According to James Siebers, city assessor and CoreLogic contributor, anyone who determines the square footage of a single-family home should come up with the same number, whether they are an appraiser, an assessor, realtor, insurance agent or even a home owner. If this is not the case, he says, then care must be made to make sure that measurements are being taken and calculated correctly.

When professionals are determining the square footage, they should all be looking at the habitable areas of the house. One term used in the industry is Total Living Area (TLA), or total finished living area that has heating, ventilation and lighting, excluding basements. TLA should always be calculated by measurements starting with the use of some kind of measuring device, from the exterior side of the walls.

According to the American National Standards Institute’s standards for measuring the square footage of a single-family home, measurements should be recorded to the nearest inch or tenth of a foot, measurements of areas below the grade should be listed separately, and stair and landing areas should be calculated into the square footage of both levels. These standards are not law, but are presented as a guide.

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