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Finishing the basement : Get the value back when selling?

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  • Jul 21st, 2013 8:58 pm
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Deal Addict
Sep 20, 2006
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To get the most value out of a finished basement you should add at least 1 bedroom and 1 full bathroom. So if your townhouse is now a 3 bedroom 2 bath home, it now becomes a 3+1, 3 bathroom home. That puts it in another category when people are looking for housing.
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Sep 14, 2003
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Burnaby
EugW wrote:
Jul 9th, 2013 6:16 pm
The MPAC assessor figured a cost range for a basement reno for my basement would be in the $30000 (low end) to $60000 range. Mine was more than that, but included the extra stuff I mentioned earlier, and also included structural changes since I knocked out two support walls (along with the requisite architectural drawings, engineering assessments, and HVAC ducting redesign).

I now have a 14 foot long 9" steel beam in the basement holding up part of my house, and a three long LVLs holding up another part of the house.

Plus the contractor charged me a few thousand bux for the demolition and to cart off all the waste. (My basement was completely finished... but the quality sucked, and like I said I had to get a couple of support walls removed.)
Ya demo isn't cheap since a big cost is the disposal of the waste and it's charged by weight. I rented the bin and demoed myself, and that cost around $1200 I think.
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Mar 23, 2009
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Toronto
rdx wrote:
Jul 9th, 2013 6:28 pm
Did you have to relocate the supporting post(s) ? I was planning to move one post but most contractors came to give me a quote tell me not to. So, I live with it. Funny that some of my guests thought that is part of the design LOL
One spot was a portion of a cinderblock wall. That portion was removed, and the LVLs were used to span the distance. I think it was something like 10 feet, but I can't remember exactly. BTW, I did this only to expand the bathroom by about 14 inches. The bathroom shower was very narrow it was right up against the cinderblock wall. Because it was so narrow, my guests hated using it. They actually preferred going upstairs to use a different shower. I didn't want expand in the other direction because on the other side of the bathroom was the basement kitchen, so expanding that way would reduce the kitchen size correspondingly.

For other spot, there were actually two support pillars that we knocked out. The support pillars were right in the middle of the room, so the previous owners just built a wall there, dividing the room into two halves, which made both rooms feel small. So, I knocked out those pillars and that wall to make a much larger common room. To do this we put in a big steel beam spanning from from the cinderblock foundation at one one wall to a new steel pillar footing up right near another support pillar. Opened the room right up.

Here is that common room. In the previous setup, from this perspective you'd be staring right into a wall, with another small room beyond that wall.

Image
Image


If you turn around, you look into the kitchen, which is open to the area in the above pictures. Overhead is the steal beam, hidden in the ceiling.

Image
Chigu wrote:
Jul 9th, 2013 6:33 pm
To get the most value out of a finished basement you should add at least 1 bedroom and 1 full bathroom. So if your townhouse is now a 3 bedroom 2 bath home, it now becomes a 3+1, 3 bathroom home. That puts it in another category when people are looking for housing.
Everyone told me to put in a bathtub in the basement. I didn't just because I didn't want one. I don't like showers inside bathtubs, and much prefer either separate tubs and showers, or else just a shower for a secondary bathroom. We didn't have enough room to put both a shower and a separate bathtub in, so instead I have a large (I think 40" x 55" or something like that) shower with ceiling mounted rain showerhead, and wall mounted spray shower, as well as a built in tiled seat at the back of the shower. (The seat covers some in-wall ducting.)

Image
gheart008 wrote:
Jul 9th, 2013 7:05 pm
Ya demo isn't cheap since a big cost is the disposal of the waste and it's charged by weight. I rented the bin and demoed myself, and that cost around $1200 I think.
Yeah, that makes sense then for us. As I mentioned above, one of my walls was cinderblock. Very heavy.
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Sep 14, 2003
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EugW wrote:
Jul 9th, 2013 7:14 pm
One spot was a portion of a cinderblock wall. That portion was removed, and the LVLs were used to span the distance. I think it was something like 10 feet, but I can't remember exactly. BTW, I did this only to expand the bathroom by about 14 inches. The bathroom shower was very narrow it was right up against the cinderblock wall. Because it was so narrow, my guests hated using it. They actually preferred going upstairs to use a different shower. I didn't want expand in the other direction because on the other side of the bathroom was the basement kitchen, so expanding that way would reduce the kitchen size correspondingly.

For other spot, there were actually two support pillars that we knocked out. The support pillars were right in the middle of the room, so the previous owners just built a wall there, dividing the room into two halves, which made both rooms feel small. So, I knocked out those pillars and that wall to make a much larger common room. To do this we put in a big steel beam spanning from from the cinderblock foundation at one one wall to a new steel pillar footing up right near another support pillar. Opened the room right up.

Here is that common room. In the previous setup, from this perspective you'd be staring right into a wall, with another small room beyond that wall.


If you turn around, you look into the kitchen, which is open to the area in the above pictures. Overhead is the steal beam, hidden in the ceiling.



Everyone told me to put in a bathtub in the basement. I didn't just because I didn't want one. I don't like showers inside bathtubs, and much prefer either separate tubs and showers, or else just a shower for a secondary bathroom. We didn't have enough room to put both a shower and a separate bathtub in, so instead I have a large (I think 40" x 55" or something like that) shower with ceiling mounted rain showerhead, and wall mounted spray shower, as well as a built in tiled seat at the back of the shower. (The seat covers some in-wall ducting.)




Yeah, that makes sense then for us. As I mentioned above, one of my walls was cinderblock. Very heavy.
Excellent way of hiding the electrical panel and other wiring!

If you had to dispose of a lot of cinderblock, you typically get a specialized bin for that, and you only throw that type of material in that bin. I think that's cheaper as they can typically recycle that easily without having to sort through it. It's when you rent the general waste bin where you can throw anything in it (excluding drywall and other hazard wastes) that costs a lot since most of that ends up in the dump.
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Deal Addict
May 31, 2009
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I second this. Wicked way to hide the electric panel. Makes it seem like a magical bookshelf. LOL.
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Mar 23, 2009
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Toronto
Heh, thx. My wife actually called it that too. ;)

We and the architect suggested something like this to hide the electrical panel since we wanted a bookshelf there anyway, and so we asked the guy who built our kitchen cabinets basements. (They're bamboo, BTW.) He was originally thinking of putting them on a roller because of the weight but was worried about marking the floor, so in the end he just asked the contractor to make sure the frame was doubly braced, and hung the bookshelves using 7 or 8 cabinet hinges on each side.
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stealth wrote:
Jul 9th, 2013 2:44 pm
We'll have to agree to disagree on that one. When were selling our house/buying a new one last year, one thing popped out at me in many of the listings "...professionally finished basement...". People don't value DIY hack jobs very much...code issues, sloppy work, strange boxing in of utils, poor finishing etc. If youre getting a pro to finish your basement, for $10k Id be surprised if you could get more than basic framing, hung drywall and $1.69/sq ft laminate on the floor. Forget about bathrooms, a nice design, proper wiring etc.
I thought about this to. If I was to sell after my basement reno, what would I put on the listing. I could easily claim professionally finished basement built to code (over $100k spent).
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Nov 2, 2012
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Hamilton
Kitchen and bathrooms renos may result in getting back $$ spent.

Basements, less so. You may recoup some of the cost, but likely not all (unless you do much
of the work yourself and do not value your time and labour).

If OP was going to enjoy the basement for a few years, then sure.
But if you are moving, why go through the hassle of a reno that is unlikely to give you back the $ you spent.
Jr. Member
Jan 8, 2013
130 posts
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We are spending around $30,000 to finish the basement on our new home build. I do NOT expect to get that back when selling one day. I'm doing it for my own use and plan to live there a long time. If I get 50% of the money back I will be happy.
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Oct 24, 2012
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I cant see the cost of a basement reno going directly into the market value of the house. It's a good investment if you plan to make use of it yourself, but bad investment if you are only doing it to sell the house.

I'd rather buy a house with a bare basement and pay X$ less than pay for an identical house with a finished basement that isn't exactly what I wanted.

Some people put the laundry room in the basement, but I wouldn't because it would be too much going up and down the stairs with laundry baskets (with 2 kids, it's laundry every day).
Some people put a full bathroom but I wouldn't because I wouldn't want to take my shower in there, I'd rather have a tiny toilet with more floor space for other uses.

Some people want separated rooms (office, home theater), but I would rather have an open space concept (except for the toilet :p )


It's worth it for yourself, you'll gain tons of livable square footage for few dollars and if you make use of it for 5+ years, you'll have amortized its cost to yourself and the property value will have increased by itself to not even realize whether you got your money back or not.
Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2001
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I will be honest - I disagree that buyers do not like cheaper finishes in the basement. Many buyers go by what looks good to them and what their inspector says and have no knowledge (or care to have knowledge) about renovations. They just want a basement that's finished to give them the extra space/bedrooms.

I think it's reasonable to say the chances of a poorly finished basement that looks good adding more value to your home than a professionally finished basement is fairly good. Many professional jobs spend money where you can't see it - subfloor, etc that are much harder for the average home buyer to understand/accept.


In my opinion when looking at resale the renovations that offer the most bang-for-the-buck are often those that look appealing. Not whether they were done right or wrong, but the appearance of them is what determines the value add. How often do you think people ask "Do you have a permit for the basement" and then are willing to walk away when the seller says "no"?
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Oct 22, 2007
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I have several friends that are real estate agents and they all tend to agree that many sellers try to give the illusion that there home is worth more than it truly is by using words such as $100k worth of renovations when in fact they did the work themselves at a cost of about $25k. Also they use low end fixtures, etc and try to give the illusion that they're higher end items. The agents state that buyers are becoming more educated and spotting these so called illusions and quickly being turned off by the fact that the seller or sellers agent are not representing the home properly.

The agents also told me that when buyer see renovations done by the present homeowner and they used low end fixtures, lower priced finishes they're given the impression that corners have been cut to save on total cost. What that said, they wonder what other cost savings are done at the expense of safety, quality etc. that isn't seen. This is ok, if the price of the home reflects these items but in most cases they don’t and are priced above average.

Again, this was what was expressed to me buy agents and are there opinions, although if you think about it, it does makes sense. I wouldn't get low end fixtures etc. if I wanted it to last a long time.

Alkizmo:

I ended up adding a full shower to my basement since it comes in really handy when I have guests over and they sleep on air mattresses. Many guests have said that the basement is better than a hotel in that they have a full bath including shower, wet bar with fridge and dishwasher, home theatre, and table to eat and play cards. The basement is totally open, with two separate rooms, one bathroom, one furnace room, the rest is open concept. For the sake of this thread, there is no way I’d get my basement reno money back should I ever sell this home.
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Dec 10, 2008
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For everyone out there who wants an unfinished basement, there's just as many people who want something done.

And for every person who wants high end finishes, there's just as many people who can't tell the difference between MDF and pine baseboards, moldings, etc.
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Maymybonneliveforever wrote:
Jul 10th, 2013 6:52 pm
I have several friends that are real estate agents and they all tend to agree that many sellers try to give the illusion that there home is worth more than it truly is by using words such as $100k worth of renovations when in fact they did the work themselves at a cost of about $25k. Also they use low end fixtures, etc and try to give the illusion that they're higher end items. The agents state that buyers are becoming more educated and spotting these so called illusions and quickly being turned off by the fact that the seller or sellers agent are not representing the home properly.

The agents also told me that when buyer see renovations done by the present homeowner and they used low end fixtures, lower priced finishes they're given the impression that corners have been cut to save on total cost. What that said, they wonder what other cost savings are done at the expense of safety, quality etc. that isn't seen. This is ok, if the price of the home reflects these items but in most cases they don’t and are priced above average.

Again, this was what was expressed to me buy agents and are there opinions, although if you think about it, it does makes sense. I wouldn't get low end fixtures etc. if I wanted it to last a long time.

Alkizmo:

I ended up adding a full shower to my basement since it comes in really handy when I have guests over and they sleep on air mattresses. Many guests have said that the basement is better than a hotel in that they have a full bath including shower, wet bar with fridge and dishwasher, home theatre, and table to eat and play cards. The basement is totally open, with two separate rooms, one bathroom, one furnace room, the rest is open concept. For the sake of this thread, there is no way I’d get my basement reno money back should I ever sell this home.
You are absolutely correct. Buyers are becoming more educated. I once visited a collogues house who just reno'd his basement. He said he spent over $70k but I couldn't see it. He even used the $7.99 Forge door handles that you get from Rona.

The shower head alone in my basement bathroom cost me over $1k. If prospective buyers look inside my furnace room they will see the sprayfoam insulations. From the concrete floor in the furance room to the outside of the room they will be able to see the Dricore subfloor. The custom made Bar should be another dead give away.

My kids are very young. I want them to enjoy the theatre room and bar (when they get older of course) with their friends. I plan on living here until retirement or when the kids get married and move out.
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Jul 18, 2006
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sunnybono wrote:
Jul 12th, 2013 3:12 am
You are absolutely correct. Buyers are becoming more educated. I once visited a collogues house who just reno'd his basement. He said he spent over $70k but I couldn't see it. He even used the $7.99 Forge door handles that you get from Rona.

The shower head alone in my basement bathroom cost me over $1k. If prospective buyers look inside my furnace room they will see the sprayfoam insulations. From the concrete floor in the furance room to the outside of the room they will be able to see the Dricore subfloor. The custom made Bar should be another dead give away.

My kids are very young. I want them to enjoy the theatre room and bar (when they get older of course) with their friends. I plan on living here until retirement or when the kids get married and move out.

Interesting. My shower head was $70, and i though that was very expensive in real terms and relative to the $380k house.
I also do not see anything wrong with $7.99 door handles. That's a fair price to pay for what a handle does. Perhaps I am too utilitarian?
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