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Measuring Structures

When reporting square footage, real estate agents should carefully follow these Guidelines or any other standards comparable to them, including those approved by the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI).

Living Area Criteria

Living area (sometimes referred to as “heated living area” or “heated square footage”) is space that is intended for human occupancy and is:

  1. Heated by a conventional heating system or systems (forced air, radiant, solar, etc.) that are permanently installed in the dwelling (not a portable heater) which generates heat sufficient to make the space suitable for year-round occupancy;
  1. Finished, with walls, floors, and ceilings of materials generally accepted for interior construction (e.g., painted drywall/sheetrock or paneled walls, carpeted or hardwood flooring, etc.) and with a ceiling height of at least seven feet, except under beams, ducts, etc. where the height must be at least six feet four inches [Note: In rooms with sloped ceilings (e.g., finished attics, bonus rooms, etc.) you may also include as the living area the portion of the room with a ceiling height of at least five feet if at least one-half of the finished area of the room has a ceiling height of at least seven feet.]; and
  1. Directly accessible from other living areas (through a door or by a heated hallway or stairway). Real estate appraisers and lenders generally adhere to more detailed criteria in arriving at the living area or “gross living area” of residential dwellings. This normally includes distinguishing “above-grade” from “below-grade” area, which is also required by many multiple listing services.

Real estate agents are permitted to report square footage of the dwelling as the total “living area” without a separate distinction between “above-grade” and “below-grade” areas.

“Above-Grade” is defined as space on any level of a dwelling with a living area and no earth adjacent to any exterior wall on that level.

“Below-Grade” is space on any level with a living area, accessible by interior stairs, and has earth adjacent to any exterior wall on that level.

Living area (sometimes referred to as “heated living area” or “heated square footage”) is space that is intended for human occupancy.

 

Basements & Attics

  • Regardless of whether they are finished, basements do not typically count towards a home’s gross living area.
  • Since they are below the rest of the home, basements can’t be included in the total square footage.
  • Professionals may note the size of a finished basement.
  • Attics may be counted in a home’s total square footage if they are finished.

The amount of living area dwellings is based upon exterior measurements except for condominiums, which use interior measurements. 

A tape measure that indicates linear footage in “tenths of a foot” will greatly simplify your calculations.  When measuring a structure, you should measure to the nearest tenth of afoot.

Real estate agents are expected to be able to accurately calculate the square footage of most dwellings.

An agent is expected to use reasonable skill, care, and diligence when calculating square footage.

What is a good management technique to protect yourself from false accusations?

Maintain a written record.

Formula for rectangle Area = Length x width

The formula for square Area = side x side

Formula for triangle Area = base x height x 0.5

Measuring Structures

Knowing how to measure square footage can be very useful for real estate rental and sale purposes, and it can also help you ace your next geometry test. To measure the square footage of a space, separate the space into manageable parts, find the square footage of all those different parts (usually by multiplying length times width), and add the square footage of all separate parts to find the square footage of the overall space.

Find the Square Footage of a Space

Break down the area into manageable parts. 

If you’re having trouble finding the square footage, then it’s probably because you’re not working with a neat area with just one length and one width.

Space might have squares jutting off in different places and could be shaped erratically.

All you have to do is split up space into even squares or rectangles.

To find the square footage, or the area, of the entire space, you’ll need to find the square footage of the individual spaces and then add them all together.

Draw faint lines separating the different sections.

Label them A, B, and C for your convenience.

Measure the length and width of the first space. Using a ruler or measuring tape, find the length and width of the first space you’ve created, Space-A.

Measure the length and width of the second space. 

Multiply the length of the second spacetimes the width of the second space.

This will lead you to find the square footage of the second space. Here’s how you find the square footage of Space B:

Measure the length and width of the third space. 

Add the square footage of the three spaces. 

Once you find the sum of the square footage of the three spaces, you’ll know the square footage of the entire space.

Here’s how you do it:

Square footage of Space A + square footage of Space B + square footage of Space C = square footage of the entire space

Learn a Few Tricks for Finding Square Footage

Find the approximation of square footage.

If you’re looking for an approximation of square footage, you can also try measuring the outside of your home and then subtracting any areas that won’t be factored into the square footage, such as the porch stairs garage.

Ceiling and floor tiles are often one square foot in size. You can count these to get a close approximation of the total square footage.

Find the square footage of a space that’s shaped like a half-circle.

If there’s a part of your house that’s shaped like half of a circle, you can find the circle’s square footage by finding the area of the space as if it were a full circle and then dividing it by half.

To do this, measure the long line that cuts the “circle” in half to get the diameter.

Next, divide that number by 2 to get the radius (r)

Finally, divide by 2 to get the area, or square footage, of the half-circle.

 

Find the square footage of a space that’s almost regularly shaped.

If you’re measuring a space that is almost fully a square or a rectangle, with only a small square or rectangular part missing, then measure the square footage of the entire space as if the missing part was filled in. Then, find the square footage of the missing part and subtract it from the overall square footage to find the space’s square footage. This will save you time.

 

Knowing how to measure square footage can be very useful for real estate rental and sale purposes, and it can also help you ace your next geometry test. To measure the square footage of a space, separate the space into manageable parts, find the square footage of all those different parts (usually by multiplying length times width), and add the square footage of all separate parts together to find the square footage of the overall space.

Break down the area into manageable parts. 
 
If you’re having trouble finding the square footage, then it’s probably because you’re not working with a neat area with just one length and one width.
 
The space might have squares jutting off in different places and could be shaped erratically. All you have to do is split up the space into even squares or rectangles.
 
To find the square footage, or the area, of the entire space, you’ll need to find the square footage of the individual spaces and then add them all together.[1]
  • Draw faint lines separating the different sections.
  • Label them A, B, and C for your convenience.

Measure the length and width of the first space. Using a ruler or measuring tape, find the length and width of the first space you’ve created, Space A.

  • The length of the space is 12 feet, and the width is 15 feet 

Multiply the length of the first space by the width of the first space. 

To find the square footage — or the area — of the space, just multiply the length times the width, just as you would do with any rectangle.

  • Ex: 12 feet x 15 feet = 180 square feet

Measure the length and width of the second space. 

 
  • Let’s say that the length of Space B is 20 feet  and the width of Space B is 10 feet.
 

Multiply the length of the second space times the width of the second space. 

This will lead you to find the square footage of the second space.[2] 

Here’s how you find the square footage of Space B:

  • Ex: 20 feet  x 10 feet  = 200 square feet.

Measure the length and width of the third space. 

Let’s say that the length of Space C is 20 feet and the width of Space C is 35 feet.

Multiply the length of the third space times the width of the third space. 

This will lead you to find the square footage of the third space. Here’s how you find the square footage of Space C:

  • Ex: 20 feet  x 35 feet  = 700 square feet

Add the square footages of the three spaces. 

Once you find the sum of the square footages of the three spaces, you’ll know the square footage of the entire space. Here’s how you do it:

  • Square footage of Space A + square footage of Space B + square footage of Space C = square footage of the entire space
  • 180 + 200 + 700 = 1080 square feet