How to Measure a Home
This Guide will help you measure a home.
Tools needed for measuring your home easily and accurately:
- a 100-foot measuring tape (fiberglass measuring tapes graduated in tenths of a foot (instead of inches, also known as “engineer’s scale”) are the best; (Available at Lowe’s or Home Depot in the tool department)
- a sturdy 25-foot retractable steel measuring tape (like the ones carpenters use)
- a laser measurement tool(optional, but very helpful)
- a medium size common screw driver(optional, but very helpful)
- The Measure grid sketch sheet provided, or a letter-size tablet of graph paper (10 squares per inch works best for most houses) or the work sheet provided
- a pen, pencil and eraser
Download a printable PDF Copy of the DIY Plan Sketch Grid Sheet
Let's Start Measuring the House
Always start by walking around the exterior and then the interior of the home.
Using a digital camera, take a picture of each side of the homes exterior.
Draw a basic outline sketch of the home and room configuration.
Measure the exterior and interior walls to the nearest 0.05 foot, for example 23.25 feet, noting the dimensions on the graph paper as you go, with each square representing one foot.
Begin by measuring the interior rooms of the home.
Interior Measurements are always needed for our Detailed Measure Package, but not always needed for the Basic Measure Package. If you are not sure, we recommend providing the data. If you have any questions, please contact our office for assistance.
- Measure each wall from corner to corner
- Note the measurement at each wall
- Note the approximate location of each window
- Note the approximate location and swing of each door
- Label the room name
- Note any other significant features and/or elements (kitchen and bath cabinets, tubs, toilets, fireplaces, steps, railings, etc. )
Repeat theses steps for each room in the home
Create a new sketch for basements, second and third levels of the home
Label each level accordingly
Next measure the outside of the first floor of the house. Begin measuring from any corner and work your way around the house. Move counter-clockwise around the house. It is best to do this the same way every time that you do it to avoid easily made errors and to make it easier to retrace your steps to track down any errors.
If you can't get close to a wall because of landscaping or other obstacles, use your screwdriver to anchor the 100-foot tape on the ground away from the wall.
As you move around the house check your sketch, place the exterior doors and chimneys in their approximate locations on your sketch. It is also helpful to make notes on your sketch of which walls have full height second floor walls that are the same as the walls on the first floor. It also may help you to include in your sketch where the porches, stoops, screen porches, patios, and other outdoor areas are located on your drawing as you go.
Important note about Bonus Rooms and Partial wall conditions
- In any accessible area where there is a sloped ceiling condition with walls that are not full height, NOTE the height of the wall. In some areas, only the floor area in a room with at least a 60" floor to ceiling clearance is consider Useable Heated Square Footage. You should check the Guidelines for your area.
Unless noted otherwise,
- it is accepted that the main and upper levels of the home is a typical wood frame structure with 3.5” stud walls
- it is accepted that a basement level of a home is a typical concrete or CMU wall
Exceptions to these conditions should be noted.
All notes and measurements must be clear and legible.
If you have any questions, please contact our office for assistance.
Noted from -
SQUARE FOOTAGE–METHOD FOR CALCULATING: ANSI Z765-2003
To claim adherence to this standard, the following methods of measurement and calculation must be employed when quantifying square footage in single-family houses.
When using English measurement units, the house is measured to the nearest inch or tenth of a foot; the final square footage is reported to the nearest whole square foot.
When using Metric or Standard International (SI) measurement units, the house is measured to the nearest 0.01 meter; the final floor area is reported to the nearest 0.1 square meter.
Calculation of square footage made by using exterior dimensions but without an inspection of the interior spaces is allowed but must be stated as such when reporting the result of the calculation. Calculation of square footage for a proposed house made by using plans must be stated as such when reporting the result of the calculation.
Circumstances can exist when direct measurement of a structure is not possible. Access to the interior may not be available and the nature of the terrain, structure, or other obstacles may preclude direct physical measurement of the exterior in the time available. Building dimensions developed through some means other than direct measurement or plans can be susceptible to inaccuracy, as is the calculated area. Calculation of square footage developed under such circumstances must be identified as such when reporting the result of the calculation.
Detached Single-Family Finished Square Footage
For detached single-family houses, the finished square footage of each level is the sum of finished areas on that level measured at floor level to the exterior finished surface of the outside walls.
Attached Single-Family Finished Square Footage
For attached single-family houses, the finished square footage of each level is the sum of the finished areas on that level measured at floor level to the exterior finished surface of the outside wall or from the center lines between houses, where appropriate.
Finished Areas Adjacent to Unfinished Areas
Where finished and unfinished areas are adjacent on the same level, the finished square footage is calculated by measuring to the exterior edge or unfinished surface of any interior partition between the areas.
Openings to the Floor Below
Openings to the floor below cannot be included in the square footage calculation. However, the area of both stair treads and landings proceeding to the floor below is included in the finished area of the floor from which the stairs descend, not to exceed the area of the opening in the floor.
Above- and Below-Grade Finished Areas
The above-grade finished square footage of a house is the sum of finished areas on levels that are entirely above grade. The below-grade finished square footage of a house is the sum of finished areas on levels that are wholly or partly below grade. Ceiling Height Requirements
To be included in finished square footage calculations, finished areas must have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet (2.13 meters) except under beams, ducts, and other obstructions where the height may be 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 meters); under stairs where there is no specified height requirement; or where the ceiling is sloped. If a room’s ceiling is sloped, at least one-half of the finished square footage in that room must have a vertical ceiling height of at least 7 feet (2.13 meters); no portion of the finished area that has a height of less than 5 feet (1.52 meters) maybe included in finished square footage.
Finished Areas Connected to the House
Finished areas that are connected to the main body of the house by other finished areas such as hallways or stairways are included in the finished square footage of the floor that is at the same level. Finished areas that are not connected to the house in such a manner cannot be included in the finished square footage of any level.
Garages, Unfinished Areas, and Protrusions
Garages and unfinished areas cannot be included in the calculation of finished square footage. Chimneys, windows, and other finished areas that protrude beyond the exterior finished surface of the outside walls and do not have a floor on the same level cannot be included in the calculation of square footage.
In 1996, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopted a standard for measuring single-family residential buildings, called the American National Standard Z765-1996. This standard was last revised in 2003. The standards were developed by consulting with several industry groups, including Realtors, builders, architects, and appraisers.
The ANSI standards are NOT LAW, only a voluntary guide.
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The ANSI Standard is the accepted method by National Association of Realtors and by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.
The ANSI standard bases floor area calculations on the exterior dimensions of the building at each floor level, and include all interior walls and voids. "Finished area" is defined as “an enclosed area in a house suitable for year-round use, embodying walls, floors, and ceilings that are similar to the rest of the house.”
The North Carolina Real Estate Commission gives this guideline for “Heated Living Area”:
“Living area (sometimes referred to as "heated living area" or "heated square footage") is space that is intended for human occupancy and is:
- Heated by a conventional heating system or systems (forced air, radiant, solar, etc.) that are permanently installed in the dwelling - not a portable heater - which generates heat sufficient to make the space suitable for year-round occupancy;
- Finished, with walls, floors and ceilings of materials generally accepted for interior construction (e.g., painted drywall/sheet rock or paneled walls, carpeted or hardwood flooring, etc.) and with a ceiling height of at least seven feet, except under beams, ducts, etc. where the height must be at least six feet four inches [Note: In rooms with sloped ceilings (e.g., finished attics, bonus rooms, etc.) you may also include as living area the portion of the room with a ceiling height of at least five feet if at least one-half of the finished area of the room has a ceiling height of at least seven feet.]; and
- Directly accessible from other living area (through a door or by a heated hallway or stairway).”