# How is square footage measured?

• posted on June 16, 2005, 3:37 pm

I'm looking at house plans with the intention of building in the near future. I have been limiting my search to ranches under 1800 square feet for budget reasons. I just looked at a builder's ranch that the real estate agent said was 1560 square feet but when I calculated the square footage from the floor plan based on dimensions to the outside edges of the exterior walls (excluding garage), I came up with over 2300 square feet. Am I measuring the square footage correctly, which means that the agent isn't even close. I can't imagine another way to measure that could account for such a large difference. Incidently, the price listed on the plan is much too low for 2300+ square feet - more consistent with the 1560 square feet the agent claimes. Any thoughts?
Thanks John
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• posted on June 16, 2005, 4:12 pm
John Richards wrote:

Kinda depends on who you're talking to... Some reference inside dimensions, while other reference outside.
Notan
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• posted on June 16, 2005, 4:48 pm

feet
estate
exterior
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much
feet
Still.... that is a difference of under 10% ... not 47%! You could try analize which portion might have been left out, based on the figure.Sorry I can't make further sense of this.
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• posted on June 16, 2005, 5:08 pm
There are many diffrent kinds of square foot. They are all square and they are all a foot.
Sometimes you include everything covered by a roof. Even outside the walls. Sometimes you go to the outside of the walls. Sometimes you go to the inside of the walls. Sometimes you go to the center of some walls and the side of other walls. I think I've heard of "livable" which doesn't count some part of perfectly useful indoor space. I think sometimes basements aren't included (particularly if "unfinished")
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• posted on June 16, 2005, 5:08 pm

I can understand those two methods but that doesn't come close to accounting for a difference of over 700 square feet! Any other comments?
John
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• posted on June 16, 2005, 5:28 pm
John Richards wrote:

Check gruhn's post...
In addition, garages can go either way.
Notan
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• posted on June 16, 2005, 7:13 pm

LOL! \$100.00SF doesn't build a dog house around here... Here in the NE a basic suburban 1500SF ranch starts at about 300K to build. Sells for about \$400-450K

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• posted on June 16, 2005, 10:33 pm
I hear ya...

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• posted on June 17, 2005, 2:17 am
message >> "John Richards"> wrote >>> I'm looking at house plans with the intention of building in the near >>> future. I have been limiting my search to ranches under 1800 square feet >>> for budget reasons. I just looked at a builder's ranch that the real >>> estate agent said was 1560 square feet but when I calculated the square >>> footage from the floor plan based on dimensions to the outside edges of >>> the exterior walls (excluding garage), I came up with over 2300 square >>> feet. Am I measuring the square footage correctly, which means that the >>> agent isn't even close. I can't imagine another way to measure that >>> could account for such a large difference. Incidently, the price listed >>> on the plan is much too low for 2300+ square feet - more consistent with >>> the 1560 square feet the agent claimes. Any thoughts? >> >> There are many different ways to calculate square footage and lots of >> labels on the things that are calculated. >> This is the way I would set it up for what you are speaking. >> >> Living - 1560 >> Garage - 440 >> Porch - 300 >> -------------- >> Total - 2300 square feet >> >> Usually, contractors base their square foot price on the living area only, >> at about \$100 per s.f. >> So, for example, a 1560 s.f. home would cost about \$156,000.00 >> >> BTW: It is not unusual for wall space to use 10-15% of the total square >> footage. >> > >
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• posted on June 16, 2005, 8:32 pm

feet
could
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1560
labels
How ranches have depreciated in size - seems barely large enough to erect even a moderate sized house.
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• posted on June 16, 2005, 8:35 pm

I did not include the garage (as stated in my original post), porch or basement (full but unfinished basement) in my measurement of the square footage. I used the detailed dimensions between the exteriors of the outside walls. These dimensions result in 2382 square feet. The area taken up by exterior (2X6) and interior (2X4) walls is approximately 150 s.f. which brings the total down to 2232 and even eliminating all closets, laundry room and stairway ( about 230 s.f.) the total is still down to only 2000 s.f., still 440 s.f. more than the 1560 s.f. that the agent quoted and much more area than would be expected for a price of \$198,000 including the lot (guessing the lot to be about \$30,000).

Then I guess the question is how do you measure "living area".
Even excluding all exterior and interior walls, all closets and laundry room and the stairway I still come up with 2000 s.f.!

I still don't know how this house could only be considered 1560 s.f.
John
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• posted on June 16, 2005, 8:45 pm
John Richards wrote:

Notan
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• posted on June 17, 2005, 4:55 am
John...
You have received interesting replies to your question. Hopefully the following will help.
1. In my experience as an architect in different states and cities, with both custom and spec houses, I have found that there are different ways to calculate floor area. In our current practice, based in San Antonio and Austin, Texas....the standard calculation is to count to the exterior face of the outside wall sheathing....this is the board or plywood or other material that goes over the wood stud framing. The standard calculation is to count what is called "air-conditioned space" this is a way to exclude garages and any exterior storage areas, decks, etc. Roofs have nothing to do with the standard real estate calculation here. (To calculate my fees for custom homes, I usually charge by the square foot of "interior space" ....then I include spaces like porches, terraces, garages etc. by counting them as 50 percent of their actual floor area).
2. From what you have said so far..... I suspect that the drawings are wrong, or the real estate agent is wrong....or someone is lying to you. Now. you may be seduced into thinking that this would work to your favor given the apparently low price....but it would come back to get you during construction....no one is going to give you square footage for free.
I hope this helps!!!
Christopher Egan Architect San Antonio, Texas & Mexico City
www.egan-martinez.com
John Richards wrote:

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• posted on June 17, 2005, 7:08 am

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• posted on June 17, 2005, 5:21 am

I attached a scan to a post but the post didn't show up. Guess I'll have to wait until the time to build gets closer and find out first hand from an actual builder.
Thanks all for your time. John
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• posted on June 17, 2005, 8:11 am

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• posted on June 17, 2005, 4:03 pm

Yes, I know. I wasn't asking for advice on whether I should pursue the house - just on how the s.f. might have been determined by the builder. I quess, based on my posts, that a red flag may have gone up indicating that I might be trying to jump into something unwise and you were just trying to give me a "heads up". I appreciate that in spite of my initial reaction.

I emailed the agent and explained how I determined the s.f. and pointed out the large discrepancy. I asked her if she could clarify their method of calculating s.f. and explain the reason for the discrepancy. If her response still leaves me in the dark, I may just visit the house and do some actual measurements as you suggest.
Regards John
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• posted on June 17, 2005, 6:16 pm
John Richards wrote:

The first question should be where did the SF number come from. It may have been provided by the builder or the RE agency might have provided it. Frankly, it doesn't make a big difference. Never trust the numbers you're given.
R
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• posted on June 17, 2005, 7:22 pm
This will take a little more research on your part and an investment of \$10 but you can download a copy of the most recent NAHB guidelines for square footage calculations. It is in PDF format and I have included the link below. It is a pretty simple document (about 13 pages). If your builder is a member of NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) then he should be following these guidelines. If these guidelines are not being followed, it could set him up for substantial lawsuits in the future. This is one of the things that is making multifamily housing/design in the west such a pain in the ass! Square footage is one of the major litigation issues. Joe Blow moves into his new condo and measures it and finds that it is 83 square feet smaller than his paperwork shows. He sues the builder, who then names the architect, engineer and anyone else that has insurance or a deep pocket. Then he gets refunded the x # of dollars per square foot he paid and the lawyers walk away with millions in their pockets. Isnt it a wonderful society we live in today!
http://www.nahbrc.org/tertiaryR.asp?TrackID=&CategoryID 52&DocumentID&36
Good Luck....
-Robert

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