Finished vs Unfinished Square Feet

Finished vs Unfinished Square Feet

Question: XXXX Jamestown Road is listed as XXXX sqft. But, the finished space is substantially less. Are properties usually listed with total square footage or finished square footage? (I have always been unclear on this.)

How do I calculate the size of my home?

Finished vs Unfinished Square Feet

John Wilson:
For our area, the “Square Footage” is understood to be “finished and conditioned” area……by conditioned it means “heated”…..not necessarily cooled.

So, then how does one measure the “conditioned area”….

a. by the outside walls…?
b. by the inside walls…?
c. by the center of the studs on the inside walls….?

There is no one accepted method…..so, you see some variances in the actual square footage…..and, as long as it is not “material”…..i.e.: less than 5% difference, (rule of thumb) it is probably not a “material” variance……however, in a case where the advertised square footage is a great deal different from the actual square footage….someone is either confused or is embellishing the actual size of the home……

Further, they should not be counting the garage, or other “unconditioned” space….if they counting unfinished bonus room area or unfinished basement area, they should not……a bonus room or basement that is finished and heated (and hopefully cooled) is ok…..an outdoor shed that is heated, is really not “finished”….and is not considered living area, so it is not counted…….

Now the county records may differ from the actual square footage, as some people finish areas, like basements and bonus rooms, or add on to a house after the purchase…..and, then that is an ok scenario as long as the area is finished and conditioned….the only concern here is that the buyer may want to make sure that the improvements and/or additions are built to code and a permit was drawn for the work.


Do you have a clearer understanding of Finished vs Unfinished Square feet? Let us know! And you have a question for John Wilson, drop us an email at askjw@cbtraditions.com