Basement renovation costs: A comprehensive look
Basement renovations are among the most common home modifications in Canada. Keep reading to learn how much basement renovations cost and how Alpine Credits has been helping homeowners keep costs low for decades.
How much does it cost to finish a basement? Overview
Throughout Canada, basement renovations cost between $35 and $55 per square foot. Here’s what that would amount to for common basement sizes throughout the country.
At the lower end of each range, you’re looking at basic basement finishing (i.e. for a recreational room or home office) while the higher figures involve creating a full basement apartment with a bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen.
|Square Footage||Cost Range|
|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|
While these certainly aren’t small amounts of money, a basement renovation is among the best investments you can make in your home. For one, it raises the property’s value by making it more attractive to buyers who now don’t have to worry about doing renovations themselves.
Finishing your basement may also give you the option of renting it out, which can produce tens of thousands of dollars in income per year.
Basement renovation cost breakdown
Let’s take a more thorough look at the cost to finish a basement. While each item’s cost will vary depending on the contractor, these figures offer a good ballpark estimate.
These figures will also apply if you’re merely updating/replacing elements of your already-finished basement.
|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 fixtures you install|
|Drywall||$1.50 per square foot|
|Insulation||$1.45 – $3.50 per square foot|
|Ceilings||$2 – $6 per square foot, depending on the type of ceiling you want|
|Electrical||$65 – $85 per hour for a reliable, certified electrician|
|Tile flooring||$5 – $20 per square foot, depending on the material and its quality|
|Engineered wood floors||$3 – $5 per square foot|
|Carpet||$3 – $4 per square foot|
|Painting||$3 – $5 per square foot|
|Foundation pouring/repair||$5,000 – $20,000 (note: this isn’t always needed, especially with newer homes)|
|Building permit||$1,200 – $2,000|
|Waterproofing||$1,000 – $25,000, depending on the basement’s size and your home’s location|
Using the variable figures above, let’s now look at each item in greater detail.
Framing a basement is like creating its skeleton. Wooden beams form the foundation on which other elements, including insulation and electric work, will rest. Based on your basement’s size, you can expect to spend between $1,000 and $1,500 in total on framing, which includes materials and labor.
Plumbing is a major driver of basement finishing costs, particularly if you’re looking to turn the space into an apartment complete with a kitchen and bathroom.
Generally, you can expect to spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on a kitchenette or $12,000 to $20,000 on a full-sized kitchen. A bathroom, meanwhile, will cost you between $10,000 and $15,000. This gives you a range of between $10,000 and $35,000 for plumbing alone, depending on how fancy you’re looking to get.
You may also find it costs less if your home was built with existing plumbing features, such as a drain.
Drywall is one of the cheaper basement finishing costs, coming in at just about $1.50 per square foot. As such, you’ll pay between $2,000 and $4,000 to have your entire basement fitted with drywall.
Insulation is a particularly important step in Canada, where winters can get quite frigid. There are many types of insulation to choose from, with rigid and spray foam being the cheapest at about $1.40 – $2.20 per square foot. Fiberglass 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 are another area in which you have a fair bit of choice. Drywall will be your cheapest option as your ceilings basically become an extension of your walls, for installation purposes. You’ll pay between $2 and $3 per square foot here.
Drop ceilings, on the other hand, are a bit more expensive at between $2 and $5 per square foot. Learn more about the difference between drop ceilings and drywall ceilings in this article.
In total, you can expect to pay between $900 and $2,500 on your basement’s ceiling, with the higher end generally being associated with drop ceilings.
Hiring a licensed electrician to wire your basement isn’t cheap but is well worth it as you’ll avoid safety hazards. At rates ranging between $65 and $85 per hour, you can expect to pay $1,000 to $2,000 for wiring your entire basement.
Carpet is typically the cheapest type of flooring, as you can see in the chart above. Just remember that basements have a tendency to be damp, which – unless your waterproofing and humidity control are very solid – doesn’t mix well with carpet. Tile and engineered wood flooring are two other popular (and costlier) options.
All in all, expect to pay between $1,500 and $4,500 for basement floor installation, depending on the material you’ve chosen.
If you have experience painting, you might be able to get away with simply paying for paint and applying a couple of coats yourself. Either way, painting your basement should cost between $320 and $700 in total.
Foundation pouring or repair
This is one of the highest costs to finish a basement.
Thankfully, it’s unlikely you’ll need to pour an entirely new foundation unless your home was constructed using the slab-on-grade technique. This is more common in places like Florida than in Canada, where you’ll typically see homes built with basement foundations from the get-go.
If you do need to repair or pour a brand new foundation, however, costs can range from $5,000 to $25,000 and beyond.
Securing a building permit is essential before renovating your basement. It will save you from running into 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. In fact, future buyers may see it as a liability.
Thankfully, permits are among the cheapest basement finishing costs, ranging from $1,200 to $2,000 depending on your municipality.
Lastly, we have waterproofing. Depending on your basement’s existing waterproofing situation, you might spend a modest $1,000 or $25,000 and beyond on ensuring waterproofness.
Optional expense: Interior designer
By no means is an interior designer an essential expense when renovating your basement. However, some homeowners like having a designer as it typically results in a more aesthetically-pleasing basement.
Designers that charge hourly typically do so at a rate of $50 to $200 per hour or more. Some professionals will charge per square foot at a rate of $5 to $15.
All in all, you might expect to pay roughly $7,000 for an interior designer to style your basement.
Cost to create a basement apartment
|Bathroom||$10,000 to $15,000 per bathroom|
|Laundry Room||$1,000 – $7,000|
|Total||$60,000 – $100,000+|
When deciding which basement renovation costs to spend the most money on, it helps to consider your goal. Creating a basement apartment is among the most ambitious – and, therefore, expensive – goals.
For a basic basement apartment, you can expect to spend within the ballpark of $60,000. That includes additional costs beyond what we mentioned in the previous section, such as:
- Kitchen countertops
- Appliances (i.e. refrigerator)
- A dedicated entrance and fire escape
- Furniture (i.e. beds, couches)
- A laundry room (and necessary ventilation)
For a more luxurious basement apartment, you might spend $100,000 or more.
When considering the cost to finish a basement and make it an apartment, remember that there are very specific codes to follow.
For example, you’ll need an egress window large enough for a tenant to escape through in case of 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 properly account for these costs can necessitate an expensive reworking of your basement if an inspection deems it unsuitable for inhabitation.
What’s worse, if an emergency does happen and someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of your failing to meet code, you’ll be open to devastating legal action.
Cost to finish a basement for other purposes
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.
At the cheaper end, you might be able to sneak in well under $30,000 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 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||$7,000 – $11,000||$14,000 – $22,000|
|500||$8,500 – $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|
As you can see, DIY basement renovations generally cost about half of what you’d spend hiring a professional.
Of course, cost is not the only consideration here. You also need to remember that some types of basement renovations (especially creating a basement apartment) come with strict code regulations. A professional will have a much better grip on these regulations than you, which can save you hassle and money.
How to finance a basement renovation
Now that you know how much basement renovations cost, it’s time to talk financing.
Most Canadians don’t have $14,000 – let alone $82,000 – just laying around to pay for a basement renovation in cash. Rather, some type of financing is typically required.
Home equity loans are among the most popular means of financing various home renovations. They work by providing access to equity you’ve built up in your home. This equity, which we calculate using the formula below, can be quite substantial, easily covering renovation costs in many cases.
The advantage of using home equity rather than other types of financing (i.e. credit cards) for your basement renovation is that interest rates tend to be much lower. Check out this page for a detailed look at how a home equity loan from Alpine Credits compares to traditional banks and other online lenders.
Another advantage of working with Alpine Credits is that we don’t take your credit score into account. Rather, our priority is ensuring you have the necessary equity in your home for the loan you seek.
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.
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 remodelling you’re looking to do.
Absolutely! Basement renovations fundamentally alter your home’s structure, which is why 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 especially important when creating a basement apartment since dwellings 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 of these tasks require specialized labor.
On the materials side, lumber for framing typically ends up being quite expensive, although the overall cost won’t come anywhere near the upper limits of plumbing or waterproofing.