Cost of Basement Renovation in 2020

February 28, 2020

By Kamyar Oveisy

In modern Canadian society, basement renovation or basement finishing has become a must-do concept for all homeowners. As discussed in our blogs, basement renovation and its context have changed dramatically from what it used to be in its early days. Nowadays, we have luxurious floors and moldings, high-end stones and millwork, and you name it! Every day, experts and designers are coming up with new and better ways to design and build basements.

Of course, with improvements and higher quality finishes and methods comes higher costs. Basement finishing costs are not what they used to be, in fact, nowhere close to where they used to be. The basement industry began to evolve into what we know today starting in the 70s-80s. Back then Basements did not even have drywall, or it was a luxury to have. It’s fair to say that an average cost of basement renovation in the 80s to late 90s was around $5-$15 per square foot. Today, those numbers are unrealistic and imaginary.

Basement finishing prices have gone up by almost 100% as each decade passes. By 2010, basement renovation costs were averaging from $25-$45 per square foot. In 2020, most professional basement renovations cost an average of $35-$70 per square foot. It could even go up to over $100 per square foot. Some would say that this sounds unrealistic and overpriced as it is “only a basement”.

Times have changed and unfortunately, nothing is cheap anymore. We live in Canada, based on modern statistics, Canada is known to be one of the top 5 most expensive countries to live in. Still, some argue that a basement shouldn’t be so expensive.

What factors determine and justify the cost of basement finishing in today’s world? Let us breakdown 5 primary factors that can answer this question:

  1. Size – this is an easy one, size matters. A small basement renovation project is generally cheaper to build as you require less time and materials. The same concept applies to larger basement renovations, more time and materials is required. In some cases, some contractors charge at a more competitive rate if the basement is larger than average. And in some cases, some contractors charge more than average if the basement is too small as it is not worth their while. It all depends on who you have chosen to hire for your basement renovation project.
  1. Labour – probably a top two factor for costs in today’s basement finishing market, labor prices have dramatically increased over the past decade. This can be explained due to the increase in trades working and a decrease in the number of skilled trades available. There are simply too many people with little to no experience working in the construction industry providing all types of renovation services for cheap rates. As a professional company, we have handpicked skilled trades over our years. Sure we pay more, but the end result and the peace of mind that comes with us well worth it.
  1. Materials – probably the #1 factor for the increase in costs in today’s basement finishing market, materials. You can read more about this in the blog on our website which provides an in-depth view of why the quality of materials matter in today’s industry and how it is justified in the cost of basement finishing. We strongly believe that the standard materials used by a professional basement finishing company must be worth the money spent as quality materials add up to half the cost of your project.
  1. Timeline – this is a huge factor and something which a lot of clients care a lot about but forget to guarantee. We have all heard the horror stories about contractors taking over half a year to finish a renovation project. Sadly enough, more than 70% of today’s renovation projects are not finished within the promised timeline. Perhaps even 30% or more are extensively prolonged due to poor management and lack of manpower. This is a key point we always stress on with our clients as having contractors in your home for more than a month can be exhausting, especially for a basement renovation project. It is very important to have a written agreement which confirms the duration of the project. A professional company/contractor should have no problem with providing an exact duration for your project. At Desire Basements, we guarantee your project timeline with a $200/day late fee guarantee. This is to show good faith in our clients that we will not be late and if we are, we would like to compensate you for it.
  1. Package – what is a package? Why does it matter? In today’s renovation or basement finishing industry, working with a company in comparison to a contractor can vary in numerous ways. At Desire Basements, we offer a one-stop all-inclusive package for your renovation needs. Our package includes various key items required for a smooth and headache-free project. An example of a few of these items are liability and WSIB insurance, guaranteed cost, guaranteed timeline, an inclusive and large selection of premium quality materials, interior design, customer service, project management, detailing, and the list goes on. These items separate regular 2 man operations with companies such as us. With years of experience in the basement renovations and general renovations industry, we strongly believe that these factors are a must for a smooth and successful project.

We really hope that this brief explanation on the costs of basement renovations in today’s market sheds light on questions and doubts many may have. We are always open to discussing these factors and more in further detail if requested. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on this blog, by emailing us, or giving us a call to discuss your upcoming project.


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