Calculating Square Footage: Size Matters

Calculating Square Footage: Size Matters

Square footage does not hold an established standard for measurement.  When it comes to real estate, size matters, therefore it is imperative to have an accurate determination of square footage before buying or selling a home as the property value could be affected.  

Related: “4 Tips for Long Distance House Hunting”

Most house hunters and sellers zero in on the floor space of a home when they hear “square footage”.  This is also known as “gross floor area”.  

The Aitken Home Team presents four steps to measuring your home’s square footage:

1. –  Draw your floor plan on paper.  It doesn’t have to be a Picasso-quality sketch – just a rough drawing that you can reference when you post your measurements.  Be sure to sketch the floors of your home separately and eliminate any unfinished areas, patios, porches, or exterior staircases.  

2. – Draw the home by using measurable rectangles – the more, the better.  This will serve to eliminate any guesswork when it comes to calculating rooms with uneven walls or hallways.  

3. – Write down the length and width of each rectangle, rounding off to the nearest 0.5 linear feet.

4. – Now calculate the area of each section by multiplying the length times the width in order to obtain the area’s square footage.  

5. –  Add up the total and sum up add up the square footage of each individual rectangle to properly calculate your home’s total square footage and be sure to round up to the nearest square foot.  

Narrowing down:

Unfortunately, most things are rarely as simple as they seem.  Square footage should not include your garage, and some states do not allow for the inclusion of basements, finished or not, depending on certain stipulations such as an egress, fire exit, etc.  Check with a licensed state contractor to better understand basement rules.  You will still want to calculate your basement’s square footage, though.  

You might be surprised to learn that your attic can be included in your square footage if it is finished, prepared for habitation, and boasts a minimum of seven feet of clearance. This is also the case if you have any additional stories in the house.  

Handling measurement discrepancies:

Square footage is the most vital piece of an accurate home appraisal and discrepancies, such as the inclusion of a garage, can cause inaccuracies.  In fact, architects and appraisers often calculate the square footage by using exterior walls, which may conflict with a property’s true square footage.  It is important to be transparent when selling and diligent when buying.  If you claim your home to be 3,000 square feet based on the builder’s floor plan, and an appraiser says it is only 2,600, be prepared to reduce your sale price.  When buying a home, be sure to do your due diligence by getting an accurate measurement of the home in order to ensure you are not overpaying.


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Phil Aitken, Owner/Broker
Phil Aitken is the Owner/Broker with Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty - Phil Aitken Home Team and has over 13 years of Real Estate experience. Phil’s faith and desire for his family’s continued security fuel his business growth and leadership. The Phil Aitken Home Team continues to profoundly impact the people of Jacksonville via supporting several faith-based organizations. Phil gives back a portion of every real estate transaction to The Tim Tebow Foundation and Rethreaded. Find Phil's full story here.