How the Square Footage of a Home is Calculated

How the Square Footage of a Home is CalculatedThe square footage, or size of a home is important in both buying and selling a home. It helps sellers to more accurately come up with a fair market value to list their home for sale, and it helps buyers to find a property with enough space to live their next stage of life.

Just how is the square footage of a home calculated? Some people may be surprised to find out that it is more than just simple multiplication and measurements and that not all square feet are considered equal when it comes to home sales.

Here is how square footage is calculated in a home.


Although there are many guidelines to help unify how square footage is calculated on a property, there is no one hard and fast rule for actually calculating it. There is no legally binding parameters. Things are subject to individual interpretations and gray areas which can lead to varying ending measurements for the same property. For example an appraiser can come through and report different square footage than is written in an online listing.

Start with Exterior Measurements

Most housing professionals begin their square footage measurements from the outside of the home. If your home exterior is easy to access you can do this with a long measuring tape (100 ft tape is suggested) and a sketch of the outside walls of the home. Draw up the home and then label each wall with a measurement. Measurements should be rounded to the nearest half foot. Now you can calculate the area with a simple length x width = area equation for rectangles. If there are triangular areas you can use the equation to find the area of a triangle base x height x 0.5 = area. When you have all of the measurements you can add them up to get the total square footage. Make sure you have not included the back deck.

More to Consider

  • Beyond just taking the measurements around the outside of your home, other factors will need to be considered.
  • Basements are not included in area footage. They are noted separately. Unless the basement is finished and used as a living area, bedroom, etc.
  • An attic is only included in square footage if it is accessible from inside the home, has at least 84 inch high ceilings, and finished as the rest of the interior of the home.
  • Garages are not included unless converted into a bedroom or office
  • Condo square footage is calculated with interior measurements
  • Upper Floors

The upper floors, of course, need to be considered in the square footage measurements. Spaces open to lower floors are not included. Because of this, a second-floor measurement may need to be taken from the inside of the home.

The Best Way to Calculate Square Footage is By a Pro

It can be difficult to calculate the area correctly on your home yourself. The best way to calculate the square footage of your home is to leave it to a professional. In many cases, your real estate agent can help to find the most accurate square footage by looking up records for the home.

For more information on buying or selling homes in Washington City or surrounding areas please contact us any time.

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