What Makes a Basement Finished?

An HVAC system, completed levels, proper ceilings, electricity, finished floors, an accessible entrance or stairway, and finished walls are considered a finished basement.

In short, it should look and feel just like any other area of your home that is above ground.

No matter buying or selling a home, one should be fully aware of what is supposed to be a finished basement. Read on what makes a basement finished, why it’s important and how it can double the value of your home.

Is Your Basement Finished? Here Is How You Can Tell.

To determine whether or not your basement is finished, you can inspect it for the facilities mentioned above. Here are the details of what you need to look out for.

Heating, Cooling and Ventilation Systems

The basement should have heating, ventilating and air-conditioning much like the rest of your home to be considered finished and complete. With these systems in place and fully operational, your basement will be as comfortable as other parts of your home. Bear in mind that the basement will have a greater need for ventilation compared to other parts of your home. Since the basement has no windows due to its underground location, you will rely solely on ventilation for fresh air circulation. In the absence of ventilation, not only will the basement feel hot and humid, but it will also eventually lead to problems like dampness, mould, moss, fungus and mildew overgrowth.

It is not enough to have a swamp cooler and a wall heater for regulating the temperature. A properly installed and fully functional HVAC system is necessary for a finished basement.

Depending on the kind of HVAC system you have installed, there must be a supply of electricity and/or natural gas as well.


Does the rest of your home have a hardwood floor, marble tiles, vinyl or carpet? The basement should have the same kind of flooring to be finished. All parts of the basement floor should be covered with the same flooring as the rest of your home. The basement floor should not have bare exposed concrete, plywood or a partially finished surface.

Also, take a look at the walls and ceilings. If there is no drywall and there is just paint on your basement’s concrete walls, then it is unfinished. Likewise, if the basement ceiling has exposed poles and beams, then it will be unfinished.

The ceiling should be at least 7 feet high. If the ceiling is lower than this, then it cannot be regarded as a finished basement. You should be able to walk freely without crouching in a properly finished basement.

Basement Access

You should be able to access your basement easily. There should be permanent stairs that are well finished to have a proper basement. If you can access the basement only via lofts, ladders, or a crudely built entrance, you are looking at an unfinished basement.

In older houses, the basement can be accessed only via a basement level door. So even if the basement interior may be well-built and impressive, it will still be deemed an unfinished basement due to a lack of proper access.

Why Do You Need a Finished Basement?

Having a finished basement is better since it boosts your property value. A fully finished basement means that you are making good use of your limited available real estate.

When your basement ticks all the right boxes, as stated above, then it is just as good as any other area of your home.


When you want to expand your living area, you might think of adding a new floor. However, since most homes have a basement, it would be more cost-effective to develop the underground basement space so that it is complete and fit for normal living. A finished basement is a great way to increase the square footage of living space on your property. It is cheaper than building a new floor.

A properly finished basement can serve you in different ways. For example, it can be your study where you can retreat to get away from all noises and distractions and focus singularly on your work. Or it can serve as a game room where friends and family can gather for quality time and lots of fun.

An unfinished basement may become problematic later on, especially if there is little or no ventilation. The buildup of humidity and moisture can mean moss, mold, and mildew, damaging to your property and expensive to fix. These nasty pathogens may spread to other parts of your home and induce health problems. So you should take care of your basement to avoid property damage and the possible spread of illnesses. An adequately finished, well-ventilated basement is the key to this end.

Here is what you can add to your finished basement.

Recessed Lighting

Good lightings can brighten up the environment to make your finished basement more attractive, inviting and welcoming.

Ceramic Tile Floor

Basements are prone to flooding. Hence it is best to install a tile floor instead of carpets or hardwood.


You will want good insulation so that your basement is comfortable and cozy for the winter. During summer, a well-insulated basement will be better able to retain cooling. This means lower utility bills and more costs savings.


How about using your basement to earn passive income from Airbnb? Your finished basement will need a small kitchen to make it suitable for this purpose. A finished basement is perfect for welcoming Airbnb guests since you and your guests can keep completely separate and avoid disturbances for each other.

Our Final Thoughts

Ensure that your basement is tested for radon since this hazard is a bigger issue in basements. With this in mind and all other factors stated above, you can have a pleasant and comfortable finished basement that adds value to your property.