How Much Does a Basement Remodel Cost in Portland?

Thinking about a basement remodel for your Portland home? Remodeling your basement can often be a great investment. It increases your usable living space, can improve your property value, and offers endless ways to customize your home to your needs. For Portland homeowners considering a project like this, one of the first steps towards making a decision is figuring out how much a basement remodel will cost.

As one of the Portland Metro Area’s top remodeling companies, Lamont Bros. has partnered with many local homeowners to transform their basements. We’ve seen projects as simple as converting an unfinished basement into a finished one and as complicated as a total foundation replacement.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the cost to remodel a basement in Portland. When you’re done reading, you’ll be able to more accurately estimate how much your basement remodel might cost. With this information, you’ll be one step closer to deciding if a basement remodel is the right decision for you.

Topics you can expect to learn about include:

What are the different types of basement remodels?

To find the most accurate cost estimate, it’s helpful to categorize different basement remodels into one of three categories:

  • Basement finishing
  • Custom basement remodel
  • Basement foundation remodel

Each of these types of projects requires a different scope of work and offers different benefits to the homeowner. As a result, their price ranges will also be different from one another.

Basement finishing ($75,000-$125,000)

When you already have an unfinished basement that’s dry, sealed, and up to code, you may choose to finish the basement. This is almost always the least expensive option and can be a great way to easily add living space to your home.

The process of finishing a basement involves several steps. First, your team will add wood-framed walls and insulation to the inside of the basement’s exterior concrete walls. If you plan to split the basement up into separate rooms, they’ll frame the interior walls in, too. Then, they’ll add drywall and paint to the walls and ceiling, install finished lighting fixtures, and add flooring.

Many homeowners choose to finish their basements so they can use them more frequently. Media rooms, music studios, kids’ play areas, or home gyms are all popular uses for a finished basement. Keep in mind that simply finishing a basement will only add living space. If you’re looking to add a kitchen, bathroom, or utility room to your basement, that falls outside the scope of a basement finishing.

Custom basement remodel ($150,000 – $200,000)

Perhaps instead of simply finishing an unfinished basement, you want to change the function of the space itself. Some homeowners choose to turn their basements into separate living spaces, like a mother-in-law suite. Others simply want to add a bathroom or a laundry room to the basement. These types of projects fall into a separate category: a custom basement remodel.

Redesigning a basement’s function or use purpose often requires changing utilities such as plumbing, electrical, or HVAC. Some projects in this category may also require concrete cutting, structural retrofitting, or minor excavation. Basement remodels that involve plumbing can be especially difficult because drainage lines must run underneath the concrete floor of the basement. Adding a bathroom to a basement alone can cost $60,000 to $70,000.

If you plan to add a bedroom to your basement, this may also fall into the custom basement category in some circumstances. For example, if the basement does not already have one, you may have to add an egress window to count the space as an additional bedroom. This will require additional excavation and cutting of the concrete walls of the basement.

Basement foundation remodel ($250,000+)

In some cases, a basement requires extensive alterations to the foundation itself to meet the homeowner’s needs. As the most expensive type of basement remodel, a foundation remodel involves significant structural and concrete work beneath the home.

Foundation remodels include projects in which the homeowner wants to convert their crawl space into a basement or increase the basement’s ceiling height. The only options in these situations are to either raise the house on industrial jacks or lower the basement floor with excavation equipment. Both options can be very expensive and require careful planning.

In other cases, the home’s foundation is already compromised and needs to be replaced. This type of basement remodel can cost a lot, and unfortunately is a common problem in older Portland homes. Homeowners will often take the opportunity to redesign their basement foundation since they’ll be getting an entirely new one, anyway.

Foundation remodels are by far the most customizable type of basement remodel because they allow you to change the dimensions of the basement foundation itself. However, they are also the most expensive and intrusive option.

How much does a basement remodel cost in Portland?

Over the last five years, the average cost for a Portland area basement remodel with Lamont Bros. was $196,110. The least expensive basement remodel we performed was $84,000, while the most expensive was $335,000.

The type of contractor you hire to perform your remodel will impact the total project cost. A design-build firm like Lamont Bros., which offers full-process design and construction services, tends to be in the middle range for remodeling costs. General contractors, handymen, and high-end luxury construction firms all have different methods of construction and different pricing structures. It’s important to select the right type of remodel contractor that meets your needs and expectations for your remodel.

Where does the money go in a basement remodel budget?

Before you commit to paying several thousand dollars for a basement remodel, perhaps you want to know how the money will be spent. Below is a breakdown of several cost items for a custom basement remodel with minimal foundation work.

Finish Work — 19%

When you’re finishing or re-finishing a basement, there’s a lot of detailed work that happens after all the major framing and utility components are in place. This can include installing trim and hardware, fitting doors, installing shelves, and any other carpentry work that needs to be done to complete the project.

Plumbing, Electrical, and HVAC — 15%

Adding a bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen to a basement remodel will require utility lines for plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. Even without adding these amenities, you’ll still likely need some light to moderate electrical work.

Painting & Drywall — 14%

There’s a lot of wall and ceiling space in a basement. If you’re finishing your basement, it’s going to require a lot of drywall work. At a bare minimum, you’ll end up paying for drywall on all of the foundation walls. Beyond that, any interior walls will need drywall and paint, as well.

Flooring — 12%

When finishing a basement, you’ll also need to install flooring throughout the space. It’s important to choose a flooring material based on how you plan to use the space. Flooring can range in cost from a few dollars per square foot for sheet vinyl to over $20 for premium hardwood.

Framing & Insulation — 11%

The framing and insulation ensure that your space is energy efficient and your interior walls are up to code. Depending on the floor plan of your basement, the framing and insulation may require a lot of materials and man hours to complete.

General and Administrative — 10%

If you hire a construction company to do your basement remodel, they provide value and expertise to the process of your remodel. The higher the value that the contractor brings to the relationship, the higher their G&A costs will be. Showroom space, warehouse and shipping costs, and administrative personnel all fall under this category.

Demolition — 5%

Before any actual construction can begin, you have to start with demolition. Demolition isn’t just about destroying things in the way — it’s about preparing the space for the build process ahead. The demolition process can take several days when preparing for a basement remodel.

Excavation & Foundation — 4%

With almost any basement remodel, there is some form of foundation work involved. Whether it be cutting into the floor to install a new drainage pipe or adding structural support to the basement walls, you can expect at least some foundation and excavation costs. For basement foundation remodels, this cost item makes up a larger portion of the final bill.

Cabinets & Countertops — 3%

Unlike kitchens where this item makes up 30% of the total bill, basements tend to have a relatively low cabinet or countertop cost. However, if you’re adding a kitchen or bathroom, or just want some cabinetry for storage, you can expect at least some expenses in this category.

Design — 3%

Every good remodel begins with a good design. This is especially true for basement remodeling. For expensive projects like these, it’s important to get it right the first time. Hiring a professional designer to plan out the project can help you avoid inconvenient errors and surprise expenses down the road.

Cleanup — 2%

Before you begin using your brand-new basement, your contractor should take the initiative to clean the space up so it looks great when you first step in. At Lamont Bros., we hire a professional cleaning service to deep clean the entire remodel area.

Permits — 2%

The more complicated a basement remodel is, the more expensive its permits will be. For basement remodels that don’t affect the home’s structure, your project will likely need an electrical permit and plumbing permit. Projects involving a house lift or excavation require more.

What factors can increase the cost of a basement remodel?

Nobody wants to pay more than they need to for their home improvement project. However, it can be difficult to avoid unnecessary costs when you don’t know where to look for them. Here are a few things you should avoid when trying to remodel your basement on a tight budget.

Structural changes or repairs

Altering the structure of your basement foundation can cost several thousand dollars.

Any time you have to make alterations to the structure of your basement, expect the cost to go up. Unfortunately, it’s also very difficult to find alternatives. If you need to raise the ceiling of your basement to meet the code requirements, there aren’t a lot of options. If you need to waterproof the basement to prevent water intrusion, that’s also somewhat non-negotiable.

The best way to avoid structural costs with a basement remodel is to avoid homes with structurally compromised foundations in the first place. If you’re already in a home and are facing several challenges with your foundation, the next best option is to work with a designer who can help you be proactive about keeping the cost low as you plan your remodel.

Adding new plumbing utilities

As mentioned above, plumbing in a basement can cost a lot of money. That’s why avoiding major plumbing work on your remodel can save 5-10% of your total project cost. If your basement already has plumbing lines, you’ll be better off making use of what’s already there rather than running new ones.

However, sometimes, you need extra plumbing to achieve the design goals for your basement. In this case, a good designer can help you arrange the plumbing to make it as efficient as possible so you only pay for what you need.

Basement plumbing often requires cutting into concrete.


For as simple as it sounds, moving dirt can be expensive. The options to excavate ground are to either do it by hand or rent equipment. Hand-digging is suitable for smaller excavation projects but still involves many labor hours to get it done. Machine excavation is much faster, but machine rentals are only cost-effective on larger digs.

Unfortunately, basement remodeling can involve a lot of excavation, even if you don’t need to dig your basement floor down. Egress windows and exterior access doors both require moving ground to install. Exterior waterproofing can require excavating land away from your exterior walls, as well.

How can you keep costs low when remodeling a basement?

To make sure you get the best value for your money when remodeling your basement, there are a few action steps you can take. Here are the things we recommend you do to make the most of your remodeling experience.

Work with a professional designer

Designing a remodel can be a challenge. Not only do you have to identify your needs and desires for your home, but you also have to translate those ideas into tangible designs. When you work with a professional designer, you don’t have to carry the responsibility of getting the designs right.

Instead, your designer will help you identify the issues you’re experiencing with your home and develop a set of design plans that solve your problems without spending more than necessary. Professional remodel designers are experts in value engineering — they can help you achieve your remodel dreams with cost-effective design solutions.

Work within the basement space you have

You’ll save yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars by using what’s already available in your basement. If you can avoid raising the ceiling height or changing anything about your basement foundation, you can focus your attention and money on building an amazing space within the existing space.

Going this route can certainly put limitations on your project — especially if raising the ceiling height is the only way to turn your basement into legal living space. However, if you can find a way to utilize your basement to meet your needs without needing to alter the concrete foundation, this approach will help save you a lot of money.

Need a designer’s help planning your remodel?

Now that you understand more about what it might cost to remodel the basement in your Portland home, take the next step! Keep up your basement remodel research by checking out our Basement Portfolio. Here, you can see examples of previous Lamont Bros. basement remodels and read more about our remodeling process.

Ready to start designing your basement remodel, but don’t want to do it alone? Good choice! Click the link below to schedule a free design consultation with a member of our remodeling team. We’ll help you navigate the tricky process of remodeling your basement and help turn your current home into your dream home.