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Old 10-07-2019, 07:14 PM   #1
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Basement finishing sticker shock


I guess it doesn't help trying to find online what the average sq ft cost is to finish a basement. The latest quote we got (for an approx 1700 sq ft basement) is $138k. And no, we're not adding gold plated fixtures. It's a large space but nothing really out of the ordinary as far as materials goes. Adding a full bath (shower, toilet, sink) and new HVAC system -- but still.

All the cost calculators I find online grossly underestimate the cost. Does anyone know what a reasonable sq ft cost should be? This is coming from Alpharetta, GA so not exactly a high cost area of the country.
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Old 10-07-2019, 07:18 PM   #2
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


Were the other quotes in that same ball park?
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Old 10-07-2019, 07:31 PM   #3
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


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Were the other quotes in that same ball park?
The first one was in the $83k range.
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Old 10-07-2019, 07:44 PM   #4
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


It will be more for metro Atlanta than outlying areas, but there's a big discrepancy between $80k and $130k. Is the basement butt nekkid or is there an infrastructure to start with, like plumbing, electrical, etc?
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:04 PM   #5
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


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It will be more for metro Atlanta than outlying areas, but there's a big discrepancy between $80k and $130k. Is the basement butt nekkid or is there an infrastructure to start with, like plumbing, electrical, etc?
There is some electrical but no plumbing for the bathroom. No ductwork for HVAC. It's a typical unfinished basement with minimal electrical.
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:08 PM   #6
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


my quick estimate came up with $85,000
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:14 PM   #7
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


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The first one was in the $83k range.
Yep, a big swing. The rule of thumb for many is get three bids and choose the middle one- if you're comfortable with that person/outfit. Make sure each bidder is bidding on the exact same plans, performing the same scope of work. The guy in the middle is probably a better estimator too. The high guy might not even want the job! And the low guy might fall behind, get frustrated and bail on you because he under bid.
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:11 AM   #8
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


Wait 6 months. After the recession is publicized prices will drop dramatically.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:39 PM   #9
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


I would want detailed quotes even if I had to pay each contractor for their time to put one together. The devil is in the details and this is why I buy everything but the lumber and sheetrock and do a time and materials contract.

For complex projects I would never take a ballpark quote and there is no point in going with the high, middle, or low bidder when you have no idea as to what exactly is in each bid and you have no idea as to the caliber of their workers.
With the master bath remodel I did last year the contractor wanted to use his men for the rough plumbing and the tile work and I insisted on using a pro plumber and pro tile crew. I let the contractor add on overhead but I came out with better workmanship and net net the cost was the same as paying a lower rate for his men but having them take much longer to complete the work.

Same applies to concrete work where a remodel contractor or even a new construction builder is not at all likely to know how the work should be done to prevent problems in the future.
With a basement renovation I would look to putting in radiant floor heating instead of using conventional furnace heating or wall strip heaters.

With a basement there are moisture concerns as well as how to get water and sewage up to where it can go to the sewer and this is where I would not want shortcuts made. Same with regard to the walls of the basement.

A lot also depends on the height of the ceiling in the basement in terms of the options for routing plumbing, air vents, and electrical. The tighter the space available the more work it will take for the routing.

I would give some thought to having one contractor do the walls, ceiling, and flooring, and other contractors for the electrical and plumbing and tile work and painting and aspects of the project. If you can be the "general" for the project the end result will be better. I always have to supervise the workers anyway so why pay for the general any more than is needed.

There is a 100% cost variance with a new house if you check the dollars per square foot and your basement project is no different.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:30 PM   #10
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


I remeasured my basement and it is approx 1622 sq ft (space to be finished) so this contractor's price is $85 sq ft. He wrote my wife back and told her that the avg sq ft cost for a basement renovation that includes HVAC is $85-95 sq ft. Using his calculations he is on the low end pricewise. lol

I would agree with the $85 number if we were putting in a fuller kitchen or adding some expensive touches (stack stone fireplace, elaborate stone tile, etc) But we are using carpet thru out, not adding a fireplace and using standard moldings. The only pricey part is we are having a full bath added (sink, toilet, shower stall).

Does anyone know a real average sq ft cost?
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:50 PM   #11
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


There is no average price. prices change with the amount of work available to the contractors. If they are really busy and don't care or need your job the quote will be higher than if they need the work. The price can go up with quality but quality in not a for sure thing because you paid more.

Ten years ago we bought a house in a subdivision where we were building houses. The people we were building for and owner of our house offered to finish the basement ready for kitchen cupboards or 60,000 for about 1000 sq ft. As we knew all the contractors that would do the work we just went around and got ball park estimates and that came to about 20,000 if we bought the material.

We did it ourselves the material was about 10,000. So for 30,000 the owners would have supplied a CG to make sure everything was done correctly and timely.



Your basement will cost you what you have to pay for it. Good Luck.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:51 PM   #12
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


Is he planning on a new dedicated HVAC system, or is he utilizing what you have with ductwork changes? Using his calculations he is still at $137,000, so that isn't at the low end at all. Your bathroom, alone, could run nearly $25k based on what you are including quality wise. Naturally you will choose something beside carpet for the bathroom.

As we have stated, it will be difficult for us to give you any average per sf price on your project. Many on the forums don't live close to you and their pricing would be scattered, at best, since localities vary so much in labor costs, permitting, etc.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:58 PM   #13
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


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Is he planning on a new dedicated HVAC system, or is he utilizing what you have with ductwork changes? Using his calculations he is still at $137,000, so that isn't at the low end at all. Your bathroom, alone, could run nearly $25k based on what you are including quality wise. Naturally you will choose something beside carpet for the bathroom.

As we have stated, it will be difficult for us to give you any average per sf price on your project. Many on the forums don't live close to you and their pricing would be scattered, at best, since localities vary so much in labor costs, permitting, etc.
It will be a 100% new HVAC system, duct work and all. When I said he was at the low end I was being facetious -- it was HIS low end, not mine.

Also, his price didn't include flooring material, just labor.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:59 PM   #14
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


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Originally Posted by Nealtw View Post
There is no average price. prices change with the amount of work available to the contractors. If they are really busy and don't care or need your job the quote will be higher than if they need the work. The price can go up with quality but quality in not a for sure thing because you paid more.

Ten years ago we bought a house in a subdivision where we were building houses. The people we were building for and owner of our house offered to finish the basement ready for kitchen cupboards or 60,000 for about 1000 sq ft. As we knew all the contractors that would do the work we just went around and got ball park estimates and that came to about 20,000 if we bought the material.

We did it ourselves the material was about 10,000. So for 30,000 the owners would have supplied a CG to make sure everything was done correctly and timely.



Your basement will cost you what you have to pay for it. Good Luck.
I realize that prices can change based on the economy, time of year, geography etc. Just thought there should at least be a price range that is fairly accurate.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:03 PM   #15
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Re: Basement finishing sticker shock


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I realize that prices can change based on the economy, time of year, geography etc. Just thought there should at least be a price range that is fairly accurate.
Yes but it will be for the 50 miles around you. I am 80 miles from the big city and all our prices are about 1/3 of the labour in the city.
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