North Carolina Residential Square Footage Guidelines

Instructor: Kyle Aken

Kyle is a journalist and marketer that has taught writing to a number of different children and adults after graduating from college with a degree in Journalism. He has a passion for not just the written word, but for finding the universal truths of the world.

The lesson reviews the residential square footage guidelines published by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. A definition of heating living area is included. Possible disciplinary actions may result from incorrect calculations.

Overview of Residential Square Footage Guidelines in North Carolina

Newly licensed real estate broker Jennifer was working her first set of residential listings. The North Carolina Real Estate Commission (NCREC) provided the rules she needed to follow for correct listings. One surprising piece of information that was not required was the square footage of the real estate in question. Virtually all of the listings she had seen included the square footage.

The Residential Square Footage Guidelines booklet published by NCREC, was generated based on information from three sources:

1. The American National Standard for Single-Family Residential Buildings

2. Square Footage-Method for Calculating approved by the American National Standards Institute, Inc.

3. House Measuring & Square Footage published by the Carolina Multiple Listing Services, Inc.

How to Measure Square Footage

Using the Residential Square Footage Guidelines, Jennifer spent some time reviewing how to calculate square footage for a residence. The first thing to remember is that for real estate, the broker needs to find the square footage of the living space only. Also described as heated living area, she needed to figure what places in a residence meet that criterion.

Heated living areas (HLA) had three components. First, the space needed to have a conventional heating system that was a permanent part of the residence. The unit had to be habitable all year and heat was essential. Second, the interior needed to be finished. In other words, the walls needed sheet rock and paint, or wallpaper plus the floors and ceiling also needed to be completed. Third, each section of the living space needed to be connected so the person could move from space to space without going outside.

The HLA spaces also have a seven-foot ceiling height requirement as part of the 'finished' criteria. An exception to the seven-foot rule was sections under items on the ceiling like duct-work or beams. The height of those portions needed to be at least six feet four inches.

Other useful areas such as unfinished basements or other unfinished interior spaces are worth mentioning but do not include the square footage of a garage, decks, carports or porches.

The square footage measurements for HLA are taken from the exterior so the thickness of an outside wall is part of the square footage. A one hundred foot tape measure is recommended for exterior walls. If an exterior wall is not accurate or cannot be reached, measure the interior wall and add six inches. However, when measuring a condominium, use the interior wall and a thirty-foot tape measure. If using inches, Jennifer learned that she needed to convert those to tenths of a foot. The square footage of HLA and unfinished interior spaces needed to have separate totals on a listing.

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