Full Basement Vs Finished Basement: What’s The Difference?

You can convert your basement to become a livable space for the family. Before doing so, you should distinguish the term full basement from a finished basement. We have gathered the differences between these two.

You should not regard a full basement as a finished one. A full basement refers to the entire area under a house for allowable living space. On the other hand, a finished basement has similar and complete features with upper floor levels.

If you have a full basement, you can have more space for your activities. You must finish the basement before you can use its full potential. There are several ways you can finish the full basement to accommodate your family's needs. Read further on how you can create a finished full basement.

A collaged photo of an unfinished and finished basement, Full Basement Vs Finished Basement: What's The Difference?

What Counts As A Finished Basement?

You can regard the basement as finished if the space has the complete features of the living area upstairs. A finished basement has matching ceilings, floors, and walls with the rest of the house. The utilities and HVAC systems of the house also service the basement.

In this sense, a finished basement creates a habitable space for the family.

In contrast, a full basement refers to the total area size and height you can use for a living space. The size follows the same dimensions of the house above. It is a space that is big enough for people to stand in. You can divide the areas for a bath and bedroom, a hobby, or a storage area.

Only when you add the vital connections and fixtures to the full basement that it becomes a finished one.

What Is Considered A Finished Basement For Tax Purposes?

A spacious light cream colored

It is also important that you check the structures in your home for possible tax liabilities. You can avoid paying for penalties and surcharges if you pay the required taxes.

The computation of the total square footage of the property usually does not include basements. Most appraisers consider the gross living area that includes above-grade square footage. The GLA excludes a completely underground basement regardless of the finishing.

You will get taxed if the basement is part of the square footage calculation. Also, other locations will include the basement, depending on state zoning requirements. The recognition of taxes also differs from property agents' assessments.

If you plan to sell your property in the future, the appraised value of your house may increase up to 70% after finishing the basement. In this case, a finished basement causes higher taxes for your home.

Your basement qualifies for taxes if it has the complete features for livable space.

What Qualifies A Basement As A Living Space?

You can use the basement for a variety of purposes. Yet, you need to tackle some issues before you can live and do whatever you want inside. You can avoid future damage to the basement foundations and your family's health by solving the problems.

A major problem in basements is the moisture that creates molds and mildew. It will not be a healthy place for your family if the basement is moldy. It is also crucial to add waterproofing measures inside. You have to avoid water seepage that can cause structural damage.

Radon gas is also a problem that can affect the whole house. You will also need proper sealing to avoid the harmful gas coming from the soil underneath. You can read from a related article to find out if a house without a basement can have radon.

Other challenges in a basement include flooding risks, controlling temperature, and lighting. Find out below what makes a basement a livable space.

Here are the features you need to assess for a livable basement:

  • Adequate lighting and ventilation
  • Complete electrical, plumbing, and heating systems
  • Dehumidifiers are in place
  • Follows minimum basement height requirement
  • Insulation
  • Permanent access routes like stairways, doors, and windows (legal ingress and egress )
  • Suitable flooring (especially for flood-prone areas)
  • Sealed and waterproofed foundations (with proper drainage)
  • Soundproofing measures

The list is lengthy, but you can create a comfortable stay in the basement. When these features are in place, you can add some furniture and accessories to suit your preferences. You can always refer to the building code to guide you when finishing the basement.

Can Any Basement Be Finished?

Interior of a modern and unfinished basement with wooden walls, opened wooden framing, and recessed lighting, How To Heat An Unfinished Basement

It is possible to finish any basement. There are many possibilities with a finished basement. You can convert it into a recreation room, family theater, or a bedroom for your family. You can also use the space to accommodate guests or even rent it out for income generation.

But before you can finish any basement, you have to prepare the area. You will do the following before you can start finishing:

  • Make the area dry. Check and repair cracks where water leaks.
  • Choose nails, screws, and other fasteners suitable for the type of basement foundation.
  • Plan on how you can mitigate moisture. Know the direction of the insulation and vapor barriers.

One part of the basement that you should leave unfinished is the HVAC unit housing or utility room. You will need to access the room for inspection or repairs. The enclosed space is enough to hide the ductworks that won't compromise the aesthetics inside the basement.

Check out our previous post to see if you can finish a basement with a stone foundation.

What Is The Cheapest Way To Finish A Basement?

Finishing the basement requires a big budget. You have to take into account the material and labor costs to incur for the project. Hiring professionals for different components will also bloat your expenses. Other than these, you will also need to account for permits and other statutory fees.

The cost of finishing the basement will range from $2,800 to $34,500. If you choose high-quality materials and furniture, you will also need to pay more. In the end, your expenses should help you gain more benefits in the long run. Hence, it is best to have a plan when doing this big project.

If you want to save on finishing, you can follow the ideas below:

  • Focus on the ceilings, floors, and walls.
  • Improve one part of the basement.
  • Paint the basement walls and ceilings on your own.
  • Resolve issues about water and moisture.
  • Use luxury vinyl tiles for pleasing and waterproof flooring.
  • You can select sheetrock, ceiling tiles, or paint the ceiling.
  • Avoid hanging light fixtures to make your basement feel spacious.

Doing the finishing on your own is cost-friendly. But if you have little experience in construction, you might make more errors and spend more. If you don't have the skills and time, hiring a contractor for this project is better.

In Closing

New under construction home framing unfinished wood frame building of a basement residential

Do not confuse yourself with a full and finished basement. A full basement remains unfinished unless you finish it. You finish the space by adding essential connections for electricity, heating, and insulation. By doing so, you create extra livable space in your house.

Regardless of basement type, you can always finish it to meet your needs. A finished basement is costly because of the materials and labor costs, and taxes. After all, finishing the basement increases your home's value and functionality. Your family will surely love staying in a comfortable basement.

Read our other articles about basements:

How To Make A Basement Apartment Brighter

Can You Put A Bathroom In A Basement?

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