Example picture of a refinished basement

The Cost to Finish a Basement in Wisconsin 2024

While many homes in Wisconsin have basements, many do not have finished basements featuring actual living space below ground. Finishing your basement can improve the value of your house while also giving your family additional living space for gathering, playing, spending time and entertaining. 

Every basement finishing project is different, but understanding the components that go into finishing a basement and their costs can help you decide if this useful home improvement project is in your budget. 

Why Finish Your Wisconsin Basement?

When you consider the cost to finish your Wisconsin basement, keep in mind the benefits that make this home improvement project worthwhile. 

  • Return on investment. Expect to enjoy about a 75% return on investment when you finish your basement. If you're planning to sell your home in the next few years, you'll be able to recover your costs and enjoy your home improvement in the meantime. 
  • More living space. Want to keep your kids close, but not too close? Once you finish your basement, you’ll be able to send them to the basement family room, where they’ll be out of sight but still home and safe.
  • No need to move. If you’re struggling to find space in your house and considering a move, finishing your basement can bypass the need to upend your life. You can stay at home and enjoy more space at the same time.  

Basement Finishing Costs

The cost to finish your basement is always going to be dependent upon the scope of work. The scope of work includes details like:

Basement Size – a larger basement will require more raw materials and labor than a smaller one.

The Type and Age of Basement – a fully below ground basement will have different requirements than a garden level basement or full walk-out. For instance, in a fully below ground basement you will need more lighting than in a walk-out basement. Similarly, an older basement may have windows that no longer meet code for a bedroom and need to be replaced.

The Basement’s Condition – if your basement frequently has water when it rains, it might require a French drain, sump pit and pump or both. Additionally, if your basement floor is not level, it may need to be leveled to install the type of flooring you want.

Roughed in Plumbing – if you want an additional bathroom or two in your basement, does the basement already have roughed in plumbing or does the concrete floor need to be jack hammered to install a drain?

Radon – Many people don’t consider radon when finishing their basements. But radon is an odorless gas that comes up from underground. It is the number two cause of lung cancer in the United States. If you are putting bedrooms in the basement you might want to have a radon test done and if the results are above 4.0 picocuries, you might need a radon mitigation system installed as part of the finish.

Amenities and Features - these are the things that can really take your basement finish and drive the price out of budget. When I say amenities and features, I’m talking about the things you get to choose. For instance, you don’t choose the lumber, but you do choose the fixtures, the flooring, the cabinets, countertops and other amenities. Your choices can take your project over the top if you are not careful. A good example is shower heads. Have you ever looked at the price of shower heads? They range in price from $40 all the way to well over $1000. So just keep that in mind as you are thinking about what you want and let your contractor know anything that you absolutely have to have.  

Other Costs When Finishing a Basement

Some costs are unavoidable when you’re finishing a basement. Below are some examples. Your contractor will go over the costs with you during the consultation before you sign a contract.

Contractor fee – Expect to pay a fixed contractor fee for services, labor, design, and overhead costs. Every contractor charges different rates but you shouldn’t choose a contractor just on price. We’ll talk about that more later. 

Permits – Basement finishing projects require a permit. Permitting fees vary depending on the scope of the project, with some projects requiring more inspector visits. Getting a permit is important – don’t work with a contractor who is willing to bypass permitting requirements to do the work. Unpermitted work can devalue your home and make it difficult to sell.

HVAC – Climate control helps reduce humidity in the air and keep your basement comfortable year-round. Depending on the state of your basement and the type of heat in your home, your contractor may suggest installing baseboard or ceramic heating and a built-in dehumidifier to reduce moisture in summer.  

Get an Estimate

Before you decide whether to finish your basement or not, get an estimate. All good contractors will give you a quote in writing. To give you an example, here is a quote we did recently for a 982 Sq Ft basement finish.

Variable Costs



 $            600.00

Soundproof ceiling

 $         1,500.00

Rough framing materials

 $         2,000.00

Framing labor

 $         3,202.50

Trim materials

 $         3,500.00

Trim labor

 $         3,702.50

Insulation - walls only

 $         1,800.00

Drywall with one coat of paint - one color

 $         8,464.00


 $         2,450.00

Floor leveling (Optional)

$         2,000.00

Flooring - Luxury Vinyl Plank and Carpet at $7 sq ft

 $         6,405.00

Lights (non-recessed)

 $            350.00

Cabinet w/ countertop and wall mirror

 $            900.00


 $         3,000.00


 $         7,320.00


 $         4,500.00

Shower door

 $         2,000.00


 $            350.00

Sub-total Variable Costs:

 $      54,044.00

Fixed Costs


Contractor Fee

 $         8,000.00


 $      62,044.00

We gave the homeowner an estimate based on modest fixtures. They can certainly spend more if they choose higher-end amenities. This basement came in at $55 per square foot plus the contractor fee. You can use that as a starting point.  

Ways to Save

If saving money is important to you, there are opportunities to save money in your basement finishing project. Overall, limiting the scope of your project can help - as long as you can still meet your remodeling goals by saving. These tips can help.

  • Know your goals. Make a list of goals for your upcoming basement finishing project, to help keep the scope of your project under control.
  • Know your must-haves versus nice-to-haves. Make a list of the things that your basement finishing project must include – and those things that don't need to be included to accomplish your goals.
  • Plan ahead. Last-minute plans are more expensive than well-laid plans. Among other things, planning ahead gives you time to shop around and price compare, and gives you time to choose the best materials and fixtures for your home improvement.
  • Avoid last-minute changes. Last-minute changes may require your contractor to undo work that has already been done, which could cost you more than if you had decided to include that fixture from the very beginning.

Basement Finishing Tips

These tips can help you make your basement finishing project a success.

Work with Contractor to Plan the Layout

You might have an idea about the layout of your basement finishing project, but your contractor will have some pro-tips that can mean the difference between an ordinary and extraordinary finished basement.

  • Put living spaces in good areas with natural lighting. Install living spaces like a family room on the side of your home that gets the best exposure to natural lighting, then install one or more egress windows to ensure good lighting.
  • Install a bathroom for convenience and value. Adding a bathroom in your basement makes the space more convenient and also improves your home’s value – especially if your home only has one bathroom at this time.
  • Don’t forget storage. Basements provide valuable storage space – so don’t forget to build storage spaces into your finished basement. Your contractor can help you evaluate your storage needs and add storage space that’s functional and practical as well.

Hire the Right Contractor

As you’re vetting contractors, you may encounter low-cost contractors that underbid the competition. It can be tempting to hire a contractor that offers to do the work at a low cost, but beware that often when contractors are a lot lower than their competitors, they are buying work. This can and often does end bad for the homeowner.

When you are interviewing contractors be sure to ask them for references. You’ll want to know if they show up when they say they are going to. Do they clean up after themselves? Ask the references how they were while working in their homes. Were they polite and professional or rowdy and blasting music?

Be sure to ask the contractor if they are insured and get a copy of their Certificate of Insurance before they start work. You want to be certain that if anyone gets hurt on the job you are not stuck paying the bills.

For quality basement finishing and custom home building in Wisconsin, contact Sugar Creek Homes. With over 20 years in the business, we perform high-value home building and basement finishing in Dane and Northern Green Counties in Wisconsin.  




Sugar Creek Homes, LLC

8623 Messerschmidt Drive Verona WI 53593

608.658.1127   |   EMAIL ME

Hours: 6am – 9pm Mon-Fri; Weekends by Appt

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