Content of the material
- Why Measure Square Footage?
- What Is Included in the Square Footage of a House?
- Do Closets Count as Square Footage?
- Top Articles
- How To Figure Square Feet For Your Home
- What is included in square footage of a house?
- Finding the square footage of your home
- Finished Vs. Unfinished Square Footage
- Above Grade Square Footage vs. Below Grade Square Footage
- Convert among square inch, square foot, square yard and square meter
- How many square feet is a 20×20 room?
- How to Measure Square Footage of a House
- Ask The Pros
- Discrepancies in measurement
Why Measure Square Footage?
Homeowners should measure square footage to get an accurate assessment of their property’s size. The most obvious reason homeowners will need this information is for a property value estimation when they sell their house. The square footage will directly influence the purchase price, and it could make a big difference when marketing the property.
Even if you are not selling your home, it can still be helpful to measure square footage. Some cities will require homeowners to disclose this information when applying for renovation or building permits. Square footage can also be helpful in the event your property value assessment comes out too high. In these cases, homeowners will want to accurately re-measure their homes’ square footage to get their property taxes lowered.
[ Want to maximize your property value? Download this step-by-step guide to making “high-ROI” home improvements. ]
What Is Included in the Square Footage of a House?
Only usable space is included in your home’s square footage. Typically, usable space is defined as areas in your home that:
- Share the same heating and cooling system as the main house.
- Are located above ground.
- Conform to your home’s architectural standard.
- Are finished and adjoining.
Looking at it that way, it’s pretty clear that rooms like your kitchen, living room, bathrooms, and bedrooms are part of your square footage﹘as long as you don’t have to pass through unfinished spaces to reach them. The same goes for hallways, stairways, and closets. Enclosed patios may be included if they have four walls and a roof and use the same heating as the rest of your home.
A finished attic can also be part of your square footage, but like enclosed patios, it usually has to share your home’s heating and cooling system. Plus, it may need a certain amount of headroom to count.
Garage and basements aren’t usually included in the square footage of a house. This is often true even if the basement is finished because it’s below ground level. However, some states do allow you to include finished basements when they have safe ways to enter and exit. Detached structures such as sheds are also generally excluded from the calculations.
Do Closets Count as Square Footage?
Closet areas are included in the square footage of a home, but only when they are in the main home. Closets in areas that aren’t considered usable space, like basements, aren’t included. When you calculate the square footage of a house, treat each individual closet as if it were a room and add it to your total.
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How To Figure Square Feet For Your Home
Calculating the square footage of a home is relatively easy. To measure square feet, you just have to take it one room or space at a time. Measure the length, measure the width, multiply these two and you have the square footage of a space. For example, let’s say a bedroom in your home is 12 feet wide by 14 feet long. 12 X 14 = 168, so that bedroom has 168 square feet.
With one extra step you can easily measure square footage for odd sized rooms that do not end on a specific foot measurement. Let me show you how by slightly adjusting the example I used above.
Let’s say that bedroom is 12 feet 9 inches wide (or 153 inches) and 14 feet 9 inches long (or 177 inches). Notice what I did here. Ignore the foot measurement on your measuring tape all together. Instead, only look at the total inches for length and width. Here is the math with the extra step:
- Divide each inch total by 12 (153 divided by 12 is 12.75 and 177 divided by 12 is 14.75)
- Multiply the two numbers (12.75 x 14.75)
- Answer: 188, the room is 188 square feet
What is included in square footage of a house?
The easiest way to calculate square footage is to measure all areas and rooms with a floor. If you can walk on it it counts. Square footage includes all of the spaces in your that is actual space. Your square footage total should include:
- Bedrooms and the closets
- Living or recreation rooms
- Enclosed 3-season or all-season rooms
- Unfinished spaces like a basement
Garages, outdoor areas, and unfinished attics do not count as square footage.
Finding the square footage of your home
To determine the square footage of you need some basic tools and to follow a few steps. The tools needed include:
- Measuring tape
Follow these steps to accurately measure the square footage in your home:
- Measure every space except the garage, the crawl space, and the attic if it is not finished.
- Measure at the floor.
- Squaring off spaces is often the most practical way to capture all of the square feet.
- Multiply the length and the width of each space you measured.
- As you measure each space label each space as finished or unfinished and whether it is above grade or below grade
If you are shopping for a home to purchase, the square footage number you see in the listing or online is most likely the total finished square footage. However, it is important to know how much unfinished square feet is present and how much square footage is above grade or below grade. Each of these affect a home’s value.
Finished Vs. Unfinished Square Footage
Many people are confused about are basements included in square footage. The answer is yes, basements are included in square footage. However, that square footage should be further classified as finished or unfinished.
Finished square footage is most often defined as a space where the walls, ceiling, and floor are all covered. What does that mean? For walls, it is covered when you cannot see the wall framing. The skeletal structure, electrical and pipes are covered with some other material such as drywall, panelling, or plaster. For a ceiling, this is the same as with walls, you cannot see the skeletal structure because it is covered with some other material.
As for the floor, if you are above the ground, the base material is usually subfloor also known as oriented strand board (OSB). It looks like plywood. If you are in the basement or the home is a ranch on a slab, the base material is likely concrete. To be finished square footage, you should not be standing directly on that material. Instead, there should be some type of floor covering over the concrete or OSB like carpet, hardwood flooring, or tile, or flooring laminate.
When measuring your home to determine its square footage make sure you put each amount of square footage for each room or space into the finished or unfinished column.
Above Grade Square Footage vs. Below Grade Square Footage
Above grade square footage is square footage above the gradient line. The gradient line is where the earth meets the home. Square footage on the main floor and all floors above will almost always be above grade. This only gets a little tricky when the home is a bi-level, tri-level, quad-level, or hillside ranch.
These home models may have a basement, but the lowest level may be called the lower level. This happens because a level of the home is partly under the gradient line but also partly above it. Most areas consider a level like this to be the lower level and mark it as above grade square footage. Check with your local municipality, contractor, or a real estate agent for a certain answer to this question.
Convert among square inch, square foot, square yard and square meter
You could, for example, perform all of your measurements in inches or centimeters, calculate area in square inches or square centimeters then convert your final answer to the unit you need such as square feet or square meters.
To convert among square feet, yards and meters use the following conversion factors. For other units use our calculator for area conversions.
- Square Feet to Square Inches
- multiply ft2 by 144 to get in2
- Square Feet to Square Yards
- multiply ft2 by 0.11111 to get yd2
- Square Feet to Square Meters
- multiply ft2 by 0.092903 to get m2
- Square Yards to Square Feet
- multiply yd2 by 9 to get ft2
- Square Yards to Square Meters
- multiply yd2 by 0.836127 to get m2
- Square Meters to Square Inches
- multiply m2 by 1,550 to get in2
- Square Meters to Square Feet
- multiply m2 by 10.7639 to get ft2
- Square Meters to Square Yards
- multiply m2 by 1.19599 to get yd2
How many square feet is a 20×20 room?
The square footage of a room measuring 20 feet wide by 20 feet long is 400 square feet. To calculate this you simply multiply the width by the height. 20ft × 20ft = 400 sq ft.
How to Measure Square Footage of a House
Here is an overview of how to calculate the square footage of a house.
- 1. Assemble your supplies. Bring a calculator, a tape or laser measure, a pen, and a notebook when you plan to measure the square footage of a space. You can draw out the floor plan with the notebook, measure the space with your tape measure, and add up your measurements with the calculator.
- 2. Measure the separate areas of the house. Go through your house and measure the dimensions of each room one at a time. Measure a room’s length and width along the walls of each room in feet and note the metrics in your notebook.
- 3. Calculate the square footage of each room. If you’re working with square or rectangular rooms, you can simply multiply the length of each room by its width to calculate the square footage. For irregular rooms, divide the space into geometric shapes, use the applicable formula, and add up the square footage. To measure the square footage of a triangular space, multiply its base by its height and divide that number by two. To calculate the square footage of a circular space, measure the circle's radius (the distance from the center point to the circle's edge), multiply that number by itself and then multiply the new number by pi (3.14).
- 4. Add up the square footages of each room. Once you have the measurements of each room, add them all together to get your overall square footage. You can make the calculations yourself or use an online square footage calculator.
Ask The Pros
Learning how to calculate the square feet of a house can be a challenging task. Thankfully, there are experts to help you. It is common practice to hire a professional appraiser to accurately measure your home. Depending on the property’s size, the cost of an appraiser to measure the square footage can range from $100 to several hundred dollars. When an appraiser calculates the square feet of a house, they also only include areas that are heated and cooled. While two different appraisers will sometimes have different measurements on square footage, there is usually only a 1-3% variance. Appraisers will do their best to calculate square footage with scientific accuracy.
Knowing how to calculate square feet of houses is beneficial to you. Knowing how to do this will help you when it comes time to sell your home, plan for projects, and appeal a property tax assessment.
All interior parts of your home are included so long as there is a floor you can walk on. Parts of your home that do not count are garages, unenclosed outdoor areas, accessory structures, crawl spaces, or unfinished attics. Make sure to classify each portion of square footage as finished or unfinished, too.
You can find the square footage of a house by measuring each room. Think in squares and rectangles to make measuring easier. There is nothing wrong with measuring a living room with a bump out as two pieces to make it easier. Figuring square feet is easier with some basic tools you likely already have, too. Now, you are ready to find the square footage of your home.
Discrepancies in measurement
Because square footage is so vital in appraising a home, it’s important to pay close attention to what is being measured.
Some sellers may include an unfinished basement in their square footage, giving you an inaccurate picture of the livable portion of the home.
And architects and appraisers often calculate square footage by using exterior walls, which may conflict with a property’s GLA figure.
Regardless of how you measure your square footage, be transparent when selling, and diligent when buying.
If you claim that your home is 2,000 square feet based on your builder’s floor plans, and a buyer’s appraiser brings back a figure of 1,600, you could lose the sale or need to lower your price.
Similarly, as a buyer, make sure to do your research and get an independent square footage to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.
Find and claim your home on Zillow to see its recorded square footage and to make edits as needed.
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Originally published June 23, 2015.