How to Figure Out the Square Footage on a Parcel

Why Measure Square Footage?

Knowing the square footage of your home is important. There are several reasons why you want to measure the square footage, too.

If you are planning to sell your home knowing the square footage is important. First, you want to be able to accurately advertise your home. Secondly, square footage helps justify the price of your home. For example, where I work a lot of people would do a double-take look if a home only had 1,000 square feet but had a list price of $400,000.

Knowing the square footage of your home can help with making improvements, too. When you know the square footage of your home and the individual rooms in your home you will know how much material you need to buy to complete a project.

Lastly, knowing the square footage of your home can help you with a property tax assessment. Cities and counties routinely re-assess homes so they can charge a higher amount of taxes on your property. Knowing your square footage can help you appeal a property tax assessment.

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How to Measure Square Footage of a House

Here is an overview of how to calculate the square footage of a house.

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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.

How to find the square footage of a triangle

  1. Measure the length of the base and the height of the triangle in feet.
  2. Multiply your base and height measurements together.
  3. Divide your total by two to get the square footage of the triangle
 The formula for calculating the square footage ar

The formula for calculating the square footage area of a triangle is: base × height / 2. To work out your cost of materials, simply multiply this figure by your 'price per square foot'.

What Is Included In The Square Footage?

In measuring the square footage of a house, it is crucial to know what can and can’t be included in the calculations. Not every foot of your home enclosed by walls will count towards total square footage. Instead, you are trying to determine the gross living area — or the livable parts of your home. Keep reading to learn more about the specifications for measuring square footage:

Height Requirements

There is one measurement far too many inexperienced “appraisers” forget about: ceiling height. That’s not to say you measure the area as a three-dimensional space, but rather that the ceiling is one of the criteria I already alluded to. You see, for an area’s square footage to count in the home’s overall square footage, the ceiling above it must be a certain height. According to ANSI’s American National Standard For Single-Family Residential Buildings, finished areas must have a ceiling height of at least seven feet, “except under beams, ducts, and other obstructions where the height maybe six feet and four inches.” On the other hand, Angled ceilings must rest at the previously discussed seven feet for at least half of the room’s total floor area. If the ceiling is at least seven feet for at least half of the room’s floor area, total square foot calculations should include every area where the ceiling is at least five feet tall.

Garages, Protrusions, and Unfinished Areas

No matter how much you may wish your garage was included in the total square footage of your house, it’s not. I repeat, garages are not included in the total square footage of a property, even if they are finished — that’s because they are not the same level as the home itself. Similarly, chimneys and window areas are not included in a home’s square footage; not only are they not finished, but they are not on the same level.

Finished Home Connections

If you have a finished area connected to the house by a finished hallway or stairway, the subsequent area may be included in the home’s total square footage. However, finished areas connected in any other way (like by an unfinished hallway or staircase, for instance) won’t be included in the home’s total square footage.

Basements & Attics

Basements do not typically count towards a home’s gross living area regardless of whether they are finished. Since they are below the rest of the home, basements can’t be included in the total square footage. That said, homeowners may note the size of a finished basement in a respective listing elsewhere. On the other hand, attics may be counted in a home’s total square footage if they are finished and meet the height requirements stated above.

Covered, Enclosed Porches

Covered, enclosed porches may be included in a home’s gross living area if they are finished, and they are heated using the same system as the rest of the house.

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 Calculate Square Footage

Square footage is area expressed in square feet. Likewise, square yardage is area expressed in square yards.  Square meters is also a common measure of area.

Assume you have a rectangular area such as a room and, for example, you want to calculate the square footage area for flooring or carpet.

The way to calculate a rectangular area is by measuring the length and width of your area then multiplying those two numbers together to get the area in feet squared (ft2). If you have on oddly shaped area, such as an L-shape, split it into square or rectanglualar sections and treat them as two separate areas. Calculate the area of each section then add them together for your total. If your measurements are in different units, say feet and inches, you can first convert those values to feet, then multiply them together to get the square footage of the area.

Convert all of your measurements to feet

  • If you measured in feet skip to “Calculate the Area as Square Footage”
  • If you measured in feet & inches, divide inches by 12 and add that to your feet measure to get total feet
  • If you measured in another unit of measure, do the following to convert to feet – inches: divide by 12 and that is your measurement in feet – yards: multiply by 3 and that is your measurement in feet – centimeters: multiply by 0.03281 to convert to feet – meters: multiply by 3.281 to convert to feet

Calculate the Area as Square Footage

  • If you are measuring a square or rectangle area, multiply length times width; Length x Width = Area.
  • For other area shapes, see formulas below to calculate Area (ft2) = Square Footage.

Record the Parcel’s Dimensions

Take the dimensions of the parcel from the property records. You’ll need to determine the length of each side of the parcel of land. If there are more than four sides to the parcel of land, segment the land into smaller, four-sided shapes, and then add up the totals of each segment at the end.

Where this information is not available from the plat map or property survey, your best option is to hire a professional surveyor to verify property documents or to determine measurements of property boundaries. Expect to pay anywhere between $575 and $1,200 for boundary survey up to half an acre in San Francisco, reveals Pro Matcher.

What to leave out

A good rule of thumb to ensure you’re taking proper measurements is to exclude space you can’t walk on or live in. These types of spaces do not count as “gross living area.”

“Someone might think, ‘If I get the measurement of my first floor and I have a two-story house, I just multiply that by two,’” Day says. However, if that first floor includes a two-story foyer, you can’t count the non-usable space.

Basements and garages, even if they are finished, don’t generally count toward total square footage. Basements are typically excluded because they are built below grade, meaning below ground level. If your state does allow basements to be included in the total square footage of a home, though, you’ll likely need an ingress and egress, or a safe way to enter and exit the basement to the outside.

Finished attic spaces — with some regulations, including ceiling heights — can count toward the total square footage of your home. If you are planning to sell your home, work with a real estate agent to craft a listing that accurately reflects your property.

Conclusion

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.

How to figure out the square footage

Now that you know what to measure, here’s how to measure. But first, remember the aforementioned ANSI Z765?

For a room to make it in a home’s total square footage, the ceiling must hit a certain height — seven feet or higher or six feet four inches if there are beams or soffits. Plus, no portion of the finished area can have a ceiling height of less than 5 feet.

Let’s say you’ve got a Cape Cod with a sloped ceiling and knee walls. That portion under the sloped ceiling (if it’s five feet or less) is not counted in the square footage (see image). In addition, the rest of the ceiling must hit at least seven feet for at least half of the room’s floor area.

Photo source:

Photo source:

Keep in mind that an appraiser will, hopefully, look around inside the house but will measure the house from the exterior — unless there’s that pesky sloped ceiling situation, in which case they will have to go inside or the square footage will be off.

According to Hamp Thomas, certified residential appraiser and author of “How to Measure a House Using the ANSI Standard,” the pros use a 100-foot tape measure to do their job. Certainly, a shorter tape measure would work. However, there is a lot of stopping, starting and adding that can lead to inaccuracies.

Measure around the outside of the house above the foundation. Multiply the length by the width of each rectangular space. If you’ve got a second story and can’t reach a corner on the exterior, for example, measure from the inside and then add the width of the exterior walls.

What to leave in (and take out of) the square footage

But, of course, it’s not that simple.

Garage space is not included in square footage, and many standards do not count basements (even if they’re finished) in overall square footage. Either way, make sure to measure the basement’s square footage for your records — you can still include it in any future property listings.

Conversely, finished attic space that’s fit for habitation and boasts at least seven feet of clearance should be included in your GLA. The same is true for any additional stories in the house.

For example, suppose you’re describing a two-story home with a 1,500-square-foot first floor, 1,000-square-foot second floor, and 800-square-foot finished attic. You could list it as 3,300 square feet with 1,000 square feet of unfinished basement and a 600-foot garage. But to describe it as a 4,900-square-foot house would mislead potential buyers about the size, and unfairly boost the property’s value.

Summary

Those that know how to find the square footage of a house carry an inherent advantage in every deal they work on. Of particular importance, however, is accuracy. Those who can accurately learn how to calculate square footage of a house stand a better chance of realizing success. At the very least, they will know exactly what they are getting into (or out of).

Have you ever run into questionable home measurement calculations? Would it have helped if you knew the standards used today? Please feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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