costs, while a simple paint retouch is more budget-friendly.  

You can expect to spend an estimated $60,000 for a basic basement apartment. That includes additional costs beyond what we mentioned in the previous section, such as: 

  • Kitchen countertops and cabinets 
  • Appliances (refrigerator, stove, etc.) 
  • A dedicated entrance and fire escape 
  • Additional windows for natural light 
  • Furniture (beds, couches, etc.) 
  • A laundry room (and necessary ventilation) 

You might spend $100,000 or more for a more luxurious basement apartment. 

Remember the local building codes you must follow when considering the cost to finish a basement and make it an apartment. 

For example, you’ll need an egress window large enough for a tenant to escape through in an emergency. The National Building Code of Canada also requires that a ladder be present to offer easy access to this window. 

These are all added costs you need to consider when turning your basement into an apartment. Failing to account for these costs appropriately can necessitate an expensive reworking of your basement if an inspection deems it unsuitable for inhabitation. 

Cost of finishing a basement remodelling project 

If you’re renovating your basement for use as a recreational room or home office, you’ll spend less than if you were creating an apartment. You might sneak under $30,000 at the cheaper end, while more substantial renovations of larger basements can cost as much as $82,500. 

Comparing DIY basement renovation costs vs. hiring professionals 

If you have experience in construction, you might be able to save a bit of money by taking a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to renovating your basement. See the chart below for a breakdown of materials-only costs vs. materials-plus-labor costs. 

Square Footage  DIY Cost  Professional Cost 
400  $7000 – $11,000  $14,000 – $22,000 
500  $8500 – $13,750  $17,500 – $27,500 
700  $12,250 – $19,250  $24,500 – $38,500 
800  $14,000 – $22,000  $28,000 – $44,000 
1000  $17,500 – $27,500  $35,000 – $55,000 
1200  $21,000 – $33,000  $42,000 – $66,000 
1500  $26,250 – $41,250  $52,500 – $82,500 

DIY basement renovations generally cost about half of hiring a professional, but cost is not the only consideration here. You may need more time than a professional to make the changes, and remember that some renovations come with strict code regulations. A professional will better understand these regulations than you, saving you energy and money. 

Benefits of redoing the basement 

A newly redone basement can bring you different benefits other than the satisfaction of finishing a home project. 

  • Potential income opportunity—some homeowners intend to turn the basement into a space they can rent out. You can turn the space into a liveable unit or modify a room or two to accommodate homestay students or travellers.  
  • Increase of property valueraising the value of your home is a smart investment choice since the house is usually people’s most significant asset. If you plan to rent out the basement, you can also increase the rent.  
  • More energy efficiency—part of renovating includes changing fixtures and appliances. Newer ones are more sustainable, helping you save money on hydro and electricity.  
  • Modern design update—when you give your basement a new look, you’ll enjoy how it looks and feels. Additionally, modern appearances are more attractive to potential tenants.  
  • Maximize existing space—your basement is more than just a storage space. Sometimes, the basement is up to code and has some necessary amenities. The basement is the perfect spot to bring some of your ideas to life. 

Finance a basement renovation with a home equity loan 

An average basement renovation can cost up to $100,000, so most Canadians need financial assistance from banks or alternative lenders. Traditional lenders are a possible option, but they have high qualification criteria. Instead, alternative lenders like Alpine Credits offer homeowners access to their home equity.

Applying for a home equity loan from Alpine Credits 

Home equity loans are among the most popular means of financing various home renovations. They work by providing access to the equity you’ve built up in your home. This equity can be quite substantial, easily covering renovation costs in many cases.  

  • Comparatively lower interest rates—home equity loans have relatively lower rates than unsecured personal loans and credit cards. With fixed interest rates, your monthly payments stay steady and allow you to budget accordingly.  
  • More flexible lending criteria—getting approved for a home equity loan relies more on how much equity you have rather than your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, or employment status. You do not need to provide anything other than personal information and the appraised value of your home. 
  • Financing for any purpose—you may have to pass certain criteria before getting the funding for major renovation projects. However, home equity loans give you a lot of flexibility and can be applied to any expense during the renovation.  
  • Potentially more funding—the more equity you have, the bigger your maximum loan amount can be. While you don’t have to borrow the entire equity value, you can be assured that a home equity loan can meet your renovation needs.

Alpine Credits does not consider your credit score, income, or type of employment when you apply for a home equity loan. You also don’t need to provide a building plan, making home equity loans an accessible and substantial loan. You only need to own at least 25% of your home, and you can be eligible for one.  

You can contact a Financial Solutions Specialist at Alpine Credits if you have more questions. They are experts on home equity financing and can answer your questions or walk you through the application process.  

Advantages of home equity loans 

Home equity loans are among the most popular means of financing various home renovations. They work by providing access to the equity you’ve built up in your home. This equity can be quite substantial, easily covering renovation costs in many cases.  

  • Comparatively lower interest rates—home equity loans have relatively lower rates than unsecured personal loans and credit cards. With fixed interest rates, your monthly payments stay steady and allow you to budget accordingly.  
  • More flexible lending criteria—getting approved for a home equity loan relies more on how much equity you have rather than your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, or employment status. You do not need to provide anything other than personal information and the appraised value of your home. 
  • Financing for any purpose—you may have to pass certain criteria before getting the funding for major renovation projects. However, home equity loans give you a lot of flexibility and can be applied to any expense during the renovation.  
  • Potentially more funding—the more equity you have, the bigger your maximum loan amount can be. While you don’t have to borrow the entire equity value, you can be assured that a home equity loan can meet your renovation needs.

Frequently asked questions

You should expect to pay between $35,000 and $55,000 to finish a 1,000 square foot basement. This accounts for typical costs ranging between $35 and $55 per square foot.

A smaller $600 square foot basement will cost between $22,000 and $28,000 to finish, but the overall cost can change depending on your method and materials.  

If your basement is already finished (meaning walls have been erected, wiring installed, etc), you’ll pay between $10,000 and $30,000 depending on the extent of remodeling you have in mind

Basement renovations fundamentally alter your home’s structure, so regulations govern how this work must be completed. Without a permit, you may not be protected against future changes in building codes, which can lead to substantial penalties. Permits are necessary when creating a basement apartment since residential buildings require additional considerations. 

Plumbing and waterproofing are two of the most expensive aspects of finishing a basement, costing as much as $40,000 combined. Both tasks require specialized labour. 

On the materials side, lumber for framing is typically more costly, although the overall cost won’t come anywhere near the upper limits of plumbing or waterproofing. 

A good basement renovation can have a 70% return on investment (ROI), meaning your house’s value would rise by 70% of what you spent on the renovation. That is an impressive return, mainly if you can increase the ROI further by handling tasks like painting and furnishing yourself. 

At Alpine Credits, Homeowners Get Approved.

Apply now or call (1-800-587-2161) to find out how you can subscribe for RESP through your home equity.