The term “partially finished basement” can be a bit misleading.
Understanding exactly what the term “partially finished basement” refers to will especially help when you are shopping for a house.
A partially finished basement is often referred to in a home listing, and it can impact the value of a home.
Let’s take a look at the different types of basements so that you can understand what exactly a partially finished basement is.
What Is a Partially Finished Basement?
A partially finished basement will have some livable space, but it will not resemble the other floors in the home.
Partially finished basements will have some type of flooring that is not just the bare basement slab.
These basements will also have walls, but they may not have trim or the fixtures that you would get throughout the rest of the home.
One of the main signs that a basement is only partially finished is the ceiling.
In a finished basement, you will notice that the ceiling is no longer exposed, and it is open to viewing.
The partially finished basement is usually used as a rec room type of space or a place for kids to play.
The basement will likely not be a place for people to stay or to live as it does not have all of the same features as the rest of the house.
If you are purchasing a home and the basement is listed as partially finished, you will know that this will cost you quite a bit less money to finish.
The fact that the basement has some of the work already completed will undoubtedly make the overall project of finishing the basement quite a bit easier.
Three Basement Types
There are three basic conditions that you can find a basement in.
They are finished basement, unfinished basement, and partially finished basement.
Let’s look at these three types to determine which one you have in your home.
1. Finished Basement
A finished basement is a room just like any other room in your home.
This means that, if you walked from your finished basement into your living room, you would notice many of the same features and comforts as well.
A finished basement is somewhere you can live and spend time.
You can use a finished basement as a rec room, an office, or even a gym.
Typically, a finished basement will have comfortable flooring, heating and cooling features, and lighting fixtures to make it feel a bit less like a basement.
A finished basement is an excellent addition to a home, and it will undoubtedly increase the value of the home itself.
The finished basement can be divided into several rooms, and it will become like an additional floor for your home.
People enjoy finishing their basements because it becomes a substantial extension of the home’s overall living space.
Essentially, you can double the size of your home if a basement is done right.
2. Unfinished Basement
An unfinished basement is probably the most common type of basement.
These basements are going to have the basic supplies a home needs like a water heater, furnace, sometimes washer and dryer, and storage.
The basement will not have a finished ceiling, walls, or floors.
The area is not heated or cooled with the rest of the house, and it is simply used as more of a rough area.
You will see exposed pipes in an unfinished basement.
Some people will set up a work area in an unfinished basement.
Since there are no nice finishing touches in the basement, the workshop will likely not do any damage to the basement.
It’s important to remember that the temperature in an unfinished basement is not going to be controlled.
3. Partially Finished Basement
A partially finished basement is essentially a half-finished basement.
This is a place where families may put a ping pong table, but they don’t have the basement completely inhabitable.
You will find that this is done in an effort to save money.
Finishing a basement costs quite a bit, and sometimes, if it comes down to finances, people will only partially finish their basement.
Even though these basements are not complete, they do provide a great place to put gym equipment.
One of the things you have to watch out for in a partially finished basement is the moisture level.
Since the temperature is likely not controlled in the partially finished basement, there are times when moisture can become a real issue.
Having a partially finished basement can be more useful than having an unfished basement.
However, this is still not a complete extension of the living space the way a finished basement is.
How to Tell If a Basement Is Considered Finished
Some basements are a bit borderline when it comes to whether or not they are finished.
There are a few things that will need to be in place for a basement to be considered finished.
Here are a few of the ways to tell if your basement is finished.
1. Heating and Cooling System
The heating and cooling system needs to be in place in a finished basement.
If you walk down the stairs into your basement and you need a jacket, chances are the heating and cooling system is not working.
Some people will try to avoid incorporating the heating and cooling system into their basement.
This comes down to the costs involved.
Not only is it expensive to get this system set up, but it will also cost quite a bit of money to keep it running.
The finished basement covers a large area of space, and your electric bill is undoubtedly going to increase.
If you put a smaller window AC or a space heater in a basement, it is not considered finished.
Although this can help regulate the temperature, it is still not considered an extension of your living space the same way a heating or cooling system is.
2. Matching Finishes
When you take a look at the basement, does it match the rest of the house?
If there is an old remnant piece of carpet on the floor in the basement, chances are it is not finished.
If you have any area of your basement that has exposed concrete or even plywood, it is not considered to be finished.
Take a look at the walls of the basement as well.
If they are cinder blocks, they are not considered to be finished.
A properly finished basement has interior walls.
Those walls are likely painted and may even have molding or trim on them that will match the rest of the house.
Without these matching finishes, the basement is not going to be considered finished.
3. Access to the Basement
Another way to determine if the basement of your home is considered to be finished is to consider how you get to the basement.
For starters, if you have to exit the home to get to exterior doors into the basement, it will likely be unfished.
This is tough in certain situations when the basement is entirely finished except for the access point.
Although the homeowner will not get to consider this a fully finished basement, many potential buyers would give it just as much regard when it comes to pricing.
For a truly finished basement, you will need interior stairs down to the basement from inside the house.
These stairs are permanent stairs and not something that was temporarily put in place to get you down to the basement.
Take a look at the way these stairs are finished.
There should be walls on either side of the stairs and not exposed studs and pipes.
Most of the time, when you open the door to the basement stairs, you will quickly be able to see if the basement is finished.
Is a Finished Basement Considered Livable Space?
A finished basement is considered livable.
However, when you consider the overall square footage of a home, the square footage of the finished basement will not be added on.
For instance, if a 2000-square-foot home has a 1500-sqare-foot finished basement, it will still be considered a 2000-square-foot home.
It is unfortunate that this space cannot be considered part of the overall square footage.
However, when you consider the different stipulations and requirements for a finished basement, it is no wonder that these spaces can’t be added as square footage.
It would be too difficult to manage the rules and regulations of this process.
Does a Bedroom and a Bath in the Basement Count Toward Total Bedrooms and Bathrooms in the House?
If you have a three bedroom, two bath home and you add a bedroom and bath to the basement, will your numbers go up?
When an appraiser comes to take a look at your home, it will be noted that you have this extra space, but the total number of beds and baths will not change.
In order for a bedroom and a bath to count towards the home, it needs to be above grade.
Although your numbers are not going to change, what really matters is what people will think of the home.
If a home has the space and features that a family needs, chances are they are not going to be too worried about the overall specifications.
If there are enough rooms and bathrooms to accommodate the entire family, the details on the listing sheet will not matter.
It can be quite expensive to add a bedroom and a bathroom to your basement.
The pricing is going to have to include plenty of fixtures, material, and labor.
Even though you won’t be able to add this new square footage to your totals, you will still have a chance to get your money back.
Homes with completely finished basements that are up to date are going to sell for more money.
People like the extra space regardless of what they plan to use it for.
Keep the basement open, light, and neutral.
Let people imagine the possibilities that they could use this for.
After all, basements are perfect playrooms, craft rooms, offices, and more.
The partially finished basement is an excellent addition to a home, but it falls short of the fully finished basement.
If you are looking at homes and find that one has a partially finished basement, try to get some extra details.
If all the home basement needs is a new floor, you may have found yourself a great deal.
If there is no temperature control in the basement, you will probably need to make a greater investment into finishing the basement.
The partially finished basement still offers plenty of functionality, so keep this in mind if you need some extra space for storage or that ping pong table you have always wanted.