How to Measure a House’s Square Footage

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) developed a standard for measuring house square feet, but it is just that: a standard. ANSI requirements are just guidelines; no official laws regulate the true regulation of a home’s gross living space, for better or worse (GLA). As a result, as homeowners attempt the procedure, problems occur time after time. Learning how to measure a house’s square footage can seem more complex than many people would like.

Fortunately, there is a way to ensure that your requirements are correct, and learning it is in your best interests. Knowing how to measure square footage in a house will help you avoid making costly mistakes.

What Is the Intention of Measuring Square Footage?

To get an accurate estimate of the size of their house, homeowners can calculate square footage. The most obvious explanation why homeowners would need this knowledge is to estimate the value of their home when they sell it. The square footage would have a direct impact on the purchase price, and it will make a significant difference on how the property is marketed.

Even if you aren’t planning on selling your house, calculating square footage may be useful. When applying for renovation or construction permits in some cities, homeowners may be required to reveal this information. In the event that your property value assessment is too high, square footage may be useful. In these cases, homeowners may need to re-measure the square footage of their homes to lower their property taxes.

how do i calculate square feet

How to Measure a House’s Square Feet

To find out how many square feet a house has, you’ll need to measure the area of each room separately and then add it all together. Before you begin, gather a few items, such as a tape measure, a notepad, and a calculator. Then, take measurements of each room’s length and width. Multiplying the length and width gives you the room’s area, which you can write down before continuing with your final calculations. And, in more measurable rectangles, attack hallways and other living spaces. Attach the area of each livable room when you’re done.

As an example, imagine you live in a rectangle-shaped ranch house. The house has a length of 70 feet and a width of 50 feet. This means that to measure the square footage, you’ll multiply 70 by 50, yielding a total of 3,500 square feet. Of course, not every house is a perfect rectangle, making precise measurements more time consuming. As a result, moving room by room is frequently the most realistic approach. You can still determine the square footage of your home with the right measurements and some addition.

What Is Involved In The Square Footage Calculation?

When calculating a house’s square footage, it’s important to understand what can and can’t be included in the calculations. The overall square footage of your home will not include any square foot enclosed by walls. Instead, you’re attempting to assess your home’s gross living space, or the livable areas. Continue reading to learn more about the square footage measurement specifications:

Specifications for Height

Ceiling height is one measurement that many too many novice “appraisers” overlook. That isn’t to suggest you can calculate the room as a three-dimensional space, but the ceiling is one of the criteria I mentioned earlier. Since the ceiling above an area must be a certain height for its square footage to count against the home’s total square footage, it must be a certain height. Finished areas must have a ceiling height of at least seven feet, according to ANSI’s American National Standard For Single-Family Residential Buildings, “except under beams, ducts, and other obstructions where the height may be six feet and four inches.” Angled ceilings, on the other hand, must be at least seven feet tall for at least half of the room’s total floor space. Complete square foot measurements should include any area where the ceiling is at least five feet tall if the ceiling is at least seven feet tall for at least half of the room’s floor area.

Garages, protrusions, and unfinished areas are all examples of garages.

Regardless of how much you wish it is, your garage is not included in the total square footage of your home. Garages, even though they are done, are not counted in the overall square footage of a property because they are not on the same floor as the building. Chimneys and window areas, likewise, are not counted in a home’s square footage because they are not only unfinished, but also not on the same floor.

Home Connections that are Completed

If a finished area is linked to the house by a finished hallway or stairwell, the next area will be included in the total square footage of the house. Finished areas linked in any other way (for example, by an unfinished hallway or staircase) would not be included in the overall square footage of the house.

Attics & Basements

Basements do not usually count against a home’s gross living space, regardless of whether they are done. Basements can’t be counted in the overall square footage because they’re below the rest of the house. Homeowners can, however, specify the size of a finished basement in a separate listing. Attics, on the other hand, may be included in a home’s total square footage if they are completed and meet the above-mentioned height specifications.

Enclosed, covered porches

If they are finished and heated with the same system as the rest of the house, covered, enclosed porches can be included in a home’s gross living area.

square feet of a house

How to Calculate a House’s Square Footage: Often Asked Questions

Because of misinformation and a lack of well-known rules, there is a lot of uncertainty concerning a home’s square footage. Having said that, if anything is vague, chances are someone else has wondered the same thing. The following are some often asked questions about how to calculate a house’s square footage.

Unfinished vs. Completed

In general, unfinished areas of a house should not be included in the total square footage. The region must be completed in order to be included. Unfinished bonus spaces, such as basements, can be classified as unfinished bonus spaces as long as they are not included in the total finished square footage estimate.

Are basements considered as part of a home’s square footage?

Many heated discussions about a home’s square footage have focused on the basement. The conclusion is, at the very least, yes and no. According to ANSI, basements, whether completed or unfinished, should not be included in a home’s total square footage. However, homeowners are free to mention the size of their finished basement in a separate section of the listing (as opposed to the home’s total gross living area). Although current guidelines advise against including a finished basement’s square footage in the home’s GLA, there’s no reason you can’t include its actual size elsewhere in the listing.

Is the garage included in the house square footage?

A home’s gross living area does not include the garage, whether it is completed or not. “Garages and unfinished areas cannot be included in the measurement of finished square footage,” according to ANSI. Most garages don’t count against a home’s square footage since they aren’t on the same floor as the rest of the house; they’re generally lower.

What is the average square footage of a home?

The average home is 2,400 square feet in size. The average square footage in 2017 was 2,426 square feet, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 1973, however, the average square footage was 1,660. Over the years, the number has gradually risen, reflecting Americans’ need for more space and larger homes.

What Is A 12 X 12 Room’s Square Footage?

The area of a 12 x 12 space is 144 square feet. Simply put, square feet are measured by dividing a room’s width by its length. The total square feet of a house is then calculated by adding all of the rooms together. With add-ons and other features that take up space in rooms, things can get complicated. Breaking each room into squares is a good way to solve any structural issues. Look for where the walls intersect and split the room in a way that makes measuring square footage simpler. Then, to get a more precise total, add up the smaller numbers.

Do Closets Factor Into Square Footage Calculations?

Closets do count against square footage as long as they follow the same standards as the rest of the building. This ensures that as long as closets are completed and meet the above-mentioned ceiling height specifications, they can count against total square feet. Stairways, which are another grey field for measuring house square footage, may be treated in the same way.

Living Area vs. Total Area

The total area refers to all of the space in a home, while the living area only refers to rooms that use the main heating and air system. The term “living space” is simply a synonym for “square foot.” Complete field, on the other hand, would include garages, basements, balconies, and all other spaces that are part of the same building. Both measurements are commonly given in a property listing or during an open house.

What Is the Concept of Livable Square Footage?

Any room or area in a property that uses the main heating and air system is considered livable square footage. Bedrooms, toilets, closets, and other areas are included. Depending on the state, the exact definition of livable square feet can vary. However, in general, livable square footage refers to a property’s accessible, heated areas. Keep this in mind when you measure the square footage of your home, and if you’re uncertain about your measurements, contact a realtor or appraiser.

how to measure square footage of a house

Inquire of the Experts

It can be difficult to figure out how to measure a house’s square footage. Thankfully, there are professionals who can assist you. Hiring a licensed appraiser to accurately assess your home is good practice. An appraiser’s fee to calculate square footage will vary from $100 to several hundred dollars, depending on the size of the house. When an appraiser measures the square footage of a home, they just include heated and cooled areas. Although two appraisers can have slightly different square footage measurements, the difference is normally only 1-3 percent. Appraisers will make every attempt to measure square footage with precision.

In conclusion

Those who know how to measure a house’s square footage have an intrinsic advantage in any contract they work on. Accuracy, on the other hand, is crucial. Those who can reliably learn how to measure a house’s square feet have a higher chance of succeeding. At the very least, they’ll be aware of what they’re getting themselves into (or out of).

Have you ever come across some dubious home measurement calculations? Would it have helped if you had known the current standards? Please let us know in the comments section below.