finished basement

What Is Considered a Finished Basement?

Many homeowners, real estate agents, and homebuyers ask: “What is a finished basement?” It’s a question that many people wonder about, mainly because a finished basement significantly increases the value of a home.

So if you’re in the market for a house and it’s considerably higher than what you expected, there’s a very good chance that its basement is finished. But as you research and compare various properties, you’re likely to find that many homeowners have only a semi-finished area in the basement. 

It might be used as a spare bedroom, exercise space, or some other amenity. Since the room is used as a livable space, one might think it’s complete. However, this is not the case. 

Although used as a living space, there is no rule that says the area must be completed. But if you want to purchase a house that doesn’t require additional expenses to complete, you’re going to want one with a finished basement. 

So, what exactly is a finished basement, and how can you tell the difference between a finished one and an unfinished one? Read on to find out.

What Is a Finished Basement?

When the entire floor is completed and resembles one of the living areas upstairs, it’s a good indication that the basement is completed and therefore finished. Moreover, a finished basement typically includes the following:

  • An accessible entrance (such as a basement door and stairs) 
  • Electrical systems
  • Heating and air
  • Finished floors
  • Finished walls
  • Level ceilings

If a bedroom is designated within the space, it should probably have both a closet and a window. Such would constitute a complete bedroom. However, the homeowner’s preferences may dictate that there are additional amenities in the bedroom that fall outside of the norm. 

Consider these a bonus. As long as the basement meets the remaining conditions, you can consider it finished. Keep reading to find out how you can tell whether a basement is finished. 

How to Tell if a Basement Is Finished

Most people can tell if a basement is finished with a quick look around. But looks can be deceiving at times, so there needs to be further checks to determine if the basement is indeed finished.

For starters, is there a heating and air system in place? What does it look like? If the basement is not capable of being heated or cooled, it’s usually a pretty good indication that the basement is not yet complete.

Furthermore, a window-unit AC does not make a basement complete. For a basement to be finished, it has to have a heating and air system installed and operational. 

That means continuous power running to the system. This can include the following:

  • Propane tank (permanently installed)
  • HVAC system
  • Natural gas
  • Heating oil
  • Electricity

Next up, you want to check to see if the basement matches everything else in the house. This means there should be carpeting or tiling, for example, not just concrete floors and walls.

If the basement only has concrete and not any additional materials that ideally match other aspects of the home, it’s safe to assume that you’re looking at an unfinished basement.

What’s more, partial flooring, carpeting, tiling, etc., won’t cut it. The entirety of the basement must be completed in the material(s) of choice. If you can see exposed plywood or concrete, the basement isn’t finished.

The same applies to the ceiling and walls. No drywall means incomplete. And if you can see exposed beams when you look up at the ceiling, more work needs to be done.

Is the Basement Accessible?

This is another important factor that must be considered. A finished basement will be accessible, such as via stairs and a basement door that leads outside. 

Although the latter isn’t required, a finished basement will have stairs that lead to the upper portion of the house. This contiguous access makes the basement complete and finished (assuming that the basement meets the other conditions listed above).

And while a basement might have only a basement-level door that leads outside or into a garage, it’s still likely to be deemed unfinished without a contiguous stairwell leading upstairs.

Call Guardian Angel Inspections in Palm Beach County

Guardian Angel Inspections Inc. delivers professional home inspection services for your peace of mind. Regardless of your needs, you can trust our inspection experts to meet them. For example, you might be:

  • A potential buyer making sure a property is safe
  • A seller checking what items need addressing before listing
  • A current homeowner needing an insurance inspection
  • A real estate agent trying to find their client the best inspection company

We can inspect the property to help you determine whether the basement is finished or unfinished. So call Guardian Angel Inspections today to discuss your home inspection needs. You can reach us at (561) 512-7854.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.