How to Accurately Calculate the Square Feet of a Home

Whether you’re buying a new home or selling your current one, it’s vital to know how to accurately calculate the square footage of a home. You can’t just take someone else’s word, you need to double check and ensure the house measurements of what you’re buying or selling is accurate. Read on to find out the ins and outs of home square footage.


All About Home Square Footage

If you were to just measure your bedroom or living room, that would be pretty easy. But, when it comes to measuring a whole house, it can be a bit confusing. A good thing to keep in mind is your house is made up of rooms, and each room has its own measurement.


As a homeowner, a good place to start is to draw an accurate diagram of your home on a piece of paper. If a room has an outcropping, measure that separately. Once you’ve gone through your entire house and are confident your measurements are correct, add everything up.


Using this method is a bit different than how an appraiser measures. When an appraiser calculates the measurements, in most cases they start with the outside exterior measurements. Once they get the basic square footage number, they begin deducting.


What’s Included in The Square Footage of a House?

There are certain things that count and don’t count in square footage.


Things That DON’T Count in Home Square Footage

Here are a few areas that usually do not count:

  • Below grade or underground basements or rooms
  • Attic rooms with low ceilings
  • Unpermitted and unfinished rooms or additions
  • Loft rooms with ladder only access
  • Attached garages (the shared wall will act as the outside wall)
  • Any completely separate areas from the house like detached garages, pool houses, guesthouses


You also cannot count any rooms that require you that you leave the finished area of the main house to gain access. Remember, when listing your home for sale, you can mention these uncountable areas as “bonus rooms” as long as you don’t figure it in the square footage.


Things That DO Count in Home Square Footage

Make sure you include these areas:

  • Hallways
  • Closets
  • Finished attic rooms if the ceiling is high enough
  • Finished above ground basements if the ceiling is high enough
  • Upstairs rooms with stair access from the main home                                                                   

When in doubt, check the local tax records, many of which can be found online now. Tax records are a good place to see if permits were pulled on any additions. No permit? Can’t count the room. High-quality homes are always permitted for everything.


When buying a house, take the square footage calculation in marketing materials with a grain of salt. Make sure you don’t overpay for a property that doesn’t really have as much square footage as you thought it did.


If you’re buying a new construction home, it’s much easier because you can get a set of floor plans that show the dimension of each room along with the overall measurements.


Similar to appraisers, many architects measure around the exterior walls to get their measurement. Although that does give you a base number, it doesn’t account for the areas that should be deducted. Since builders, appraisers, real estate agents, and homeowners measure differently there can be discrepancies.


Take Your Own Home Measurements

As a homeowner, you can and should make your own estimate. But, when it’s time to sell it’s vital to hire a professional who knows what they’re doing. Often you can find someone by calling your local building department or association of realtors.


Once you get all of your numbers together, you can always go to the County Tax Assessor’s office and ask since taxes are most often calculated by square footage.


Lastly, just because an area can’t be counted for one reason or another, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t add value. Remember that when buying or selling.


We hope this information about how to accurately measure the square footage of a home has been useful. Remember, the value of the home is not only measured by its size, but by how well the space is used. At Pulte, we believe in creating spaces that have More Life Built In® through our innovative designs and floorplans. Find your new home today.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Carol Youmans.

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 6.5.19

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