When one buys a house with a fully done basement, is it known as a furnished basement or a finished basement? I’ve heard both used, but I was always under the impression that the right usage is a furnished basement. I thought, being that the words sound similar, the two terms became confused and eventually interchangeable, but perhaps both are correct. Regardless, any logical, coherent answer to this question would be appreciated!

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    Furnished means it has furniture as opposed to unfurnished meaning it has no furniture. Finished means it is plumbed (has plumbing), has electrical, is painted, etc. You could have bare stud walls with furniture and technically be furnished but not finished. You could have a finished basement with no furniture, so it would be considered not "finished" (aka unfinished). – JeffC Aug 8 '18 at 20:02
  • @JeffC Electrical I could agree with, but I don't think that all finished basements are plumbed. – Kenneth K. Aug 8 '18 at 20:49
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    @KennethK. Well finished means finished walls so if you plan to have plumbing, you better have it in before the walls are done. I guess it's possible to not have any plumbing at all in a basement, I've just never seen it that I remember. Usually a basement has a laundry room, a water heater, a bathroom, or a sink ... some reason to have plumbing. – JeffC Aug 8 '18 at 21:01
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    @JeffC Please don't post answers as comments. – David Richerby Aug 9 '18 at 13:41

Both expressions are used, they just refer to different contexts:

Finished basement:

a basement that has floors, ceilings, and walls like the rooms in the main part of the house. (M-W)

Photo of a basement with a carpeted floor, painted walls, and a drop ceiling with recessed lighting.

Furnished basement:

A basement equipped with furniture so that you can comfortably live in it.

Photo of a basement with a TV, couch, chair, dresser, rugs, and artwork.

From fullhomeliving.com

Please compare with a partially finished basement:

Photo of basement with a linoleum floor and painted walls but with exposed support posts and an exposed ceiling.

From Tim Wohforth Blog

  • 12
    It would be unusual, but not impossible, to furnish an unfinished basement. I would ask whether a basement was finished before paying for a furnished basement, but I wouldn't be surprised if the seller were insulted by the question. – jejorda2 Aug 8 '18 at 15:29
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    That is a surprisingly finished unfinished basement, I was thinking unpainted bare concrete walls. – Ash Aug 8 '18 at 15:51
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    @Ash - And the Finished Basement is unfortunately well furnished. And the Furnished Basement is unfortunately at ground level. – Nigel Touch Aug 8 '18 at 18:23
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    @NigelTouch It is too, I didn't really look at that one, actually the unfinished basement is in fact worryingly well furnished too, I would think it would be too healthy to stay there for too long. – Ash Aug 8 '18 at 18:25
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    I don't think any of those pictures is a good example. The picture for the finished basement fits better for a furnished basement. The picture for the furnished basement does not even look like a basement, because it has a ground level exit. The picture for the partially finished basement is also partially furnished and does not show very much of the room. We appreciate the effort, but there must be better pictures out there. – Ian Aug 9 '18 at 6:36

A finished basement is one that has proper stud walls and plaster ceilings, possibly also plumbing etc...

A furnished basement should be just that furnished; having a full suite of furniture that defines the space as a functional lounge, workshop, bedroom or what have you.

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    It's rare to buy a house furnished, but the basement being finished adds a lot of value. But suppose you were renting a whole house, furnished, for a short-term stay. The basement might be "finished", but empty, probably of little use to you; or furnished, as a whole 'nother level of the house to use. – CCTO Aug 8 '18 at 19:56
  • @CCTO I'll have to take your word for the value of a basement, we don't, as a rule, have them in houses only large commercial buildings and then mainly only for parking. – Ash Aug 12 '18 at 11:06

I have often regarded this word as an eggcorn, as I have heard it used in both contexts to refer to the same thing. In the Southern United States this seems to be particularly true, as there are fewer basements and thus not as much care is given to terminology with respect to this topic.

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    OK...but which one came first? – Mitch Aug 8 '18 at 20:23

Given that a basement is the lowest habitable part of a building (wholly or partly underground, were it not finished, it wouldn't be habitable, I'd have thought. But an ordinary room in a house above ground level may well be finished, but waiting for furniture, which, when it is installed, makes the room furnished. Without furniture, a room, anywhere, is said to be unfurnished. Therefore, a basement, or any room, can be finished, but unfurnished. If it was furnished, it pretty well has to be assumed that it was a finished room before putting furniture in it.

It is quite possible that an estate agent may massage things, and advertise a finished basement as a furnished basement, or vice versa, to encourage 'good' marketing...