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should we build a basement on our new house

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 & Linda, Grand Junction

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 oftentimes 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 the main floor or even second story finished living area.

 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 2000 square feet above grade that is valued at $300 per square foot, your below grade value is likely in the $100-$110 per square foot range (even if it is of the walk out basement variety)….. NOT $300 up and $300 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.  It’s a great way to pump up your living space, while remaining budget sensitive.   I say, “go for it!”

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team



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