Basement renovation

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Posted by: from Oshawa
6/11/2012 at 2:47:33 PM

I have got a unfinished basement that we are desperately wanting to renovate. I have had some contractors in for estimates and the quotes seem on very opposite ends of the spectrum. I have been quoted anywhere from $25 - $55 per square foot. My basement is approximately 1000 square feet and am looking to completely finish off 750-800 square feet. Our wish list is as follows:

1 )Office space

2) Family room with either a gas fireplace or a built in media center

3) Two piece bathroom/powder room

4) Laminate flooring

5) Finish the basement stairs

6) Pot lights throughout

My question is what the average price per square foot that is reasonable taking in to account quality products and finishes but not necessarily "top of the line"?

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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 3:12:01 PM

Good Afternoon,

Just quickly my average basement is approximately $35 - $40 per square foot. Any more than that si unreasonable for what you are asking.

Being as it is only a 2 piece bathroom $35 is really where you should be.

In order to make all of the quotes fair I would suggest you specify the exact finishing materials to be used such as trims, flooring etc.

DONT go for the cheapest and DONT go for the most expensive!

ALWAYS check references and make sure they are insured.

Keep well;


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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 3:12:09 PM

Hello Jennifer,

Based on you wants and needs a good ball park is about $45 per sqft the quote for $25 I would run.

Hope this helps

Shelly Tooley

Office Manager

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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 3:25:26 PM


Every quote should not be based on square footage. Square footage is only a guild line for quick pricing. You should get a break down quote from rough carpentry through finished basement on what you have decided with your contractor.

Example: what type of pot lights, what type of sound system, what are the fixtures in your bathroom, what type of flooring. He should be able to work with your budget. After agreeing to a budget then you can work out your finishes.

I hope that I have helped, let us know if you need more assistance.


Degruyter Home Improvements (since 1984)

613 824 4999

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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 3:33:28 PM


You could expect to pay around $35-$40 / square foot of developed space. This would give you a good quality product and good workmanship. The price will also depend on the size of your contractors company, larger companies will charge more due to more overhead and more staff.


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Robert from Robert Graul in Montreal
Date/Time6/11/2012 at 3:35:02 PM

Hello Jennifer,

Obtaining quotations based upon a price per sq. ft. is a recipe for disaster. Provide the contractor with a plan and a scope of work that includes the finishes you want, type of tiles, potlights, sink, toilet, faucet, fireplace, etc. Include time-lines, finish date, penalty for being late, payment schedule, warranty, 10 % hold-back, permits, licences, insurance,etc. Check out at least 3 references, contact the BBB and Google for lawsuits.

To prevent yourself from unwanted extras and to provide the contractor with a clear picture of exactly what you want makes the process much simpler for both parties. The extra homework will save you time, money and headaches down the road.

Wishing your project great success,


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Jabber in Niafara Region
Date/Time6/11/2012 at 4:00:49 PM

Hello Jennifer,

I think your ball park should be between 30-35 sft. Depending on your finishing material. How many pot lights, the make of pot lights, not all material is good material. For that price range you should have good quality material and great workmanship. Please make sure to check and contact references , insurance sent to you directly from the broker, and that they are licensed.

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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 4:01:29 PM

In order to give a proper per. sq. ft. price the contractor would need to know exactly what you want. I am refering to all the little details right down to the baseboards, quarter round, paint and a lot more. It is very difficult for a good contractor to quote a price without having all the information, but a ball park figure would be over $50.00 per. sq. ft., these prices of $25.00 per. sq. ft. are totally out in left field, I would be very carefull and really check out a contractor that says he or she can do it that cheap.


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Randy in Orillia
Date/Time6/11/2012 at 4:02:03 PM

$55.00 per square foot seems way out of line for what you are asking. If you have a budget submit it to your contractor and he can work with you to try and stay within it. You can save money in some areas and go overboard in others. A good contractor will lay out a plan for you to give you the best bang for your buck.

Personally I think you could get it done for around $35.00 per square no problem.


RJ Interiors

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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 4:18:32 PM


Sorry but I do not work in square foot pricing. The main reason is that every project has different wants and finishes.

With the amount of finished basement work that you are planing I would guesstimate that the work would be in the $35,000 to $45,000 range. The unknown at this time is the amount of pot lights and the media center.

If you are looking for a ball park square footage price then I would say you must be looking in the $50 per sq ft range and up.

Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.


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Trevor from Arbutus Contracting in Mission
Date/Time6/11/2012 at 4:58:20 PM

Your not asking for a lot, but the $25/sqft seems a little low. You don't want a kitchen and the bathroom doesn't have a tub (still have to tear up the concrete for the plumbing for the toilet). I would shy away from the cheap quote and look for something in the $30+/sqft range unless your really confident in the contractor (ie refereed by friends who have had him do work for them or that sort of thing).

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Aaron from A.M. Bates in Burlington
Date/Time6/11/2012 at 5:51:32 PM

For a licensed contractor to finish this space with permits you should not expect any less than $40 per square foot. The gas fireplace, media centre and basement stairs would be in addition to the square foot price since these items can have such a large range. (ie. expect to pay upwards of $10,000 for a high end linear gas fireplace)

$40 per square foot would be for basic middle of the line finishes. There are so many other factors that can drive the price up. A plain non-IC pot light is about $25, where as a low voltage pot light with custom trim can be upwards of $150 per light.

Just make sure you know what you are getting and do your research on the company. Only use licensed contractors with city permits and make sure you have a separate electrical permit and inspection as well.

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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 6:19:09 PM

With basements, you have to compare apples to apples. That is why you get quotes that are so far apart. You have to specify exactly what you want, so you can compare similar quotes. Eg if you want a drywalled ceiling, are they using 1/2" drywall or 5/8" drywall. It doesn't sound like a big differance, however the 5/8 is close to double the material cost and more importantly a better product that won't sag over time.

I can guarrantee that for $25 sqft they are using the cheapest materials and cutting every corner they can. It's what's behind the walls that is the most important and you need to know exactly how they will build it.

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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 8:09:30 PM

A good designer can figure it all the materials and permits that you will need, with your plans or by consulting with you. With a good design plan you can not only compare products, but quotes for installation costs of each component.

Your General Contractor should be able to get this done for you.

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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 9:43:25 PM

Out here in Calgary, I probably get at least 3 calls a week with regards to basement developments.

my rule of thumb is 50 sqft for basic finishing's to match upstairs, but that is unseen numbers.

Another rule which is close if they want to match existing finishes that are on the main floor is around 10-12% of total value of house. so that being said, if it's a 1,000,000 home to pay 100,000 is not unrealistic. that is in this area of Canada.

So on a 500,000 home around 50,000 sounds right hey... more than likely this place will have a 1000-1200 sqft basement. there about so those numbers are close.

And to add upgrade items like a fireplace, wet bar. second bedroom and or second bathroom. prices go up from there, I do things allot differently spray foam is installed 1" thick to get best of both worlds in the basement, extra R value, and create a moisture barrier, go into detail about what you will receive for your sqft price.

Few things to look at, will they pipe in your central vac system for basement, move your cold air ducts to floor, seal up all vapor barrier on walls and joist spacing, if they say all of this is not needed, keep looking. there is allot more to a basement than a person realizes, definitely not a home owners walk in the park. I have came in behind allot of so called basement renovators around the 25buck/sqft, and the mess and lack of shear quality was sickening so I caution anyone to do some research.

Just my 2 or 5 cents ha-ha

Cheers and best of luck

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Date/Time6/11/2012 at 10:41:56 PM


I'm assuming it also needs framing and the ceiling is not finished, project like that can cost 35,000-50,000 depending on quality consider the 35,000 mid quality finish.

Thanks for your question


(wel-bilt contracting 416 457 3830)

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Date/Time6/14/2012 at 12:41:36 AM


As for quoting an entire job strictly on $/sq ft I would not know. When we do a quote, we walk in measure everything, do up a complete floor plan and include everything; drywall, insulation, flooring, plumbing, electrical, built in shelving, etc. Then after pricing everything including supplies, time, travel, labor, as well as budgeting in a contingency fund for unforeseen surprises, we would give a complete and final quote of the entire job. Our quote also comes with a complete drawing of the floor plan that is agreed upon before the quote is finalized.

I would suggest looking to see who is giving you an actual quote and not just a guess out of thin air. Something substantial that you are not going to get bombarded with extra charges constantly throughout the duration of the project.

I hope this helps and good luck with your renovation.

Thank you,

Sherri & Dustin Depatie

Seamless Finishing Inc.

Office : 780-760-3852

Sherri : 780-297-0986

Dustin : 780-885-2231

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Harry in Edmonton
Date/Time5/19/2013 at 2:10:18 PM

This is always the first question out of a customer "how much will it cost?" It should be the last question. There are a lot of question that should be asked before you get to price. When you buy a car are you buying a Mini or a Porsche. You can have a basement built with dollar store parts and day labor. I have a neighbor that builds like that and he always has some one that hires him. They are never happy but it is cheep. I will give you a list of question I feel are better for you to ask.

Ask yourself.

Do I want the basement to enhance my home or do I what it to look like a place to hide my unwanted things that are old and not wanted?

Do I want a well trained qualified workers and certified trades doing the work or do I want Joe blow handy at all but master of none doing the job.

Do I want a well organized company with systems for quality control, safety, warranty, and customer concerns or do I want to chase after the guy who did the work to fix it up for the next three month and get no results?

This is just a couple of question to start with that you should ask yourself. There are a lot more question to think about.

You should also ask the contractor these basic question and them ask yourself if you can live with the answer they give?

Do they have all the required licenses, bonds,and insurances?

Do they get the permits and inspection done?

Do they have a warranty program, a service plan in place,and do they have communication systems in place?

Do they do the work them selves or do they hire qualified contractors?

Do they have a schedule they follow and share with you or do they just fly by the seat their pants?

So you can get a basement development for any were from $30 a Sqft or less to $100 and more a sqft.

For more information about basements development Question and answer you can live with check out

Thank you

Mr. H Gavacs

Man Zone Construction Ltd.

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