You reside in a large home with a barely used, unfinished basement.
Perhaps you are looking to transform the space to accommodate visiting guests, or maybe you’d like to make the space living-friendly to rent to tenants for additional monthly income.
Whatever your objective may be, there are costs to consider when reconstructing a basement level to become a liveable apartment.
Read on to learn more about prices and considerations for turning a basement into an apartment.
What Is the Overall Cost to Convert a Basement Into an Apartment?
Home Advisor declares that the average cost to finish a basement is $2800 for a 400 square foot space or $33,985 for a 1500 square foot space, averaging $18,395.
This price is inclusive of permits, materials, and labor, but is hardly applicable to the costs involved in transforming a basement into a liveable, rentable unit.
Bathrooms and kitchens are difficult and costly to install, pushing the overall cost far past that of the average as outlined by Home Advisor.
According to Budget Dumpster, the full conversion cost ranges between $50,000 – $75,000.
Finished basements can bring this cost down, but still require the installation of a bathroom, kitchen, and other amenities, ensuring that the transformation is an investment nonetheless.
15 Cost Considerations When Transforming a Basement Into a Living Space
There are a variety of cost considerations to ponder when converting a basement into a living space. After all, the transformation process is a significant investment.
Some considerations are for aesthetics like installing large windows and warm lighting, while other considerations are legally enforced, like ensuring that the ceilings follow local building code.
Learn more about the many factors that can influence the cost of turning a basement into an apartment, including plumbing, wiring, insulation, moisture prevention, egress windows, ventilation, laundry arrangements, and more.
Identify the Space You Have to Work With
Take careful note of the size of space you are working with, and be realistic when choosing what home elements or rooms could fit within it. Not all basements are created equal.
Is there space for two bedrooms, or would one larger bedroom be more practical? Perhaps instead of a second bathroom, plan for one full and one-half bath.
While the number of bedrooms and bathrooms can be decided based on square footage, it is necessary to have a living room, kitchen, dining area, closet and storage space, and one bedroom and one bathroom to complete the basement apartment.
Another important consideration is the ceiling height. While all local regulations are different, most require that the basement ceilings be at least seven feet tall.
Consult your local building codes, securing all necessary permits.
Examine All Wiring and Plumbing
Knowing that you will require the proper plumbing to support both the kitchen and bathroom needs, inspect all plumbing to identify what upgrades or expansions you need to conduct.
Similarly, ensure that all wiring is up-to-date and robust enough to support a full-time living space.
Remember that you will need to obtain a permit for both plumbing and wiring improvements, which will have a cost associated.
Insulate the Basement for Sound and Warmth
Ensure that both the walls and ground of the basement unit are insulated to protect against cool temperatures and sound. Utilize batting and insulated panels amongst other materials to achieve insulation.
This step of the transformation may require you to renovate existing basement walls, so you must be mindful of the construction and cost required to strip and replace a wall.
Ensure That the Basement Is Protected Against Moisture
To ensure that your basement apartment is up to local code standards, you must implement moisture protection to keep moisture from seeping through the concrete walls.
Failing to input moisture barriers into a basement apartment may result in mold, costly damage, and dangerous living conditions.
Build in Egress Windows
Egress windows are basement windows designed to allow light to enter, while also being escapable for people in the case of an emergency.
Egress windows are mandatory for live-in basements and may require renovations to your foundation, as well as a larger gap than regular or pre-existing windows.
Install the Appropriate Ventilation
Ventilation is key to ensure proper air-flow. Air-flow is necessary to keep the basement living space fresh and dilute and expel any fumes from cooking and heaters.
Inspect for Rot and Pests
Check out your basement area to ensure that there are no signs of moisture damage or pests before starting your basement remodel.
Concrete, stone, and wood can be especially susceptible to these nuisances.
Examine and Update Basement Flooring
While your concrete basement floors may have been satisfactory for your personal use, tenants or guests residing in a basement apartment may want or need more comfortable floors.
Avoid wood flooring as it is susceptible to moisture and warping, but tiles, correctly installed carpet or engineered or synthetic wood would do well in a basement living space.
Also read: How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Carpet in an Apartment?
Consider Laundry Arrangements
While you may be able to coordinate a communal laundry space, a shared laundry room may cause inconveniences or privacy issues.
Weigh the pros and cons and how a communal laundry room would work with space, and consider investing in a mini washer/dryer set.
Be Strategic When Coordinating Lighting
Ensure that the basement can be illuminated as much as possible by installing large windows and selecting optimal lighting for basement living spaces.
Choose warm lighting that drowns out basement suite gloom, creating a cozy atmosphere.
Carefully Plan the Kitchen Space
Consider the various expensive appliances and additions required for a live-in basement standalone kitchen – oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, sink, countertops, and microwave, to name a few.
Use Design and Aesthetic to Your Benefit
Avoid dark paint, cupboards, countertops, and flooring. Instead, select white or neutral shades to open up space and make it look and feel larger.
Dark design details will only reinforce the feeling of living in a dreary basement suite.
A coat of paint can go a long way, elongating a room’s length, offer the illusion of heightened ceilings, make the room appear wider, or draw attention to a particular wall.
Make a point to learn and utilize paint and design to create desirable illusions.
Also read: How To Brighten a Dark Apartment (Simple Tricks that work)
Thoughtfully Install Outlets
Ensure that you thoughtfully place outlets throughout the basement living space to accommodate the needs of kitchen appliances, home office needs, or entertainment.
Outlets should be convenient and plentiful, located in places that would allow for a phone to charge, an electric toothbrush to be plugged in, or a lamp to sit near.
Account For Storage Space
To ensure that the top-floor and basement-level residents are not overlapping in unwanted ways, ensure that the basement living space has the appropriate storage space to store seasonal or supplementary belongings like a bicycle or Christmas decorations.
Determine if the Basement Level Will Require a Walkout
An independent exit, a walkout allows basement-level residents to enter and exit their living space without traveling through the main level.
A great addition to make basement suites more guest or renter-friendly, walkouts are best suited for houses built on hills or other circumstances where there is sufficient outdoor space to accommodate a walkway and door.
What Are the Added Benefits of Renovating My Basement?
While the many cost considerations for transforming a basement into a liveable area may seem daunting or intimidating, there are also added benefits in addition to a new and improved living space.
A 2017 Cost Vs. Value Report facilitated by Remodeling found that 70% of home renovation costs are regained in added property value, on average.
Especially for homes located in bigger cities, it’s possible to earn a sizable rental income for a renovated basement apartment.
In addition to upgrading your home and potentially creating a living space that will earn income, the recouped costs are undeniable and add huge value to your home and property.
While many homes have undergone renovation, your home may be an attractive standout with a basement apartment reconstruction when the time comes to sell.
There are numerous and costly considerations for transforming a basement into a liveable apartment.
Those considerations might include wiring, plumbing, insulation, moisture prevention, egress windows, and ventilation.
Additional considerations are upgraded flooring, laundry arrangements, appropriate lighting, costly kitchen appliances, outlet placement, storage space, and walkout installation.
The average cost to finish a basement is approximately $18,395, while the average cost to convert a basement into an apartment ranges from $50,000 – $75,000, inclusive of permits, materials, and laborers.
While that estimate may seem steep, 70% of renovation costs are recouped on average, boosting your home’s property value significantly.
A well-done basement apartment will also make the home attractive to buyers upon selling, as it is unique and will turn a profit or be ideal for hosting guests.
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