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How to Calculate the Square Footage

How to Calculate the Square Footage


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It seems like calculating the square footage of your house should be fairly easy. Simply perform the necessary calculations in order to get the job done.

However, that is not the way it works. There is not one single established way to measure a house. Because of this, there can often be discrepancies between parties when trying to determine the actual size of a house.

The size of your home is one important aspect to calculating the value of your property, so you want to make sure that you are using the right measurements.

Here is what you need to know when calculating your home’s square footage.

The Gross Living Area

When most people are talking about “square footage” they are talking about the gross living area of the house. The process of calculating this is fairly simple.

Draw a sketch of your house. Separate the rooms and spaces into rectangles. Exclude all unfinished areas, such as an unfinished basement or patio. Then on each rectangle multiply the length by the width. When you have completed all the rectangles, add all of the numbers together. This is the total square footage of your house.

What Can Be Included?

Unfortunately, nothing in the real estate process can be that simple. There are some areas that do not count towards your total square footage. Many times finished basements are not allowed to be included in the total square footage, as well as finished attics.

There are very specific guidelines that they must follow to be included. If they do not meet these guidelines it is misleading to include the space into the total square footage of the house.

However, you can include in the listing that there is X amount of finished basement space and X amount of finished attic space.

Why the Numbers Might Not Match

Even with all the careful calculations you could still run into problems with your numbers coming out correct. When appraisers calculate the total square footage of a house they will typically use the measurements from the outside of the house, on the exterior walls. This type of calculation results in additional square footage.

Since there are several different ways that the footage can be calculated it is important that you disclose the correct information. Using the word “approximately” before the square footage in your listing can help to cover you, because you do not want to make any false claims that you are held responsible for.

But you also want to make sure you know how the appraiser is calculating the square footage. If your measurements are higher than the appraisers there is a chance that the house could not appraise for enough for the buyer to obtain a mortgage.

Calculating square footage might seem like a simple process. However, it is one that you need to carefully make sure that you are handling the correctly. You do not want to appear as if you are trying to mislead the buyer with the square footage that you include in your listing.

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