Do you build a deck or finish a basement if you can only do 1?

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Which option adds more value to a home? I know that below grade square footage isn't as valuable as above within the house, but how does it compare to adding a deck?


If it's a cold climate, a basement can be used year round. The summers are nice because it's cool down there and the winters are nice because it's extra space for holiday gatherings. In a cold climate you generally have to shovel off your deck when it snows and really don't use it. So I would say a basement is better.

In a warm climate, you'd like to have cookouts and gatherings outdoors so it would seem a deck would be better.

This is not based on anything scientific, just observational.

Been struggling with this same question here in NJ. Do I put up a nice wooden covered deck with screens ( no window glazing allowed or I have to build it to code as living space, electric heat etc) or finish bsmt where there are a lot more permit hurdles and costs to jump through. Where am I going to get a better return?. Been checking out comps and it is tough to say. Deck as proposed would be a lot cheeper and same size as bsmt (but can only use 6-7 months) Bsmt more expensive but can use year round... tough choice.

Depending on the neighborhood/construction style, a cheap basement finishing can go a long way.

For a few hundred try spraying the walls/ceiling white and painting the cement floors. Add some lights, curtains (even if the window is tiny) a rug, tv and a futon, it looks alot better than you'd think.

A finished basement while not adding square footage per appraisal rules will add some value.

A deck will cost less and probably add less value also.

However, we had a recent discussion here on BP about finished attics and basements. I don't like either personally.

For a basement it can be cold damp, mold prone and illegal if it does not have egress windows. It can be a fire hazard and increases your liability for a rental property. Of all the property that we have only 2 have finished basements and we did NOT finish either they came with the property and we most certainly did NOT pay more for them and given my dislike for them we paid less than we would have if there was no finished basement.

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