Is the Cost to do a Basement Renovation Better Than Selling?

The time always comes at one point or another for a homeowner to make a decision about moving. The family is expanding, getting older, or everyone just feels they could use some extra space. The first thought that many people have is to move, but then they think about that basement that has hundreds of extra square feet down there just waiting to be used! But, is it better to buy a new house or is a basement renovation the more economical option for cost?

People have probably heard a nightmare story or two over having a basement renovation go wrong, but it’s important to recognize why that usually happens. So, what changes a basement renovation into an expensive nightmare rather than a great cost-cutting alternative to listing a property?

In one quick word: DIY. That’s one way to ensure that a basement renovation’s costs start soaring through the roof. Yes, it is usually the intention of people who do their own improvements to a basement to save money, and they can, but only if they know what they’re doing. That is the biggest consideration when estimating a basement renovation’s cost. Who is going to do it?

Professional contractors are going to cost more, but they’re also going to do it right. So, in the end, if you’re absolutely sure that you know exactly what you’re doing for a DIY basement renovation and are already aware of the other associated requirements, then it’s going to be cheaper to do. How cheap? The costs will be what is needed for the permits and the materials. That’s it.

For this approach to a basement renovation, where there isn’t any cost of labour to calculate in, then it’s certainly more cost-effective than putting a home on the market. Real costs depend on the size of the renovation being done. A simple DIY renovation can be done for as little as two or three thousand dollars.

For everyone else who isn’t a handyman, then the cost of renovating a basement can look a little different. The average cost to do a major basement renovation in Canada is usually around $35 to $55 per square foot. That does mean that things can get pretty costly. For most people with about an extra thousand square feet of space to renovate, that means they will spend about thirty-five to fifty-five thousand dollars for a major renovation.

Now, this can seem pretty pricey, but this is the price to do a renovation in a major metropolitan city, like Toronto. There are also cheaper renovations that people can do that don’t require as much money and the cost are less for people in smaller population areas.

Overall, to break down the costs to do a basement is to break down what the cost is per job. Framing, for instance, costs about a dollar-fifty per square foot. Drywall is closer to two dollars per square foot. Finishing a ceiling is about five-fifty per square foot and a new floor is about seven dollars and fifty cents. As a result, in some cases a thousand square feet of basement space can be renovated for about ten thousand dollars.

So, if someone has a good-sized house and was looking at doing a reasonable renovation of about two thousand square feet of basement space in a small city, they’d probably be looking at about twenty-five thousand dollars to accomplish that without attempting a DIY project.

Would it better, in that case, to sell and leave the basement unfinished? The average home in the Hamilton-Burlington area, for instance, goes for about $591, 481. To sell and then obtain a larger home with a good increase in square footage means paying at least another hundred thousand over the value of your current home for all of that extra space.

Renovating the basement, however, will cost as little as twenty-five thousand and no more than fifty. So, saving money means staying where you are. Moving invariably means paying more, and that price can be anywhere from two and four times the price to get the bigger place.

In the end, a basement renovation does cost less than moving and there are other benefits to consider, as well. First, selling a house means giving five percent of the value to a real estate agent. Second, consider what you might be adding to the value of your home by renovating the basement. Does a basement renovation always raise the value of a home? No, but it usually does add at least some value by having extra habitable space in the house.

That increased value may not be the same or more than what was invested in the renovation, but people usually do get all or at least some of the money they put into the cost of the renovation back when they sell, so it’s a win-win situation, either way!

Photo by Lex Photography from Pexels

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