PPRGLLC

Square footage calculator

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Is there a way to change how square footage is calculated? Our appraisers calculate square footage based on exterior dimensions, so the living area square footage that shows below each plan is significantly less than the total square footage. I know I can change rooms such as garage, open below, etc. to be included rather than excluded from the living area calculation. However, even including all rooms, the living area will still be less because of wall space. 

 

I am using Chief Architect Premier X11 on a PC computer.

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Defaults>Plan

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Chief Architect has a neat cad tool to create a building footprint as a cad detail.  

 

You can copy the footprint detail and display the area of the footprint in the polyline label.  Open the dbx for the object and on the label tab insert the macro area. 

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23 hours ago, PPRGLLC said:

I know I can change rooms such as garage, open below, etc. to be included rather than excluded from the living area calculation. However, even including all rooms, the living area will still be less because of wall space.

 

I think you are incorrect in your assumptions about how Chief is calculating living space.  They DO include area covered by walls.  The option under General Plan Defaults simply toggles whether or not the FINISH layers of EXTERIOR walls are included or not.  If you want to see what exactly Chief is including, select your Exterior Room (click just outside the building and hit tab one or more times as necessary) and then click on the Make Living Area Polyline tool.  The one thing that Chief excludes that I commonly include for various purposes is the stairwell area (along with other Open To Below areas). 

 

Anyway, a lot of us use polylines with or without macros to get this information more to our liking.  If you don't want to mess around with macros, one of the easiest things you can do is simply create a polyline using the aforementioned Make Living Area Polyline tool or using the Make Room Polyline tool or just drawing one manually and then simply copying the area value and pasting where desired...

area.thumb.png.7c584418b5374f21a8fc6ba040d3124f.png

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"Our appraisers calculate square footage based on exterior dimensions, so the living area square footage that shows below each plan is significantly less than the total square footage."

 

Significantly less?  

 

You must live in the land of significantly thicker wall finishes.  An extra inch of perimeter thickness outside the framing (sheathing and fibercement siding) on a typical 2400 sf ranch house adds less than 18 sf to the area.  So 2400 Chief versus 2418 your appraisers.

 

Am I missing something?

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The Living Area label can also be used for a total calculation that includes an Open Below room. Open the room specification dialog and change to "Include in Living Area" and it will return the entire total of the footprint.

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On 3/13/2020 at 3:02 PM, PPRGLLC said:

Our appraisers calculate square footage based on exterior dimensions, so the living area square footage that shows below each plan is significantly less than the total square footage.

 


Actually Chief does not calculate footage by the standard appraisers use.   Yes, appraisers use outside of the envelope.  (on a brick veneer, this can make a significant difference), 

 

But an even bigger one is appraisers count stairs on both levels.


For this reason I prepare two sets of plans for clients.  One for Field which had square footage tables in keeping with standard building practices.  AND, one for the bank and appraisal.  The appraisal set  has sqft calculated per ANSI Z765  It is the standard for single family residential square footage calculations. 


Depending on a the plan, there can be as much as 200 sqft difference in the plan.  At $80-200/sqft, that can be a $40,000 swing.


You dont want to use the ANSI standard for the Field plans since so many subs charge by sqft and your const costs rise.   I realized this significant difference about 10 years ago.

I clearly label the bank set on the sqft table with a note saying "calculated per ANSIz756".


Back in the day, I always wondered why appraisal sqft used to come in so much higher.  I just used to think they were bad at measuring!  But no....they use an entirely different standard.  

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Yes, for sure, brick finish and count stairs twice will skew the numbers. 

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I personally think the stairs should be counted twice...by pretty much everyone. 

  • From a functional standpoint, the top side of the stairs is just as legitimate a living space as a hallway, and the underside is typically just as functional as many closets. 
  • From a cost standpoint, a set of stairs is a floor (treads) and ceiling (bottom side) just like any other floor area except that its notably more expensive to construct one set of stairs than it is to construct the same footprint of standard floor area.  It still requires 2 layers of framing, 2 layers of ceilings, 2 layers of flooring, 2 layers of moldings, etc. etc. except that the work required to install those things is more difficult and time consuming in even the most basic house and can be astronomically more so in some houses.  Staircases can very easily rival kitchens and bathrooms in the cost per sq. ft. category in some higher end homes. 

 

If it were up to me I'd say counting stairs at all levels should be the standard. 

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I proposed over 15 years ago that Chief should create a schedule giving the sqft per the various "official" standards

then the user could apply the desired value for the appropriate client

 

all of this should be "readily available" without the need to use macros

yet, macros could be used if desired

 

Lew

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16 hours ago, Alaskan_Son said:

I personally think the stairs should be counted twice...by pretty much everyone. 

  • From a functional standpoint, the top side of the stairs as just as legitimate a living space as a hallway, and the underside is typically just as functional as many closets. 
  • From a cost standpoint, a set of stairs is a floor (treads) and ceiling (bottom side) just like any other floor area except that its notably more expensive to construct one set of stairs than it is to construct the same footprint of standard floor area.  It still requires 2 layers of framing, 2 layers of ceilings, 2 layers of flooring, 2 layers of moldings, etc. etc. except that the work required to install those things is more difficult and time consuming in even the most basic house and can be astronomically more so in some houses.  Staircases can very easily rival kitchens and bathrooms in the cost per sq. ft. category in some higher end homes. 

 

If it were up to me I'd say counting stairs at all levels should be the standard. 

Area calc methodology does vary slightly from region to region but Michael makes a great point about the stairs. On a 2 story house with a basement, the area of the actual stairs is indeed comprised of '3' floors: the basement slab, the main-to-basement stairs, and the main-to-2nd floor stairs.

The only area within an exterior perimeter which shouldn't be included in a floors area calc (IMO) is areas that are Open To Below (not to be mistaken for stairs and not to include the areas containing stairs). 

That is the standard in my region, both for real estate and for building departments.

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I have been involved in construction for approx 25 years in the south east US.   The construction standard has always measure sqft as Chief does.    Considering a significant amount of trades also charge by the sqft, putting ANSI square footage (or appraiser method) would not be a good thing.   It is not cheating the trades since they have always measured by the 'construction' standard.  Their pricing models have been based on this standard for years.

 

It seems that this sqft standard is pretty much across the board in designing.   Think of any plans online I have ever seen or built over the years.  Also I have built quite a few commercial projects which all had calculated sqft as the building envelope to the outside of the structural envelope.  (not outside of the veneer).  Not for site area pages, but for the construction pages. 


It seems only the appraisal world uses this method (along with stairs on both levels).

 

I only discovered this years back during the recovery when I was having a hard time getting projects to meet financing appraisals. The lenders just use the sqft on the plans.   When building costs rose, and markets were down, having a project appraise for financing became tough.   That is when I discovered the ANSI standard and started producing "Bank" sets of plans.   Presenting the sqft tables  in the standard that appraisers use makes the difference of a project getting financed or not at times.


I have shared this info with builders who have been in the business for much longer than I and quite a few  had no idea of the different standards.

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Just to clarify Eric's post, you can already control whether or not the living area is calculated based on the wall's main layer or the wall's surface layer in the General Plan Defaults:

 

living area control.png

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In addition, if you ever wonder how Chief is calculating the living area for a particular building, all you need to do is select the Exterior Room and use the Make Living Area Polyline tool.

 

1253812389_livingareapoly.thumb.png.a58f66f21718a91a14853d2a5959b7c5.png

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Why aren't you using X12 Dermot?

Did you let your SSA lapse?  ;)

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It was just an old image I had and I don't think these features had any changes for X12.

 

What you should be asking is "why is there a mystery hole in the living area polyline?"  I was going to update the image but I wanted to see if anyone noticed it.  I actually captured that image when I was trying to diagnose an obscure problem in the living area calculations.  Turns out that particular plan had some funky walls and room areas which caused that little hole throwing off the totals.  So the real lesson here is that if your living area seems odd you might want to check them by creating a living area poly and making sure it's exactly what you expect.  And if you ever do find a problem, please report this to our tech support team so we can look into it more.

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22 hours ago, Dermot said:

In addition, if you ever wonder how Chief is calculating the living area for a particular building, all you need to do is select the Exterior Room and use the Make Living Area Polyline tool.

 

1253812389_livingareapoly.thumb.png.a58f66f21718a91a14853d2a5959b7c5.png

If this polyline were given a bit more properties, it could be even more useful, no? Spitballing a few ideas:

-could it auto-update?

-could it have an OIP?

-could it have an auto-layer setting (not CAD default)?

-could it, and others like it (from other floors) be included in a schedule?

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51 minutes ago, Dermot said:

What you should be asking is "why is there a mystery hole in the living area polyline?"  I was going to update the image but I wanted to see if anyone noticed it.

 

I noticed the hole in the living area, but was more curious about all the storm shelters and safe rooms. Somebody's really paranoid!

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5 hours ago, Dermot said:

I was going to update the image but I wanted to see if anyone noticed it.

OK, I'll be honest - I missed it!

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