Should you finish your basement?

Posted by on Thursday, October 13th, 2016 at 7:23pm.

An unfinished basement is good for storage, bad for resale.  Listing descriptions always feature an unfinished basement as virgin space just waiting for your “creative touch”.  It can be a blank canvas upon which to design more living space.  It could hold the key to more revenue with a secondary suite. Whether it enhances your lifestyle or adds value to your home, how worthwhile is it really to pour money into basement development?

How Long Before You Might Sell?

Outside of kitchen and bathroom renovation, you may only get a percentage of the money you invested into basement renovations.  Adding more square-footage of living space will certainly increase the value of your home, but likely not significantly in terms of recovering the money you spent on the development. So if you are thinking of doing the basement to immediately increase resale, it might not work out so well.  But if you have three or more years to enjoy your basement renovations while your home appreciates, that might balance out the cost of your development.  If money and resale is no option in the short-term, by all means – develop your basement.  Create a man cave.  Do keep eventual resale in mind and make sure the living space would be appreciated by others down the line.  Think bathroom, an extra bedroom and ample storage.

Can You Include Extra Rooms on Your Listing?

So, you’ve decided you might like two extra bedrooms in your basement.  Add that to the three you have upstairs and suddenly you’ll have a five-bedroom house. Before you think that might make your property more marketable, those two-bedrooms in the basement better be up to code otherwise they won’t be classified as “bedrooms”.  That means the windows need to be egress windows and the space must qualify as living space.  Otherwise, when it comes to marketing your home it will have to be listed as a three-bedroom and the list price will be based on comparables in the area.

If you do build to code and pull permits, remember it will increase the value of your property tax assessment as well.

Is Basement Development in your Budget?

It’s one thing to plan your renovation and another to execute it.  It will save you money by doing the work yourself IF you think you are qualified.  Weekend carpenters have good intentions but often basements are out of the way and the impetus to get the job done is often lost because it's not starting you in the face.

A good basement development can cost between $30,000 and $50,000 if you contract it out.  Some will give you a cost per square foot which is ok, as long as you understand it will likely cost more at the end. There are hidden costs too, like leveling the floor, cutting concrete for plumbing trenches, moving gas lines or upgrading the electric boxes.  People in Calgary develop basements every day.  Just make sure you have the right motivation and appropriate expectations for the outcome you hope for.

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