• Melanie Evans

How to Calculate the Square Footage of a Waterloo Region Home


It may not matter if the reported footprint is correct when purchasing a Waterloo Region home you love. After all, a property with a large footprint that is dated, badly maintained, or poorly designed will not attract the highest sale price in the region. Knowing the square footage of a home might help you determine whether the asking price appropriately reflects the property's value.


It might surprise you to learn that there is no national standard for measuring residential property in Canada. In fact, depending on what kind of home you're purchasing, where you're buying, and who you're buying from, determining residential square footage can be a little tricky. Given that determining square footage is a math calculation, this discrepancy seems a bit ludicrous. Isn't it a simple, straightforward procedure with only one correct answer?


Unfortunately, the absence of standards for how and what to measure has resulted in significant differences. Even for real estate professionals, these variations can make searching for and comparing residential real estate properties in Canada complex and challenging.


Why is measuring the square footage of a Waterloo Region home important?


Many homebuyers use the total square footage of a property as a criterion for deciding whether or not to buy it.


Condo buyers, for example, frequently utilize per square foot costs to compare one apartment to another in the same building. Although square footage costs do not provide a whole picture, they do allow prospective buyers to compare apples to apples — seller A charges $a per square foot, whereas seller B charges $b per square foot.


Because there are no national standards for square foot measurements in Canada, some real estate boards have few guidelines, some utilize antiquated requirements, and only a handful use strict regulations.


Despite these complexities and difficulties, buyers, sellers, and their brokers should be as precise as possible when measuring a home's gross living area (GLA) or total living space, as this figure might affect the home's value.


What's the best way to measure the square footage of a Waterloo Region home?


The good news is that determining basic square footage is rather simple.


Simply multiply the length of the room by the width to get the square footage of a rectangular or square room.


If a room is 11 feet long and 15 feet wide, the total square footage is 165 square feet (1115 = 165).


You'll need to divide the room into box-shaped portions if it's not completely square.


If you have an L-shaped kitchen, for example, divide the space into two boxes. To calculate the total square footage, measure the length and width of each box, then add the two measurements together.


What if a piece of the room is missing, such as a room with a triangular window view that opens up onto a city-view balcony? Then you'll need to partition the room into box pieces again, but this time one of the boxes will be a triangle.


To calculate the square footage of each piece, measure the length and width of each box. Divide the total size in half for the triangle part. Now combine all of the measurements to get the final square footage figure.


TLDR:


  • Square or rectangular rooms: Gross Living Area = Length x Width

  • Circular rooms: Gross Living Area = π x (Diameter / 2)

  • Triangular rooms: Gross Living Area = (Length x Width) / 2

  • To measure the total gross living area (GLA) of a home, calculate the square footage of every room and add it all up


What should be included in measuring a home's square footage before a sale?


The reported gross living area of a residence should not include all of the space in the home. Only actual living space – rooms in the house where people live, work, and play — should be counted in square feet.


In most Canadian communities, for example, the square footage of a garage is often excluded from the reported total square footage of a home; however, finished attic space that is suited for habitation and has 7 feet of head clearance can be included. Basement or below-grade living space is another common omission.


Rooms in your home with the following characteristics can be included in the square footage calculations in general:


  • Ceiling height of seven feet or higher

  • Walls are covered with drywall or similar wall covering

  • Flooring

  • Heating & cooling


The rooms that are typically included in a home’s square footage, if they are finished, include:


  • Living room

  • Family room

  • Kitchen

  • Dining room

  • Bathrooms

  • Bedrooms

  • Porch with heating and cooling system (if applicable)


Unfinished and below grade areas in the home are not included in the home square footage. These typically include the following:


  • Garage

  • Attic

  • Rooms with a sloping ceiling

  • Basement (finished or unfinished)

  • Separate storage areas, such as sheds

  • Pool house

  • Guesthouse

  • Detached in-law suites, coach houses or lane-houses.


These omissions should not be viewed as a setback or a reduction in the value of your home. Measure, document, and advertise all finished, liveable space; just make sure that any official documents only reflect actual above-grade, liveable space.


How to Calculate Square Footage More Accurately


The simple measurement methods we covered are OK, but may not produce accurate enough results for the purposes of using them to determine value when buying a Waterloo Region home. What should you do instead? Here are some suggestions:


Hire a Professional


If square footage is an important consideration when buying or selling a house, consider hiring professionals to take precise measurements. Professionals and firms that specialize in square footage can give precise room-by-room measurements, as well as additional materials like master floor plans, in a timely manner.


While you can take your measurements during an open house, it's preferable to schedule a time slot so that the professional or firm can properly set up their lasers and guides.


Use Technology


The best way to remove inconsistencies is to get up-to-date measurements that were obtained through the latest technology.


Fortunately, much of this technology has found its way into residential home sales. Virtual tours, 3-D floor plans, and laser-guided square footage measurements are now considered industry standards for measuring residential real estate. There's a lot of these tools out there though, so ask your real estate agent to help you find the best one.


A Note on Square Footage Measurements in Ontario


Instead of recording actual property sizes, Ontario real estate jurisdictions categorize residential homes based on square-footage ranges. The accuracy of the selected range does not need to be checked, therefore these ranges can be extremely broad.


In the province, some realtors and municipalities are attempting to set more precise square footage guidelines. Nonetheless, any property dimensions given in a listing should be regarded as potentially erroneous unless the listing agent can show you formal professional measurements, or you get your own taken!


Getting ready to buy a Waterloo Region home, or sell the one you own? Let Team Pinto use our huge experience and expertise to help you. Contact the award-winning Team Pinto here, or book a free Zoom consultation to discuss your unique Waterloo Region real estate needs here.

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