How to Budget for a Basement Finish

How to Budget for Basement Finishing

Hello, Caleb Dansie here with Dansie Design Build, and today I wanted to welcome you to our Basement Finishing Cost Guide Video Series. And today is our first video of the series, which is budgeting. What is budgeting for your basement finish? Why is it important, and how do we budget for basement finishes? So budgeting for your basement, what is it?

Step 1, Establish Your All in Cost & Share with Your Design Build Contractor

The first thing that is important to do is establish the total all in cost that you are looking to invest into your home in your basement finishing project. Once you have that number established in your mind it’s important to share that information with the design builder who is going to be working with you to design your basement, and then complete the construction portion of the work as well.

The reason it’s important to share that information with them is because it puts you on the same page from the very beginning of the project, right on the very front end. So from there what can be discussed, planned and budgeted is actually going to be feasible for your budget and meet your expectations. So it’s super important to do that right from the very beginning.

How Dansie Design Build Helps with Budgeting for Basement Projects in Herriman, Utah

The next thing is the actual budget, how we do our budgeting. So when we have a customer that comes to us, let’s say this customer has an $80,000 budget that they’re looking to work with to finish their basement. From there we can establish the square footage of the basement and the elements that they’re looking to have included in their basement. So in this example, let’s say that they have a basement that’s 1000 square feet, and they’d like to turn it into an apartment to rent out. They need to add an exit or a basement walk out entrance to the basement, a full kitchen, a full bathroom, a laundry room, and the bedrooms and living room. With all those elements what we can do is we can look back at our historical costs of projects we’ve recently completed in the area and see what those kitchens, bathrooms, walkouts, any load bearing walls that you’re potentially looking to have moved, what have those items cost us recently? 

Then we can have those discussions and look into seeing what will fit in the budget and what’s more important to you to have in there, in case the budget isn’t enough to do everything at once. So we can make those decisions up front, and then from there we can look at other kitchens, if you’re looking to have a very similar layout, similar level of finish in the kitchen to a similar project we’ve just completed, we have those costs and we know what they are, so we can apply those costs to your project.

Budgeting to Finish a Basement

Let’s say that the kitchen that this potential customer is looking to have is a $25,000 kitchen in their basement. We can say, if your total budget is $80,000 and this kitchen is $25,000 that leaves us with a $55,000 budget to do the rest of the finishes and elements that you’re looking to include. If they’re looking to move a load bearing wall, that’s going to cost $5,000 – $10,000 depending on the complexity and what the engineer will require us to do for the given situation, then we would subtract that from the total number that we’re left with. Once we get all the elements that you’d like to have included we’re left with the rest of the money budgeted basically. 

So in our example we have $80,000 total, and then the $25,000 kitchen that brings us to $55,000, and then let’s say a $5,000 load bearing wall that needs to be moved or addressed in some way, that would leave us with a $50,000 budget for the rest of the basement. Unless they have a bathroom that’s in there, maybe that’s a $15,000 bathroom, so we’re at $50,000; $40,000; $35,000; that leaves us with $35,000 to do the rest of the basement. That’s how we work to budget what we like to have included in the project and what those items will cost. 

How to Decide on the Level of Finishes for Your Basement

Then when we get down to the $35,000 in this example is what we have to do for the rest of the finishes, then we can establish what type of finishes those are going to be. Are those going to be a more basic, average or a luxury level finish based on your budget to then do the flooring or carpet, there’s a wide variety of carpeting and other floorings, and some carpet can be as little as $10 or as much as $120 per square yard, so that’s a wide range. Basically when we’re left with that money, which in this example is $35,000, we can calculate what we will have for the square footage that’s left and establish the level of finish that you can get in that square footage at the price point with those elements in your basement, kitchens, bathrooms, walkouts, load bearing walls, theater rooms, and those kind of other things like those.

So we start with the budget, the $80,000 in this example, we would budget all the different items, and then at the end, end up with the same budget that we started with to make sure that what we’re designing, what we’re planning on putting in the plans is actually going to work for your budget in the end. The benefit to budgeting this way is that basically what ends up being in the drawings is going to be affordable and work for your budget that you have.

Why You Want to Budget for Your Basement Finishing Project

We’ve seen it in the past where we have a customer who comes to us, they’ve already put a lot of time and money into having either architect or a draftsman draw some plans for their basement finish, and then they have us produce a price through our pre-construction agreement. We will go through and price those plans that have been created previously and the budget unfortunately is a lot less than the actual cost to complete what is in those drawings. So we can lower the level of finishes, put in less expensive flooring, trim, paint, and those kinds of things. But it gets to the point where we can’t take out enough money out of the level of finishes to finish the entire square footage and keep those elements like kitchens, bathrooms, and so on, so we have to take those elements out, like the kitchen or the bathroom, or reduce the square footage. It complicates the design process and the planning in the plans.

Why You Want to Work with a Design Build Contractor

It’s just good to budget from the beginning. Set the budget up and then draw the plans to reflect that budget. That’s one of the benefits of working with a design builder who works with these plans and is working in basement finishing every day, and who is well familiar with the costs of what these different things are going for in the market that we’re working in everyday.

Plans and Design for Basement Finishing

So that’s a little bit of how we do our budgeting. In our next video we’ll be talking about the actual plans and design. What it costs to produce those plans and how long it takes to produce the plans, and then any design elements that go into that process as well, we’ll go over all of that in our next video. So we hope you’ve enjoyed this today and thank you for your time. Have a wonderful rest of your day.


Have you wondered what it costs to finish a basement in Salt Lake and Utah Counties?  Our basement finishing cost guide will give you everything you need to know.

  • Pricing for 1000 and 1500 square foot basement finishes
  • Pricing to include a bathroom, a kitchen, or open square footage
  • Pricing for Basic, Average, and Luxury Level Finishes
  • Basement walkout entrance pricing
  • Real project costs for basements we have finished
  • How to avoid the most costly mistakes while finishing a basement




Download the basement finishing cost guide

Download our FREE basement finishing cost guide. Inside we go over everything you’ll want to know.

  • Pricing calculation for any sized basement
  • Pricing to include a bathroom, a kitchen, a laundry room, or open square footage
  • Basement walkout entrance pricing
  • How to avoid the most costly mistakes while finishing a basement