Can underground rooms be listed in square meters?

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Sweet spoilers ahead

Most horror movie characters react with fear when they discover a hidden room or a network of dark tunnels under their house.

But for a character, AJ Gilbride, in the sleeper horror movie Barbaric released last month, discovering the damp passages and creepy dungeon in its basement was a joyful moment.

Justin Long plays a disgraced actor in the midst of a #MeToo-style scandal that destroyed his career and wiped out his finances, sending him to Detroit to sell his investment properties to pay his legal bills.

While staying at one of his properties, a well-maintained Airbnb in an otherwise bombed-out neighborhood, Long stumbles upon a creepy secret room in the basement with a camera, a bed, and a bloody handprint. When he digs further, he discovers a whole network of dark, unfinished tunnels under the property.

Instead of reacting in fear, the discovery results in one of the most memorable comedies seen in a horror movie in years, when the film cuts to a lengthy search “can the underground chambers be listed in square feet” on the Internet before heading into the tunnels armed with a measuring tape.

Inman examined the realities of the surface underground and answered questions that Long’s character could have used answers for.

Can underground rooms be included in the square footage of a house?

As Long’s character discovered during his first Internet search, underground or unfinished rooms – as well as enclosed porches, three-season rooms, and garages – do not count as living spaces and cannot be calculated for the total area of ​​a house.

Since the rooms he discovered were both underground and unfinished, there’s no way they could have counted against his square footage.

Although the secret room and its surroundings cannot be included in the gross living area (GLA), they can potentially be included in the total living area (TLA), he finds.

What is the difference between GLA and TLA?

According to Appraisal Partners, gross living area, or GLA, can be thought of as the finished, habitable, above-ground space in a home that can be heated or cooled. Meanwhile, the total living area, or TLA, includes the underground space and possibly the secondary suites.

According to Jody Bishop, President of the Valuation Institute, Jody Bishop, above ground or “above ground” living space is generally priced differently than below ground or “underground” living space. below ground level”, which means that a hidden room in the basement can add value to a home as a finished, functional space but at a lower price than the rest of the house.

“While it could add value, if it was a usable and functional space like the rest of the basement, then yes it could add a bit more value, but not at the same rate as the area above ground level,” Bishop said.

For example, if the area above ground level of a house is worth $100 per square foot, the area below ground level may be worth $20 per square foot, Bishop explained.

In Gilbride’s case though, given that the unhidden basement was largely unfinished and unlivable, it’s unlikely the hidden dungeon and even darker earthen tunnels would have done much for its property value.

Who can I contact with my unusual evaluation questions?

Bishop recommends seeking appraisers appointed by the Principal Residential Appraisal (SRA) to handle any quirky appraisal issues, such as hidden rooms and underground space. SRA-appointed assessors receive higher education and training and generally have more experience than other assessors.

“They work in markets where it’s more unusual,” Bishop said. “You don’t typically find them in the entry-level mortgage market, they deal with unusual things.”

SRA-appointed appraisers can be found on the Appraisal Institute website.

How do appraisers determine the square footage of a home?

As of April 2022, accredited appraisers are required by Fannie Mae to use the American National Standards Institute’s standardized property measurement guidelines to calculate square footage, which involves computer-generated sketches rather than drawn sketches by hand and requires appraisers to show the calculations they used to determine the square footage.

The measurement system was adopted in 2022 to bring more consistency to how appraisers determine home value based on the GLA.

“Residential property appraisals are strongly correlated to the GLA, but historically there has been little consistency in how appraisers determine it,” reads a brochure from Fannie Mae explaining the change. “Our adoption of the ANSI standard for measuring, calculating and reporting square footage creates alignment among market players, provides a professional and defensible method for the appraiser, [and] allows transparent and reproducible results for the user of the evaluation report.

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