How Do I Measure My Homes Square Footage?
The most common comparison for one-unit properties is the above-grade gross living area or GLA. The gross living area or square footage, as most people refer to it is considered the total area of finished, above-grade residential space excluding unheated areas such as porches and balconies. Now let’s break that down. Would a basement be considered living area? How about an enclosed patio? How about a casita or guest house? What about an addition? What if you have an area below grade?
Here is the Fannie Mae selling guide description in regards to square footage:
“Only finished above-grade areas can be used in calculating and reporting of above-grade room count and square footage for the gross living area. Fannie Mae considers a level to be below-grade if any portion of it is below-grade, regardless of the quality of its finish or the window area of any room. Therefore, a walk-out basement with finished rooms would not be included in the above-grade room count. Rooms that are not included in the above-grade room count may add substantially to the value of a property, particularly when the quality of the finish is high.”
Garages and unfinished areas cannot be included in the calculation of finished GLA.
When it comes to an enclosed patio, there can be many differences in quality, as you may know. If the quality of finish is high, and it flows with the overall home, the value can be included as an exterior improvement. Although you will receive varying contributory value for an enclosed patio, it should not be included in the GLA of your home.
In regards to a casita, if you have to leave the main part of your home to enter the casita it is not considered in the overall GLA of your home. Now, if the casita is attached to the main house, and you can enter it without going outside, then it can be included. This isn’t to take away from the value of a detached casita; it most likely will have contributory value with the amount depending on your market area. A guest house or granny flat should not be considered in the main house square footage.
When it comes to an addition, there are many factors that an appraiser will take into account. For instance, has the addition been permitted? Does the addition flow with the main house? Are the utilities similar to those of the main house? The addition does not necessarily need to be permitted for it to contribute to the value of the home. One of the biggest questions is, has the work been completed in a workmanlike manner? Another consideration is whether it’s considered an over improvement for the area.
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