Got an Unfinished Basement? Finish It Yourself!

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on August 21, 2017

Even if you’re not thinking about selling your home, there are benefits to finishing your basement. Start with gaining more living space – something most homeowners dream about!

But if you are considering selling, you’ll recoup 70 percent of the cost of your basement remodel, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. Plus, keeping your basement-finishing budget to no more than 10 percent of your home’s appraised value makes the upgrade a smart investment, Lending Tree Home Pros’ Neil Salvage tells HGTV.

You won’t be alone! The National Association of Home Builders says finished basements are the third most-requested project, after kitchen and bath remodels and additions.

Nationwide, the average cost of a basement remodel is between $10,583 and $27,103, says HomeAdvisor. But, some homeowners pay as little as $4,800.

It doesn’t take a full-blown remodel to whip that basement into shape. Use a few of these DIY ideas to turn it into a livable area that will add value to the home.

Wet basements aren’t livable

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, more than 60 percent of homes with a basement have leaks. Furthermore, 38 percent of those homes run the risk of developing mold in their basements. Before you tackle the decorating and design aspects of your unfinished basement, do the repairs necessary to set a good foundation for your hard work.

If you have leaks, you’ll need to find the source(s) of the leaks, which is usually easier said than done. The most obvious place to look is the part of the wall where the pipes enter. Check that the landscaping outside the basement slopes away from the house, and that the gutters aren’t clogged with debris. Gutters should also extend at least four feet away from the structure.

Fixing leaks sounds intimidating, but many repairs are inexpensive and easy. Filling in cracks with epoxy, installing more downspouts, re-sloping the landscaping (one inch per foot for at least six feet away from the foundation wall, recommends the University of Minnesota), and installing flashing are DIY projects that won’t break the bank.

You should also consider getting a dehumidifier for the basement. Then, seal the walls. Tom Silva at suggests applying waterproof masonry cement to walls.

Start at the top and work your way down

Of course, you’ll want to paint the ceiling, but the other things hanging from it can ruin the comfy vibe you want for your basement. Paint pipes, air ducts, and more to match the ceiling to help them blend in to the ceiling. Coffered ceilings and work planks add style, and the results are easier to achieve than most people think.

There’s always the option of using drywall or large, removable tiles that allow access to all that stuff hanging from the ceiling. Find more ways to camouflage ceiling “junk” at

What will you walk on?

According to research by the National Association of Home Builders, carpeting is the flooring of choice for most basements. But, when you factor in the cost of moisture-resistant padding, carpet can be quite pricey.

If your budget is tight, consider vinyl. Some of the new wood-look luxury vinyl floor planks add a surprisingly realistic wood-look to a room. Plus, they’re inexpensive and are easy to install.

If you’re worried about water leaks, tile might be a better choice. Because basements are notoriously moist, look for tiles with anti-slip finished like glazed ceramic tiles. Or, consider leaving the concrete floor exposed and acid-staining it. Scatter lots of area rugs about, and your feet will stay warm.

Create a warm ambience

Proper lighting is essential in a basement that you plan to use frequently. Choose ceiling fixtures, such as track lighting or pot lights, and then add table lamps around the room.

Most basement lack natural light and have low ceilings. You can thwart these effects by choosing light-colored accessories like upholstery fabrics, rugs, pillows, and artwork. Soft rugs, thick blankets, and fluffy pillows will seal the warm ambiance of your newly finished basement.

Finishing a basement is a big projects, but tackling it will give you more living space and help you sell the home in the future. Do as many DIY projects as you can to keep costs down.

Brandywine MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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