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Semi Finished Basement: Pros and Cons to Consider



V Susan
Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com


Semi Finished Basement

A semi-finished basement has incomplete finishing works in certain areas, such as walls, ceilings, and floors. For instance, it can have a bedroom and a bathroom with proper floor and wall finishing, while another utility room might have unfinished flooring and wall surfaces.

Some people choose to leave their basements semi-finished due to budget reasons.

Even without proper finishing, a basement can still function effectively.

In addition, basements do not affect a home’s general aesthetic appeal since no one except the homeowners tends to see them.

This article aims to discuss the factors that deem a basement as a semi-finished one and compare it to a finished and an unfinished basement.

What is Considered a Semi-Finished Basement?

A semi-finished basement is one that has finished floors, walls, and ceilings in some areas, whereas other parts may have an incomplete finish.

The bedroom, living room, and bathroom in the basement may be finished with wooden flooring or tiles.

However, a work or study space may be left incomplete, with only a concrete finish.

Semi-finished basements also have functioning electrical, plumbing, and HVAC works.

Additionally, a semi-finished basement makes it easier to spot leaks and damages in the basement.

Homeowners don’t usually find a need to spend extra money on finishing unimportant areas in a basement unless it is used as a living space.

Semi Finished Basement
Semi Finished Basement

What is Considered an Unfinished Basement?

Unfinished basements have incomplete finishing on walls, ceilings, and floors and are left as such to save expenses.

However, they allow the installation of utilities such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems and can be used for storage.

In contrast to unfinished basements, finished basements add value to a home.

Unfinished Basement
Unfinished Basement

What is Considered a Finished Basement?

A finished basement includes fully finished walls and ceilings, proper flooring, complete insulation, and paint covering the entire area.

They must also have all the utilities, including electrical, plumbing, and HVAC ducts, properly installed and fully functional.

It is completely habitable and can be used as a living room, a private room, or a recreational room.

When you finish a basement, you can also consider making it a walkout basement, which can bring a lot of light and fresh air.

To deem a basement finished, it has to meet strict guidelines set up by the building codes and local realtors.

Finished Basement
Finished Basement

How Do You Make a Semi-Finished Basement Livable?

There are several ways by which you can make a semi-finished basement more attractive and habitable.

First, hide all the wires and ducts to make it safer and cleaner to live in.     

The next thing you should do is install electrical outlets to give more convenience to the inhabitants.

Since the basement is usually quite dark, install an overhead light to make it bright.

It is also important to regularly clean the basement and keep it dry to avoid moisture damage.

A good structural solution is a basement knee wall that can prevent damage due to water seepage.

Drying the joists with low-pressure fans in conjunction with dehumidification is another option for preventing moisture damage.

The cheapest method to make a basement more presentable is to paint over the walls, ceilings, and floors.

Should You Finish Your Basement?

The decision to finish a basement depends on your requirements and financial considerations.

Adds Value to a House

Finishing a basement has a lot of advantages attached to it.

First, the biggest advantage of finishing a basement is that it adds value to a home.

This is done in both the literal monetary sense as well as in terms of personal value.

For people who are keen on selling their houses, a finished basement fetches a higher offer for their houses.

Homeowners in the United States can expect a 70-75% return on their investments spent on a finished basement.

Additionally, a finished basement enhances energy efficiency due to the insulation in its components.

You can also set up the basement as a separate living space and rent it out.

Finished Basement
Finished Basement

Overcome Zoning Restrictions

Zoning restrictions may stop you from making additions to your house.

Expanding upwards may also not be an option if the house is already two stories long.

In zones with such restrictions, finished basements are a great way to increase the capacity and functionality of your house.

Additional Bedrooms and Bathrooms

In a finished basement, you can add extra bedrooms and increase the size of your house.

It also adds value to a house and helps in selling a property more quickly.

This is especially important for large families. You may even be able to have up to two bedrooms depending on the basement design.

One can consider a space as a bedroom if it has two points of egress.

In addition to a door, a window can also be counted as an egress if a firefighter can climb in through it.

A closet is another condition for a bedroom.

You can also add an additional bathroom in the basement, making it more suitable to live in.

However, adding a bathroom will bring up more costs in terms of plumbing and tiling.

Alternative Uses for a Finished Basement

Finished basements can also be used as recreational spaces.

You can turn them into a gym, a spa, a guest space, and a gaming zone.

A finished basement also provides more storage space.

No Need for High-End Materials

You do not need to use expensive materials to finish your basement.

In fact, some wooden finishes, like hardwood, are a terrible choice for floor and wall finishing as they are susceptible to water damage.

Various cost-effective materials are available to finish a basement.

Examples include drywall paneling, carpeting, vinyl flooring, and paint to make a basement functional.

Cost to Finish a Basement

Finishing a basement can cost between $20,000 to $80,000, depending on the size and work required in the basement.

However, the overall cost may increase if load-bearing members, such as basement beams, need to be replaced or reinforced.

The more you invest in a basement, the greater the value of your house.

Does A Finished Basement Increase Property Tax?

If you have taken appropriate permits for finishing your basement, then your local government/authority will count your basement as a living space and will tax it.

To avoid this tax, people often leave their basements semi-finished and just make them functional without finishing them completely.

Unfinished Basement
Unfinished Basement

How to Know if a Basement is Finished or Semi Finished

Floors and Ceilings

A finished basement is one that has covered floors. The covering can be of different materials.

Floors can be covered with tiles, flooring sheets, or even a carpet.

The ceilings should also have a fire-resistant drywall covering.

If a basement does not have these coverings in all its areas, then it is an unfinished basement.

On the other hand, if only some rooms and areas of a basement have floor and ceiling coverings, then it is termed a semi-finished basement.


The walls of a finished basement must have proper insulation and wall finishing.

Having insulation in concrete walls saves a lot of energy and reduces expenses.

Drywall finishing is a common covering applied to walls in a basement.

Other finishing materials include cement boards, tiles, plastic paneling, and wooden planks.

If it only has insulation and covering in some of its walls, then it is a partially finished basement.


In finished basements, interior stairs going up to the upper floor are required.

These stairs must be covered with tiles, carpet, or other coverings.

Trap doors and ladders cannot be used as a replacement for stairs in a finished basement.

Not having stairs with proper finishing makes a basement unfinished.


A finished basement should have properly installed electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems.

Depending upon the homeowner’s choice, you can have a false ceiling to cover the different ducts and wiring.

Finished basements also have proper lighting in accordance with the building codes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do Unfinished Basements Have an Odor?

Unfinished basements lack proper ventilation and insulation, leading to moisture issues.

This results in mold and mildew growth, which produces a musty odor.

What Should Not be Stored in a Basement?

Avoid storing delicate items such as glassware and artwork to avoid the risk of accidental damage.

Additionally, it is not advisable to store food items in basements as they are susceptible to moisture and mold growth.

Does Summer or Winter have a Greater Impact on Basement Humidity?

Basement humidity is higher in summer than in winter.

This is because warm air holds more moisture than cold air.

V Susan
Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com