Not every space in your home is counted towards the overall square footage. From an appraisal perspective, there are certain areas that are ignored when calculating the overall size of the home. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) offers a standard for appraisers to measure single-family homes.
Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s important to understand how the square footage of a home is determined and which spaces in a home are not counted.
What is Included?
Before we go into what is not included in a home’s square footage, it’s helpful to understand what is. Basically, the square footage of a home is based on all interior spaces that are heated and/or cooled. This includes bedrooms, bathrooms, the kitchen, living rooms, closets, entryways, and utility rooms. Any additions to the home will also be included, as long as they have been constructed with an equal finish to the original structure and have a comparable heating and cooling system installed.
What is Not Included?
While the above-mentioned spaces are included in the measurement of a home’s square footage, the following are not.
These spaces are not included in the calculation of a home’s size, unless they are finished and conform to the original finishes and systems of the rest of the home. You can’t just throw in an area rug and plug in a fan and call it an additional living space.
More specifically, at least half of the finished square footage of the attic needs to be at least 7 feet where the ceiling slopes. Any finished areas less than 5 feet aren’t included in the home’s finished area.
Enclosed porches are great for extending the living space of a home, and can certainly add a great deal of value to a property. However, they don’t contribute to the home’s square footage. The only way that an appraiser will count this space is if the quality of its construction closely matches that of the main residence, is equipped with a relevant HVAC system, and is considered suitable for year-round occupancy.
Whether you use your garage to park your vehicle, as storage space, or as a work area, it isn’t including in the overall size of your home. The only time it will be counted is if it has been completely converted into a living space that’s totally finished and has the appropriate systems installed.
What about apartment spaces over the garage? Maybe you have an adult child still living at home or in-laws that have moved in, and want to give them their own private, separate living quarters. However, this space may not be given full consideration in an appraisal – even if it’s finished – unless the appropriate access has been given to it.
Just like your garage, your shed won’t be calculated in your home’s overall square footage. In essence, any detached living spaces on your property are excluded unless they meet the criteria for a year-round living space.
Even if a space is part of your home’s overall structure, it won’t be included if it is unfinished and therefore not suitable for year-round occupancy. This applies regardless of what level the area happens to be on.
The Bottom Line
If you’re listing your home for sale, you’ll want to give full credit to the size of your home on your listing. However, you need to be honest and accurate about this number before advertising it. If you’re buying a home, you’ll want to know exactly how much square footage you’re paying for. An appraisal will typically be done if you’re taking out a mortgage, which will provide you with insight on the exact square footage of the home you’re buying.
Either way, understanding how a home’s square footage is calculated and what’s included and not included is important during the buying and selling process.