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what does a home's square footage include? Living space only, or garage, basement, 3-season?

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March 25 2011 - Westborough
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Profile picture for nimblejack

I have a follow-up question regarding the house pictured below. The area where the garage shown once existed was space we had always considered basement. But an architect has confirmed for me that the town where the house is located considers that to actually be the FIRST FLOOR of the house. There is an entry door on the left side (not shown) and on that side the new floor is less than 18 inches below grade. The right side is no more than 4 feet below grade. The garage door has since been replaced by a bank of windows and the wall on the right side of the driveway is being moved to allow two vehicles to be parked side by side. There are egress windows that allow two rooms in the space to legally be called bedrooms. The footprint of the house is 41 feet by 26 feet so the finished, heated space on that level (which includes a full bathroom) will easily be over 1,000 square feet. So my big question is: Does that new living space have to be called "finished basement" or not? Also, if finished basement space is valued at a lower rate than other living space, what is the percentage difference between the two?

Jack

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July 03
Most of the time its whats livable, heated and inclosed. I know a garage can be heated but that not usally whats included in the measurement. Most of the time you will hear referred to as GLA by appraisers this means Gross Livable Area. so if aa property is two stories high and the Width is 20' and the lenght is 50' that means the HXWXL= 2X20X50= 2,000 Gross livable area. They never mention the basement.

Basment is used for cost to repair new that when you see them also use the basement as part of the total sqaure footage of the house. You can add Gla by inclosing a porch and getting the permits and having the house resurveyed. Then give that information to the appraiser and they will add it to the houses overal size.

I hope this helps. Its a great question you might hear other opionions but this is based on appraisal guidelines.
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March 25 2011
it is the total of living area's as long as they are permitted by the local city or county codes.Property insurance companies will cover you , ( that keeps the yearly premiums coming ), BUT if there is a fire and the cause is attributed to a non code deficiency, good luck getting anything from your insurance company. At least that is how it is in Silicon Valley ( San Jose ), CA.  
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March 25 2011
Hi thom9,

You have received great answers below.  I just want to add that there really is no consistency with square footage if you are questioning how homes are represented in the Multiple Listing Service....or on other real estate websites such as Zillow.

According to the rules on the MLS, the living area may include a finished basement as long as it is disclosed in the listing.  Unfortunately, there is no way to differentiate between what is "above grade" and "below grade" after the information is syndicated throughout the web.  When in doubt, ask a real estate professional for specifics.

Kind regards!
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March 25 2011

Functional living space is all space finished in the home. When an appraisal is done for mortgage purposes or for any other reason, the appraiser will only utilize the living space "at or above" the front door threshold. Living space below that point is catagorized as finished basement living area and it is calculated at a lower valuation per square foot. The tax assesor in the community where the home is located should use the same formula as an appraiser would utilize for determining the value of the home.

If a garage is converted to additional living space, it must be done with the neccessary permits and approval from the municipality. Once the work is done and insepcted officially, the tax assessor will acknowledge that living space as "legal" living space. Of course, the tax assessment will then be adjusted.for the legal living space.

3 seasons room are calculated as unfinished at a lower valuation and will not be included in the living space calculation

Check the assessor's record for a more accurate determination of the living area in a home.

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March 25 2011
Living area the garage and 3- season are not included.  We usually put the finished basement separate. 
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March 25 2011
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Finished area above grade and with heating/AC (if AC is appropriate).  Garage, and three season areas are not included in square footage (even total square footage).
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March 25 2011
Total square footage should include everything you listed above.  Living area is where you find differences between a MLS listing sheet and the tax assessors office.  Properties are priced and compared to other like properties with similar living area; garages, three season porches and finished below grade basements are amenities that can add to value.  For appraisal purposes as an example, a finished basement with a bedroom and bath that is below grade would be excluded and not included in living area. 

best,

Eric
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March 25 2011
This is not always obvious and you have to read the disclosures part of the listing every time
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March 25 2011
 
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