The measurement of the square footage of a house is not regulated and there are several organizations that provide standards but not everyone uses the same set of standards when measuring a property. When you are buying or selling a house the square footage can become a very important component of what a buyer may consider to determine the price they will pay and that number for square footage may not be accurate or would have been different if another listing agent had listed it. A house that sold next door may have sold at an incorrect price if the buyer used a price / square foot number and the listing agent used A,B,C standards of measurement and your agent is going to use D,E,F ‘s standards of measurement. For a seller knowing the accurate square footage may impact your assessment and the amount of taxes you pay.
It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that a standard for measuring square footage was developed by the American National Standards Institute, also known as ANSI . However, the ANSI standard is only a set of suggested guidelines and there are other standards out there as well. These include the FHA/VA (Federal Housing Administration/Department of Veteran Affairs) standard and the Real Estate Commission standard . While the ANSI standard is the most commonly used, you should always ask how the square footage of a house was determined. – How Stuff Works.
Some of the components of a home that are and are not included:
- Each floor of the house should be measured separately at the level of the floor. If the top story of the house is part of an angled roof, the measurements should be taken inside to get an accurate result.
- In order for a room to be included in the total square footage of a house, the ceiling must be a certain height — so that crawl space doesn’t count.
- Basements or attics, they should not be included in the total square footage. In fact, any part of the house that is below ground level — even if it is only partially so — should not be included under any circumstances. Even if it a basement area is finished — which is to say that it is heated the same as the rest of the house and could be lived in year round — it doesn’t count according to ANSI.
- Outside, garages are not included, period. If the garage is attached to the house, the shared wall will serve as the outside wall of the house when determining square footage. The same goes for guesthouses, pool houses or any rooms that require you to leave the finished area of the main house to gain access.
Which is why in my view it is not possible to price homes for sale simply using the square footage nor is it possible for a buyer to simply multiply a price / per square foot and get their offer price or value.
In my view a better way to determine the price of a home is to compare and adjust each component of comparable houses and determine the price that way rather than using square footage.