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  • Jeff Russell

I bought a new home and now I want to finish my basement? Here are some things to consider.

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

This blog post is similar to a two part series we did in 2021 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, allowing them to keep their costs low and their production process consistent. Additionally, for builders who offer basement finishing, tacking on a basement during the construction process is relatively simple. It may only add a few days to the process because they are just adding to the scope of the trades who are already scheduled to be onsite. 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, protecting the existing home, new permitting process, and the challenge of getting materials in and out of the home.

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 trade partners involved may include:

  • Framing

  • Electrical

  • Plumbing

  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning)

  • Painting

  • Drywall

  • Cabinetry and Countertops

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

  • Other items like fireplace/stone and shower glass

Each of these subcontractors will charge more to remodel than a new build contractor because they need to visit your home multiple times. More care is required because you are living in the home, so the scheduling of their staff and product delivery is more complex.

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 create a design that fits your family, your style, and your choices much better. You don't have to settle for the 'builder-grade' materials, and the minimum heat and electrical that are typical with new builds.

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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