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  • Jeff Russell

Wanting to finish your basement? Here are some things to consider.

Updated: May 21, 2021

This blog post is one of a two part series on basements. Click here to dive into the cost breakdown of finishing or remodeling your basement.

One of the most common questions we are asked is, “Why is it more expensive to finish an unfinished basement after you’ve moved in than when you are building?”

Many people who have built a new home have told us that their builder quoted a price that was half the cost of what they are hearing from remodeling contractors. To help you better understand the process, we want to break down several reasons for this difference.

A new home builder will offer homeowners very limited choices, oftentimes only providing the cheapest “builder-grade” products, with only one floor plan option. Other times, new home builders won’t even offer finished basements as an option. This allows them to keep their costs low and their production process consistent. Additionally, for those builders who do offer basement finishing,

tacking on a basement during the construction process is relatively easy for them. It may only add a few days to the process because they are just adding a small increase in materials and time for the subcontractors. They don’t have to add additional steps in the process, just extend it slightly.

If you decide to finish your basement after moving in, there are additional factors involved, including extra time prepping the worksite and getting materials in and out of the house.

The process is more complicated in a finished home that’s lived in. There are nuances that need to be considered: for example, carrying the sheetrock through a space that is already finished can be tricky. Each of the subcontractors will need to visit in order to prepare a bid.

The subcontractors involved may include:

  • Framing

  • Electrical

  • Plumbing

  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning)

  • Painting

  • Drywall

  • Flooring (could be a couple different types of flooring)

  • Other items like fireplace/stone

Each of these subcontractors will charge more than a new build contractor because they need to visit your home multiple times, while also potentially needing to make changes to what has already been built. More care is also required because you are now living in the home, so the scheduling of their staff and product delivery is more complicated.

While finishing a basement with a new home builder is certainly cheaper, there are advantages to finishing your basement after you are in the home.

One notable advantage is the unlimited creativity and customization you will be able to have. You aren’t limited to the builder’s choices and can pick the quality level and style of products that fit your aesthetic. Because you have a greater variety of options, finishing a basement after moving into a new home often leads to a design that fits your family, your style, and your choices much better.

In short, buying a basement from a new home builder is like adding the super-sized fries to your order. It’s quick, cheap, and efficient. However, contracting with a home remodeling company, like Russell Room Remodelers, is like ordering a quality dinner. You have many options and are starting from scratch, so you can take your time selecting items to create a beautifully unique and

well built basement.

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