How To Measure The Square Footage Of A Home

Dated: 02/10/2014

Views: 399

I’m sure your first thought when you read the title was “how hard is to multiply length times width?” Well, depending on if you are an appraiser, city or county tax assessor, builder, Realtor or home seller the actual square footage could be quite different. 

Here are the most common mistakes I see:
Living area square footage: This is generally just the top two levels of a single family home or townhouse. I’ve seen people add garages, porches, attics spaces, etc. These are not “living” areas and should not normally be added to the square footage.
Finished footage: Normally this is in reference to a basement or a finished part of a house that would not normally be finished. This is normally not added to living square footage but included in the “total finished” footage. On most Fairfax or Loudoun county tax records it specifically addresses “finished” and “unfinished” square footage. Unfinished square footage: This number is not included in the overall living square footage but can be included in the gross square footage. I’ve sometimes seen garages added to this number as well.
Gross square footage: appraisers use this to assess the entire footprint of the house. This usually is the hardest figure to fudge since it’s basically the length times width calculation of the outside of the house (minus wall thickness). Seems pretty straight forward, right? So, why do so many people go wrong?
Here are some final words of advice if you need to calculate a home’s square footage.   When buying a home keep an open mind when you see total square footage advertised. I train many local Realtors to take measurements of each room and to get a floor plan when possible for marketing. Never take the word of anyone as Gospel when it comes to square footage. Just assume that everyone is guesstimating. Especially those that have the most to gain!  
 Happy adding;0)!   Chuck
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Chuck Rifae

Chuck Rifae has been a leading Northern Virginia Realtor since 2002. Chuck holds the advanced designation of Broker of Real Estate for both Maryland and Virginia. When Chuck is not working with buyer....

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