How to measure the square footage of my apartment

How to measure the square footage of my apartment

What Exactly is Square Footage?

Square footage is, plainly put, the ground area of any building structure. It’s calculated by multiplying the structure’s length by its width. NYC real estate is expensive and it only gets more so as square footage increases, so are prepared to pay up!

It’s also a good idea to have a general idea of the average price per square foot so that you’ll know almost immediately whether or not the listed price is reasonable.

How Do Condos Stack up Against Co-ops When it Come

How Do Condos Stack up Against Co-ops When it Comes to Square Footage?

Co-ops rarely provide square footage stats but sellers should consider including this information for potential buyers. Doing so helps buyers get a better sense of the unit’s available space and whether it will accommodate their needs. Not sure of the figures?  Consider hiring a professional to calculate it for you.

OR, if there are comparable units for sale in your area that provides square footage information in their listing. Use it as an estimate for yours but be sure to clearly note that the figure is just that an estimate.

Condo listings typically include square footage information along with a unit floor plan. And, thanks to the NY Department of Finance. This information is available to the public when real estate is listed for sale.

It is more Technical than It Seems

Fun Fact: Square footage is not objective. The Attorney General allows different methods for measuring it. The only requirement is that the calculation method be disclosed. With that being said, developers can use their powers for good or evil as they can use a calculation method that will best benefit them. (i.e. including a share of the building’s common spaces such as hallways to fluff up the total square footage).

Final Thoughts

Don’t underestimate the importance of a property’s square footage, especially if you’re in the market to buy in NYC.  Ask the right questions, including what method was used to calculate the square footage whether it includes any unlivable shared spaces.

Related Article:

Square Footage Guide To Living From Small To Big Real Life Home Best Price Per Square Feet in NYC – To Rent and Buy

Measure each room

Going room by room, measure the length and width, rounding off to the nearest half-foot.

Real estate agents often use an electronic laser distance measuring tool. If you have one, place it on a wall, aiming it directly at the wall opposite it. You will then see the square footage displayed on the device’s screen. A tape measure works well if you don’t have a laser tool.

Multiply those numbers, rounding off to the nearest square foot, then write down your measurement on your sketch. For instance, if the kitchen is 10 feet by 16 feet, the total square footage is 160 square feet.

If a room has an alcove, such as a living room with an area for a home office, measure that space separately and add it to the overall square footage of the room. The same is true for rooms with closets: measure each one by multiplying the length by width.


Why Waste Time Looking at Apartments that are Smaller than What I Want?

Because the listed square footage is not as important as you think.

Have you ever said this to yourself:

“I can’t live in less than X square feet. There is no way my stuff will fit.”

Accuracy of a floorplan

The Strata Plan is the legal document registered at the Land Title Office that stipulates the true square footage of a condo. Listing agents generally hire professionals to measure and to create a floorplan and gross square footage for their marketing material. Take note that professional measurers calculate square footages that are often larger than the legal strata plan. I have seen a professionally measured floorplan measure up to 50 to 200 feet larger than the legal strata plan. While these measures seek to eek out every portion of useable space, the results can at no time be used to determine the true market gross value.

If true market value in a subject building at a said floor level is $1100 per square foot then a difference of 50 to 200 square feet will have a huge impact on the investment/perceived market value.


  • Strata plan legal square footage of 1575 square feet x $1100 sqft = $1,732,500
  • Floor planner square footage of 1675 square feet x $1100 sqft = $1,842,500

A listing agent that advertises the professional measures square footage on the Multiple Listing Service must disclose this in writing at time of the showing/offering for sale.

When the buyer signs their legal paperwork at time of completion with their notary or lawyer, they are signing off on the legal strata plan and square footage; this is no time to have a surprise or conflict regarding the legal square footage of their investment.

How to Calculate Square Footage

You can calculate the square footage of a standard-shaped room (a square or rectangle) in three easy steps:

  1. Measure the length of the room with a tape measure.
  2. Measure the width of the room.
  3. Multiply the length times the width.

Example: If the room is 8 feet long and 10 feet wide, the square footage of the room is 80 square feet (8 x 10 = 80).

But what if you need to measure the square footage of a whole apartment or house? No problem! You have two options:

  • Option 1: Measure the length and width of the whole house and multiply them together (this works best for perfectly rectangular homes).
  • Option 2: Calculate the square footage of each individual room, then add those numbers together (this works best for homes with lots of angles).

Your Apartment Budget

Remember: you are paying for the entire apartment. If you are only using one room most of the time, you’re paying for that unused space. Utility costs depend a lot on your square footage, as well. If saving money is a top priority for you, this could be a factor when choosing square footage. The smaller the apartment, the less it will cost to heat and cool it. Square footage is a major factor in determining the rent price, so look for a floor plan that has what you need in a layout that makes sense.

Add up all your measurements

Once you’ve measured each space, you can add up all your numbers to find out the rental unit’s total square footage.

How to calculate the square feet of a house

When preparing to measure the square footage of a home, be it a house, condo, or townhouse, start with a few simple supplies:

  • Paper and pencil
  • Calculator
  • Measuring tape and/or laser measuring tool

If the property is a perfect rectangle, simply measure the length and width and multiply those two numbers together. For example, if your one-story house is 60 feet wide by 40 feet long, then your property is 2,400 square feet (60 x 40 = 2,400).

However, most properties have more complex floor plans. When this is the case, it’s helpful to follow these simple steps to measure square footage.

  1. Draw a rough sketch of your entire space, labeling all of the rooms you need to measure. Include hallways and vestibules as their own “room.”
  2. Measure the length and width, in feet, of each room. Then, multiply the length by the width to calculate that room’s square footage. For example: If a bedroom is 12 feet by 20 feet, it is 240 square feet (12 x 20 = 240). For each room, write the total square footage in the corresponding space on your sketch.
  3. Once each room is measured, add up all the measurements to determine your home’s total square footage.

Note: If you live in a tract home, condo or townhome community, you may be able to get architectural drawings or master builder plans of your floor plan. These may already have your square footage calculated.

It’s important to know how much square footage you need

Although there are couples raising children in tiny homes under 500 square feet, for the basics — enough space to eat, sleep and wash — you want about 200 to 400 square feet per person.

But it’s not just about square footage. You also need to consider a room‘s shape. For example, a queen-size bed needs a 12-foot by 14-foot room (168 square feet), and a California king needs one that’s 14-feet by 12-feet — same square footage but different shape.

Deciding How Much Square Footage You Need

The amount of square footage you need depends on a variety of factors and it isn’t the same for everyone. If you live alone, you may not need as much space as you would if you were living with another person. When sharing your apartment with a roommate, consider how much space each of you will need to be comfortable (i.e., a private quiet space and a dining space). The amount of stuff you plan to bring along with you may also be a factor, along with the size of your furniture.

For example, if you must have a king-size bed, that will take up 42 square feet of your living space. Your eight-foot sectional will need at least a 12-foot wall. Measure the width and depth of your must-have pieces of furniture, and keep in mind that you’ll need some space around each item (roughly 30 inches) in order to move about.

When in doubt, ask the pros

If calculating the square feet of your particular property feels overwhelming, consider hiring a professional appraiser to do it. The average appraisal cost for a single-family home typically runs about $350. A condo appraisal fee is generally between $300 and $500, and multi-family home appraisals can run anywhere from $600 to $1,500.

While two different professional appraisers could evaluate the same home and come up with slightly different square footage figures, they do all aim for scientific accuracy. “We’re always shooting for somewhere between 1 to 3 percent variance,” Day says.

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