Should We Add a Basement to the Home We're Building?

Grand Junction Real Estate Advice

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Dear Dave,

We are making plans to build a home in the next year. As you know, there are so many decisions to make as we go into this process. As we are considering builders and building plans, we are trying to make a decision on whether or not to have a walk-out basement in our new home.

Do you consider a basement to be a good use of building costs? Do you think it is a good idea to have a basement or not? We have options for what type of basement to have, just want to know what your opinion is on this.

Thanks for the help!

Don and Linda, Grand Junction, CO


Don and Linda,

Trust me, there are more decisions to make than you can possibly imagine! The commitment to building is high, but so are the rewards. I have been through the process many times and often times the number of decisions to be made can prove to be overwhelming, even for the most prepared. Of all the decisions, to have a basement or not to have a basement may prove one of the easiest!

From a cost perspective, I believe it is hard to find a more cost effective place to add living space than a basement. A basement can prove to be a valuable asset for anyone who needs to inexpensively expand their living or storage space, but can also provide a wonderful and inexpensive option for a woodworking shop or hobby area. Basements are very popular features to most home buyers (something to consider for resale down the road), however don’t expect to get the same value from your inexpensive downstairs living space as you do from main floor or even second story finished living area.

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It is a VERY common mistake to assume that living areas below grade are valued at the same price as their above ground counterpart. Unfortunately, that is NOT how it works. Generally speaking, you can assume that the added value of basement square footage is no more than 50% of the above grade value. This means that if you have 2,000 square feet above grade that is valued at $175 per square foot, your below grade value is likely in the $75-$85 per square foot range (even if it is of the walk-out basement variety)…NOT $175 up and $175 down. Most people think all levels are valued the same, but when it comes to establishing value - below grade living space is just not as valuable as the space above ground level.

To answer your final question, I personally believe basements are a valuable addition to most any home and will be attractive to the majority of future home buyers.

To answer your final question, I personally believe basements are a valuable addition to most any home and will be attractive to the majority of future home buyers. It’s a great way to pump up your living space, while remaining budget sensitive. I say, “go for it!”

Lastly, Merry Christmas to everyone! What a wonderful time of year to focus on friends and family and take time to invest in those closest to us. What I love most about Christmas is the generosity this holiday inspires in people and that the act of giving is pushed into the spotlight. Not to be cliché, but when I stop and think about it, I honestly wish every day could be like Christmas!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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