The Pros and Cons of Finishing Your Basement


Many prospective homeowners become confused with the livability of unfinished versus finished basements. The truth: It all depends on your basement. However, this plan remains the most cost-effective method to increase your home’s living space. You can finish your basement for much less than constructing a similar addition to your home.

Like everything else, there are pros and cons to finishing your basement. We’ll give you some of these so you can better decide if a finished basement is in your future.


The most cost-effective way to add a room to your home.

You could save between 30 and 50 percent of the cost of adding an addition to your home. You don’t need a roof and one or more roof tresses, which saves their cost. You also do not need to invest in expensive windows since your basement already has windows.

Relatively easy to make this a do-it-yourself (DIY) project.

Depending on the “elegance” you want to create and at least are reasonably “handy,” finishing a basement could be an ideal DIY project for you. This suggestion assumes you don’t need to add complex plumbing or rewire the entire basement to bring power to your finished basement.

Simple way to add bedrooms for a growing family.

When you lack the space to accommodate your growing family, a finished basement is a simple, cost-effective solution to adding one or more bedrooms to your home.

Relatively easy way to make a small living/sleeping quarters for aging parents.

Do you have adult children who think it’s “cool” to live with you or do you need some sleeping and living quarters for elderly parents needing your care and concern? Finishing your basement could be the cost-effective answer to your dilemma.

Limited natural light is a plus for a home theater/media room.

When you have a traditional basement with small “basement windows,” a finished basement is ideal for creating a home theater or general media room. This idea may also work if you need a proper home-office but simply don’t have the space right now.

Could receive over three-quarters of the cost when you sell your home.

This represents an increase over the typical payback you receive for most average home renovation projects.


Possibly limited ceiling height.

Many city and town building codes require finished basement ceiling heights to be a minimum of seven feet high. If your unfinished basement ceiling is only seven feet now, when you add a finished ceiling your ceiling height will be cramped at less than seven feet. For normal sized people, not NBA players, ceiling heights below seven feet, nine inches feel “cramped.”

May need to reroute heating ducts or plumbing.

Depending on your current plumbing layout (it was done for an unfinished basement), you might need to reroute pipes and stuff.

You possibly could have water and excess moisture issues.

Water and excess moisture are the top problems with finished basements. Even if your basement is now relatively dry, just a small amount of seeping moisture can create serious mold or mildew issues.

May have added cost creating another bathroom.

Did you realize basement toilets must flush UP? This requires an installed special “ejector pump” to get toilet water to defy gravity. (Typically, expensive to buy and install).

May be challenging to find attractive and functional flooring.

Remember, your unfinished basement floor may have major imperfections (it was created as an unfinished basement floor). If you have moisture issues, wood flooring is not an option, as moisture is wood’s mortal enemy. Consider vinyl interlocking tile or planks, which are moisture-resistant and won’t conform to floor imperfections.


All of these suggestions should be considered BEFORE you finalize your decision and project plan. You’ll be happy you did!