What Do Plans & Design Cost to Finish Your Basement?

Plans & Design for Basement Finishing

Hi everyone, I’m Caleb Dansie with Dansie Design Build. Today I’m going to discuss plans and design. What does it take to get the plans and design completed for your basement finish and what does it cost? During the planning and design process, the first important step is to consider the team you will work with. When selecting a team to work with, it’s important to find a Design-Build contractor.

Why You Should Work with a Design Build Contractor

Selecting a design-builder is important because they take on the responsibility of coordinating the entire design process, as well as the actual construction when the time comes. So get in touch with a design builder who can do that. The other reason for using a design-builder is because he will have the actual knowledge on current prices, what it actually takes to build basement finishes in the market, and daily costs.

Designers and engineers can get really excited about great ideas. They design some awesome spaces, but without a realistic vision of the costs, those designs can grow beyond your budget. To keep the design in budget and functional for your needs and wants, it’s important to get a design builder at the front end to make sure that the completed design will work for you in the end. Design builder’s also have access to a healthy network of people that they work with. Their network often includes interior designers, engineers, draftsmen, and their resources to complete the actual construction. So after you find a design-builder who can work with you, the next step is to get in touch with an interior designer.

Interior Designer

The interior designer is crucial in reviewing your basement and helping you decide what areas will be best used in particular ways. Is it better to have a bedroom in one location, or would the space be better used as a kitchen, a theater room, or even a hallway? Designers know how floor plans function to provide the most value and enjoyment out of a home. So you definitely want to leverage their understanding on the best layout of home space.

Interior designers also help with coordinating colors and the flooring layout as well as choosing the materials and selections, such as light fixtures or cabinetry styles. They can even detail down to the furniture planning. A small part of interior design includes decorating. So when you need help with those things, utilize an interior designer who will help you create a good design package for the interiors.

Take Measurements of the Basement

The next step is to take measurements. At Dansie Design Build, we come in and measure the entire basement. We put down on paper the total size of the basement while calculating the square footage of each room that we’ve reviewed with the interior designer.

So, that’s the next part out of the design phase. We often utilize LIDAR, a 3D scanner, to capture data points of the existing structure in order to create a 3D model of the existing or preexisting structure or whatever it is when we start design. From there, we load that model into our 3D design software and lay out the floor plans to complete the actual design.

Structural Engineer

The next key member of the team that we work with is the structural engineer. We may not need a structural engineer on your particular basement project, but sometimes we need a structural engineer when removing a load bearing wall and replacing it with a beam, or if we move a load bearing wall over a certain amount of feet.

The engineer calculates these changes, which determine if the structure can accept those changes. The structural engineer must jump on board so that we can get a pulse on the engineering pricing and the construction cost to move those walls.

What is Included in the Plans and Design Process?

Once we have our team in place we can begin the planning and design stage. We print several sheets for the design of your basement. We begin with the architectural floor plan. That shows the whole basement, all the rooms, the sizes, the shapes, and it shows the square footage of the basement. The City also needs to understand what the size of the basement is for permit processing.

Structural Sheet


The next sheet we draw is the structural sheet. This page shows which walls are being demolished, removed, or changed in a structural sense. If you elect for a basement walkout, we’ll show the footings, foundation, and the stairs leading to the exterior of the home, as well as the hole that we cut in the foundation wall for the entry door. The engineer makes his calculations for the details of this drawing, which he will produce, stamp, and sign as an engineer drawing.

Electrical Sheet


The next sheet that we draw is the electrical sheet. The electrical sheet shows the electrical components of the home, starting with a picture of the existing electrical panel. It’s important to include that in the plans so any electrician can be aware of what’s existing. They need to know how much space they have left in the panel and how many circuits they can add before upgrading to a sub-panel. Electrical size and needs vary with every project. The electrical sheet includes the floor plan of the basement and we identify the location of each outlet and light switch. We also show which light switches control which lights, and if they’re going to be three-way switches, which allow light control from multiple locations, such as in hallways.

We also show the light fixtures and detail whether those will be can lights or surface mounted. Can lights recess up into the ceiling. Surface mounted lights attach onto the ceiling or wall. They fit your style and include decorative lighting, accent lighting, and task lighting. Task lighting on the cabinetry can also be shown on the electrical plan if that is something that you’re looking for in the kitchen.

Mechanical Plan


The next sheet is the mechanical plan. This consists of the HVAC and plumbing. It shows the locations of the bathrooms and any possible existing piping. It also shows the existing HVAC trunk lines for the duct work and any additional lines that we may have to add. Typically we install supply lines by every window. We do this so that the coldest and hottest air in the room can meet, resulting in a nice warm and comfortable space.

Cabinetry Plan


The next plan that we draw is a cabinetry plan if you have a bathroom or a kitchen in your basement. That cabinetry plan shows the floor plan and elevation of the cabinets. It displays the size of each cabinet box, whether it’s 12, 18, or 24 inches wide and where they will hang or sit on the wall. We show the inside as well. Are there shelves? Are there drawers? Is there a combination of both or is it an open space.

Finishes Plan


The next plan we draw is the finishes plan. The finishes plan identifies things like flooring, tile, LVP flooring, carpeting, along with any special details such as mouldings and baseboard. We show the locations of those floorings, where they start and stop, and detail the transition strips. This drawing enables us to calculate the square footage of each flooring type. This helps us provide accurate pricing to supply and install the material.

3D Renderings

On occasion we offer a 3D rendering of the basement interior. If you need a visual experience to really understand what your project is going to look like when complete, this can give a really good idea of what everything is going to feel like. They can, however, get a little pricey, ranging between $1,000 to $3,000 to do the interior renderings.

But if you’re looking to see what the finished product will look like before the work begins, then 3D renderings are definitely for you.

Specifications and Selections

One other thing that we complete along with the plans and design is specifications and selections list. We identify all the choices for the basement. What kind of flooring, tile, sizing, any accents, etc. All of those things have different costs and different labor rates due to different install time. Identifying all the specifications and selections along with the design allows us to provide accurate pricing.

What Does it Cost for Basement Finishing Plans & Design?

The all-in total cost for packaging the design, like this process I reviewed, typically costs between $1,500 and $2,500. The low end usually indicates that there’s no kitchen, no interior designer, nor engineer involved. Basic builds can save some money on a simple design process. If you’re looking to do a kitchen, or a basement walkout, maybe include an interior designer to help lay things out and decide how it will be done, the price increases a little bit to more toward the $2,500 mark. Some extensive projects have even exceeded the $2,500 threshold as well.

In general, however, $1,500 to $2,500 dollars is a good ballpark number to plan on for a solid design without any extreme situations or circumstances. Before we start the design process, we can identify anything that may be out of the normal for the design process in your situation.

Next Video for “What Does it Cost to Finish a Basement?”

I hope you enjoyed this episode. I will discuss the city permitting process in our next episode. Thank you for your time and have a great 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 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