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Does a basement count towards square footage?

Many houses in the New River Valley area have basements and since square footage is important when selling a house, owners want to know if their basements can count. There are a few things that go into the equation.

1. Is the basement finished? Finished in this case means drywall, flooring, ceilings that are on par with the rest of the house, and doors to rooms when applicable.

finished basement with kitchen

2. Is the basement climate controlled? Many homes have a wood stove in the basement, but without air conditioning as well, it's not likely to count as square footage.

3. Is it a walk out? At least some of the basement is far more likely to count towards square footage if the first two criteria are met AND there's a door that leads out to the yard level. That means no steps up outside of the door or a basement with only windows as emergency exits. Having at least part of the basement above grade is an important distinction in whether to count the basement towards the square footage.

Not a walk out basement

4. Are the windows full size? Basement living areas can be very well lit with half or short windows, but that doesn't mean that they can be used as a bedroom according to code. They're also a good indicator that the room is below grade, which affects value.

Counting basements towards square footage is also governed by local code. Talk to your Realtor for how your basement can envalue your home.

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