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SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS !

10 Simple References About Home Size


Steven Corley Randel, Architect!

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SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

ONE 12" SQUARE IS ONE SQUARE FOOT

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One square foot is a two-dimensional measurement that is twelve inches by twelve
inches. This square unit determines the area in which a building occupies space, and is
a common reference to the spaciousness or overall size of a house. For example, if we
have a tiny house that is 10 feet wide by 10 feet deep, we multiply 10 times 10, and
conclude that it is 100 square feet.
10 X 10 = 100 square feet !
FIG. 1

100 Square Feet!


is 10' x 10'!

9 Square Feet!
or 3' X 3' is a
Square Yard!
Deep

1 Square Foot is
12" x 12"

Square Foot

Square Yard

Wide

Figure 1 provides a scaled vision of the square foot. It is easy to see that a simple
square measurement can quickly multiply as the dimensions increase in both directions.!
It is also important to understand that a 3-foot by 3-foot area, or 9 square feet, defines a
square yard. Flooring materials are sometimes specified this way. 10 square yards of
carpet is the same as 90 square feet of carpet.!
10 (square yards) X 9 (square feet per square yard) = 90 (square feet)!

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SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

TOTAL SQUARE FOOTAGE IS A GEOMETRIC SUM!

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The total square footage of a house is a sum of all of its areas added together. In
Figure 2, think of this as the shape of a floor plan, each colored grid field is 100 square
feet. The red and white fields combined represent 1,400 square feet. Simply count the
number of grid fields, 14, and multiply times 100 to get 1,400 square feet. !
FIG. 2

1 Grid Field = 100 Square Feet!

14 Grid Fields = 1,400 Square Feet

14 (grid fields) X 100 (square feet per field) = 1,400 (square feet) !
Another way to arrive at the total square footage is to determine the perimeter
dimensions. Once you have these figures, you can determine the square footage by
calculating the overall measurements of each area and adding them together.

SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

STATED SQUARE FOOTAGE IS THE CONDITIONED SPACE

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The stated square footage represents the heated and/or cooled (conditioned) spaces.
Figure 3 shows us a plan where the conditioned habitable space measures thirty feet
wide and forty feet deep. The garage, which is not heated or cooled, measures ten feet
wide by twenty feet deep. Therefore, we know that the house is twelve hundred square
feet and the garage is two hundred square feet. The tax assessor will record the house
as twelve hundred square feet and the real estate agent can represent it the same way.
The garage adds two hundred square feet to the structure, but this is not represented in
the figures expressed by the tax assessor or the description of the size of the house.!
FIG. 3

BRM

BRM

KIT

40'

PORCH

LRM

DRM

PORCH

(House 30' X 40' = 1,200 sq. ft.) (Garage 10' X 20' = 200 sq. ft.)!
These figures are simplified for the purposes of the illustration, however, there are
elements that add to or take away square footage from the plan. Bay windows,
fireplaces, porches, and mechanical closets are just some examples that affect the
actual square footage of any house. Regional customs often mandate whether or not to
include or exclude specific areas. Consider this information a guideline and always
defer to the appropriate professional to determine the stated square footage.

SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

SOME SQUARE FOOTAGE IS A GRAY AREA!

FIG. 4

Bay windows count toward stated square footage when


the bay extends from floor to ceiling and is structural.
They do not count toward square footage when they
are an individual window unit that hangs within the wall
structure and does not extend the full height of the
adjacent wall. See Figure 4!
Similarly, the footprint of a fireplace does not count
toward stated square footage when it projects beyond
the outside walls, but does count when the fireplace is
positioned within the interior of the house. See Figure 4!
FIG. 5

Yes
No

Yes
No

Mechanical
closets and
chases or
walled in spaces count toward the stated
square footage if they are within and
accessible from the conditioned spaces of
the house. They do not count toward the
square footage if they are accessed from the
exterior or are adjacent to exterior spaces.
See Figure 5!

Second levels are often built within the


framing of pitched roofs. Ceilings in these
circumstances slope with the pitch of the
roof. When the ceiling slopes to less than 5
feet above the finished floor, the remaining
space should not be considered part of the
stated square footage. See Figure 6 !

FIG. 6

Yes

No

> 5'

< 5'

Basements count toward stated square


footage only if they are conditioned and
completely finished. Screened porches do
not count either, but glass-enclosed
sunrooms would if they are conditioned.

SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

SQUARE FOOTAGE INVOLVES SIMPLE GEOMETRY !

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Spaces are not always square or rectangular. Knowing some simple geometry helps to
understand circumstances where you want to know the area of a bay window, for
example. If you have a bay window which projects past the primary wall by 2 feet, you
can determine the area by calculating the triangles formed by the shape. The area of a
right triangle is simply the multiplication of its rectilinear dimensions divided by two. !
FIG. 7

6'

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2 X 2 = 4, & 4/2 = 2 square feet!
2 square feet + 12 square feet + 2 square feet = 16 square feet!
OR!
(2' X 2' = 4'/2 = 2 sq. ft.) + (6' X 2' = 12 sq. ft.) + (2' X 2' = 4'/2 = 2 sq. ft.) = 16 sq. ft.!
If necessary, break down the area into smaller pieces to arrive at the total square
footage. For example, add all three shapes of the bay window together. You now have
the square footage of the bay window and you can simply add that to the square
footage of the rest of the plan. See Figure 7!

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SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

SOME SQUARE FOOTAGE IS COMMON!

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The square footage of some rooms is usually similar. Having knowledge of common
room sizes helps you relate to, and understand, how much space a particular house
might have. You can either state square footage with walls, or within the walls.!
A very common bathroom layout has a 5
foot wide tub/shower at the end of the
room with a water closet next to the tub,
then a vanity at the doorway of the room.
The layout in Figure 8 requires 5 feet of
width and 8 to 10 feet of length within the
walls. From these dimensions, we know
that the interior square footage required
for a common bathroom is between 40 to
50 square feet.!

FIG. 8

Common Bathroom 5 X 8 = 40 square feet!


Large Bathroom 8 X 10 = 80 square feet!
Secondary bedrooms are usually at least 10 feet wide and 10 feet long, or 100 square
feet. More spacious bedrooms will be around 12 feet wide and 14 feet long for a total of
168 feet. Master bedrooms are frequently larger. A bedroom that is 14 feet wide by 18
feet long will be 252 square feet. !
FIG. 9

Small Bedroom 10 X 10 = 100 square feet!


Master Bedroom 14 X 18 = 252 square feet!
Garages frequently have similar square footage. A common
dimension used to design a garage is an interior dimension that
is 10 feet wide and 20 feet long for each car. Therefore, you
know that a 1 car garage is at least 200 square feet, a 2 car
garage is at least 400 square feet, a 3 car garage is at least 600
square feet, and so on. See Figure 9!

20'

Single Car Garage 10 X 20 = 200 square feet!


Two Car Garage 200 square feet X 2 Cars = 400 square feet

SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

NEWER HOUSES LIKELY HAVE MORE SQUARE FOOTAGE!

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US Census data indicate that the average square footage of newly constructed singlefamily houses in the United States increases each year. Recessions slow the pace, but
when the economy recovers, the acceleration returns. For example, the 2005 average
square footage reached 2,432. By 2010 that number had fallen to 2,392, but that is only
a 2% decline. New statistics are already showing an increase above the 2005 average.!

FIG. 10

1975!

1,645!

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1985!
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1990!
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1995!
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2000!
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2005!
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1980!

1,740!
1,785!
2,080!
2,095!
2,266!
2,434!
2,392

2010

YEAR BUILT

AVERAGE SQUARE FOOTAGE!

In the graph, Figure 10, the year is indicated to the left and the average square footage
is indicated to the right. Each square of the horizontal bar represents 100 square feet.!
Consider that in 1975 the average square footage was 1,645. If you compare that to the
current approximate average of 2,400 square feet, that is an increase of 46% in 35
years. In one generation we live in one house, and a half more, than did our parents.
What these figures do not reveal is that we also have fewer people living in each
household. This means that we are each living in significantly more square footage per
person than did our predecessors.

SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

NEWER HOUSES LIKELY HAVE SMALLER LOTS!

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The lot, also known as a site or a parcel, on which a single-family house is built, can
also be indicated by square footage to represent its size. Sometimes size is expressed
in acreage, which can be translated into square footage. See Figure 11!
One Acre = 43,560 square feet.!
FIG. 11

Less Than!
1/4 Acre!
10,000 Sq. Ft.

Plan Footprint Of FIG. 3!


Placed On Each Parcel Size

100'

5,000 Sq. Ft.

208.7'

One Acre!
43,560 Sq. Ft.

100'

208.7'

Acre (43,560 X 0.75) = 32,670 square feet!


Acre (43,560/2) = 21,780 square feet!
Acre (43,560/4) = 10,890 square feet!
The median lot size for a single-family home increased in the 1960s, leveled in the
1970s and 1980s, and then began to decline toward the end of the 1990s and continues
to do so, according to the US Census. Currently the median lot size for single-family
homes stands around of an acre, or about 10,000 square feet. Larger houses on
smaller lots are the trend.!

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SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

ZONING ORDINANCES RESTRICT SQUARE FOOTAGE!

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Local zoning ordinances restrict square footage that is allowed to be built on a particular
lot. Most properties have building setbacks, height restrictions, and some have
easements. Building setbacks establish an area at which a structure can be built away
from its property lines. Height restrictions limit the overall height of structures, which
often limits the number of floors that can be built. Easements are not always present,
but when they are, the effect on square footage has to be determined through
coordination with the local planning department. See Figure 12!
FIG. 12

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Property Line!
Side Setback

Rear Setback

Area within property line


equals the area of the lot!

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Footprint
Of House

Building Setback Line!


Area within setbacks equals
area allowed to build within!

!
Front Setback

Easement Line!
Area of easements prohibits
area to build within

Other ordinances specific to each municipality must be considered. Should you


encounter a situation where you need to know these limits, check with the local planning
department to determine what is required for each property. Be sure that you
understand that the planning department is separate from the building department.
Each city government has both, but they oversee and perform different duties. As a rule
of thumb, just remember that the building department issues building permits, and the
planning department administers zoning ordinances. If this issue is critical, you may
want to invest in hiring an architect or another professional who is experienced in
dealing with the question of how much square footage is allowed on a specific property.

SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

SQUARE FOOTAGE VARIES BY BUILDING TYPE!

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The previous examples illustrate square footage for single-family structures, but what
about condominiums or other multi-unit dwellings? They are similar, but there are a
handful of differences that you will want to know and understand.!
There are two highlighted condominiums in Figure 13, one yellow and one pink, which
indicate the extent of their areas. Corridors in common are not counted as part of the
stated square footage of a unit. Neither are elevators, mechanical chases, and utility
closets accessed through common spaces. The square footage of a unit goes to the
centerline of adjoining units, or it goes to a certain dimension beyond the interior wall.
For example, where walls may be two feet thick, the measurement may extend to only
six inches into that thick wall. Customs vary from one region to another. Structural
columns within a unit may be very thick, but these are considered part of a unit's square
footage if it occurs within the boundaries of that unit. Consult with a real estate
appraiser, architect, or other professional who knows how to calculate square footage if
this issue is in question. !
FIG. 13

CORRIDOR IN COMMON
BRM
ELEV

KIT

KIT

BRM

LRM

BRM

UNIT 631

SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

LRM

BRM

UNIT 633

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com

10

STEVEN CORLEY RANDEL!

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Steven is a licensed architect in California where
he has worked in residential design since 1987. He
is also a contributing writer at HOUZZ.com where
his articles appear regularly. On his own he has
completed more than 100 projects ranging from
condominium remodels to new homes in 10
counties and 25 cities within California. His home
designs have been built in Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois,
Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York,
Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming,
and Manitoba, Canada. !
Steven attended Texas A&M University earning a
Bachelor of Environmental Design in 1986. During
junior year he participated in the School of
Architecture's study abroad program. "We lived in a rural compound near Florence, Italy,
made up of dorms and classrooms with a monastery bordering one side and a church
on the other. It was an enriching experience and we studied incredible architectural and
cultural sites throughout the country."!
Summer internships were spent in Dallas and Washington, DC. By invitation of a college
friend, Steven visited California in 1986 and has since called it home. "California's
diverse and extraordinary landscape enchanted me then, and still does."!
Since working independently, Steven has designed new homes on challenging hillsides
and extraordinary locations. He has created remodels and additions that respect the
existing character of the original house, and that are in keeping with the scale of the
neighborhood. "I'm often asked what style I design. I design any type of architecture as
long as it belongs in its context. Fashions of architecture have their own vocabulary,
which are not difficult to follow, but style should be determined after the fact, not before."!
415 336 3255!
Randel Residential Architecture, Inc.!
350 Townsend Street, Suite 742!
San Francisco, California 94107!
steve@stevenrandel.com

SQUARE FOOTAGE FACTS

2015 Steven Corley Randel

www.StevenRandel.com