What Is Square Footage?

The square footage of a property is a measurement of its living space calculated in square feet. One square foot is measured by marking out a square of space with each side measuring one foot. The total square footage of a property is the total number of one-foot squares of livable floor space. A property’s square footage can impact its appraisal value (which is a measure of a house’s market value) or how much you pay in property tax on your home.

There are no national standards in the US for measuring the square footage of a home, and the standards typically vary by state. However, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) outlines certain standards to help professionals and homebuyers accurately measure the square footage of a home. For example, an appraiser following ANSI standards will only factor measurements of a house’s “finished” spaces accessible by heating or cooling systems and under a home’s ceiling into the home’s square footage calculation.


What is lot size

Lot size, as the name suggests, refers to the size of the land that your property is on. Typically, it is expressed in square feet or in acres. Of course, it is a metric for understanding how large the property actually is.

Sometimes you might purchase the lot and receive all of the essential information regarding how big it is, or sometimes you might inherit land and may not be able to find this information immediately. In situations where you do not have access to the size of your lot, you might be wondering how you can find this information.

Luckily, there is still a solution.

Using specific technology available today, you can either ascertain the dimensions based on satellite images, or use a calculator to work out things like surface area.

How can I benefit from having accurate dimensions?

Having accurate dimensions can help your metal building supplier to both confirm that your building is suitable for space, but also create 3D CAD drawings to show you what your property will look like.

This can be very helpful when you are going through the approval phase of your purchase, so you can confirm that you are happy with the plans.

Plus, having this information means that when you are purchasing land, you can make sure it is the right size.

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Accuracy of measurements

The RICS guidelines note that it is essential for measurements not to be misleading, either intentionally or unintentionally. Depending on the circumstances, what is being measured and the equipment used, different levels of accuracy may be suitable.

When pacing out a large area such as a carpark, a tolerance of +/-10% of the total area may be acceptable. When using a laser measuring device to determine the internal area of usable office space, a stricter tolerance of +/-1% would be more suitable.

To keep measurements as accurate as possible, the Code suggests introducing checking measures. These checks might include a regime of regular equipment calibration and software updates to ensure reliability.

Keeping It Legal

If you need to calculate lot dimensions for legal reasons or to sell your property, then you’ll need to have a few important documents in place. Make sure you have the following:

Deed Title report Relevant surveys that were commissioned by you or previous buyers/sellers

Gross Building Area

Gross Building Area (GBA) is a method of real property measurement that takes the exterior measurement and includes the entire finished area and common areas, such as stairways and hallways. However, exterior common areas, such as stairways are not subtracted from the exterior measurement if applicable. The GBA is the most common measurement method used for comparison for two-unit to four-unit family properties.

How to calculate the square feet of a house

When preparing to measure the square footage of a home, be it a house, condo, or townhouse, start with a few simple supplies:

  • Paper and pencil
  • Calculator
  • Measuring tape and/or laser measuring tool

If the property is a perfect rectangle, simply measure the length and width and multiply those two numbers together. For example, if your one-story house is 60 feet wide by 40 feet long, then your property is 2,400 square feet (60 x 40 = 2,400).

However, most properties have more complex floor plans. When this is the case, it’s helpful to follow these simple steps to measure square footage.

  1. Draw a rough sketch of your entire space, labeling all of the rooms you need to measure. Include hallways and vestibules as their own “room.”
  2. Measure the length and width, in feet, of each room. Then, multiply the length by the width to calculate that room’s square footage. For example: If a bedroom is 12 feet by 20 feet, it is 240 square feet (12 x 20 = 240). For each room, write the total square footage in the corresponding space on your sketch.
  3. Once each room is measured, add up all the measurements to determine your home’s total square footage.

Note: If you live in a tract home, condo or townhome community, you may be able to get architectural drawings or master builder plans of your floor plan. These may already have your square footage calculated.

How to Calculate the Lot Size

Once you have tracked down all the important papers, it’s time to get down to the details and measure the lot size.

Plot out the boundaries of the property on a piece of paper.

Divide the sketch that you’ve drawn into the simplest shapes that the natural land lines allow. If you have a square lot, divide the sketch into a square. For an odd-shaped lot, such as those found in rural or undeveloped commercial areas, you can divide the physical sketch of the land into an irregular polygon into two triangles.

Use a roll-out measuring tool to measure any unknown boundaries and write these numbers down in the appropriate area of the sketch. A roll-out measuring tool is standard for measuring a land line. They are available online and can cost around $5 to upward of $100. A roll-out measuring tool is a simple piece of equipment that most homeowners who have measured a deck or other area on their land may be familiar with. It looks like a measuring tape on the end of a stick with a wheel. Some roll-out measuring tools are handheld and digital. To use these, follow the directions because each manufacturer’s may be different.

Gross External Area (GEA)

Gross External Area is the area of a building measured externally at each floor level. Party walls are measured to their centre lines.

What does GEA include?

Check the Code for full information. As a guide, GEA includes:

  • The thickness and projections of external walls
  • Areas occupied within internal walls and partitions
  • Outbuildings that share at least one wall with the main building
  • Garages
  • Conservatories

The Drip Cap

  • Most people have a general idea of their property’s boundaries.
  • However, if you are selling the property or want to place something near your property line, a general idea won’t be sufficient; you need to know exactly where your property lines are before you begin.
  • The pins will be set several inches beneath the ground’s surface so you will need to use a metal detector to find them.
  • Mark the site of each metal pin with a wooden stake.


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