Determining the square footage of a house is crucial when evaluating its value or livable space. However, varying standards and interpretations can sometimes make measuring square footage challenging. In this blog, we'll explore guidelines for measuring the square footage of a house and help you understand this critical measurement.
Finding Your Home’s Square Footage
You can take a few approaches to determine the square footage of your home. First, review the paperwork from when you purchased the house, as it often includes the details of the square footage. You can also contact a real estate agent for an updated estimate, especially if you've made any additions or modifications to the property.
What’s Included in a Home’s Square Footage?
The square footage of a house encompasses the interior living space and typically comprises the following areas:
1. Main Living Spaces
These areas constitute most of a home's square footage and include the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, dining room, family room, and home office. These spaces are essential for daily living and provide functionality and comfort.
2. Storage Spaces
Are closets included in square footage? Yes! Square footage commonly includes built-in closets, storage rooms, and utility areas like laundry rooms or dedicated storage closets. These spaces contribute to the overall livability and functionality of the house.
Square footage calculations typically include interior hallways, corridors, and passages connecting different rooms and areas within the house. These areas facilitate movement and accessibility throughout the home.
While square footage generally includes the above elements, remember that some factors may influence the inclusion or exclusion of specific spaces. For example, local building codes, appraisal practices, and regional standards may exclude attached areas like garages, enclosed porches, or sunrooms.
Does a Garage Count as Square Footage?
Does square footage include a garage? The square footage of a house usually does not include the garage. Garages are considered separate from the main living space and are often evaluated and appraised differently. However, this may vary depending on local practices. Some regions may consider a portion or all of the garage's square footage in the overall measurement.
Demystifying Square Footage
Both homeowners and prospective buyers should understand what is included in the square footage of a house. The square footage typically encompasses the house's interior's primary living spaces, storage areas, and hallways. While the garage generally does not count toward the square footage, local standards and practices may vary. By clearly understanding what constitutes the square footage, homeowners and buyers can make more informed decisions when evaluating properties.
Square Footage Gray Areas
Determining a home's square footage can be challenging, especially when spaces fall into gray areas. These areas are neither indoor nor outdoor and may or may not be included in a home's living space. Homeowners may have difficulty calculating some of these common gray areas:
1. Finished Basements
Finished basements may or may not be considered livable, depending on the region. In some areas, a finished basement entirely below grade may not count as part of a home's square footage. Finished basements are generally not included in the primary square footage of a home.
2. Enclosed Porches
Screened-in or enclosed porches are another square footage gray area. If the porch is not temperature-controlled and has no heat source, it may not be considered livable space and, therefore, not count towards a home's total square footage. Enclosed porches must meet specific criteria to count toward square footage.
Like basements, attics can also be a square footage gray area. If the attic is finished, heated, and properly ventilated, it may count toward the home's total square footage. However, an unfinished attic used only for storage would not count. Finished attics with proper permits and code compliance can contribute to the overall square footage.
4. Staircases and Hallways
Staircases and hallways count towards a home's square footage but are often tricky to measure due to their irregular shapes. A seasoned appraiser can help accurately account for these spaces in the square footage calculation. Hallways and staircases are typically included when measuring the square footage of a house.
How Much Value Does Adding Square Footage Yield?
The value added by increasing a home's square footage can vary depending on the location and the market. Adding square footage to a house generally increases its value. Still, the actual return on investment may differ based on factors such as the region, the quality of the addition, and the overall demand for larger homes in the area. Consider the cost of adding square footage and weigh it against the potential increase in property value. Consult with a real estate agent or an appraiser to assess the potential value of adding square footage to your property.
How Is Square Footage Measured?
Measuring square footage is typically done by calculating the area of a room or space. The most straightforward method is to measure the length and width of a room and multiply these dimensions to obtain the square footage. However, complications can arise when dealing with odd-shaped spaces, such as rooms with alcoves or irregular floor plans. In these cases, break up the space into smaller, more manageable shapes, calculate their areas separately, then add them together. Consult a professional appraiser or rely on established measurement standards in your region to accurately measure your square footage.
Finished Basements and Attics Do Not Add to the Primary Square Footage
Finished basements and attics typically do not add to the primary square footage of a house. Below-grade living spaces, such as basements, are generally less valued than above-grade living spaces. While finished basements and attics can provide additional functional areas, real estate appraisals often value them as secondary living spaces. The primary square footage of a house typically refers to the main level and above-grade living areas.
Evaluating a property's value starts with accurately determining its square footage. Homeowners can measure their property by understanding what elements square footage typically includes.
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