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What Does Square Foot Mean?


As a design firm, we hear the term square foot used so many different ways, but all of them are not the same. Often times our clients will ask, “what will the cost be per square foot?”

Here are three important things to consider prior to asking that question:

Be sure you are comparing apples to apples

  • Square footage is calculated many different ways depending on who is doing it—sometimes volume is counted and sometimes lower level is included
  • The American National Standards Institute ANSI publishes a method for standardizing the calculation
    • Calculate based on exterior walls
    • No volume space
    • Stairs on each floor should be included

What affects the cost per square foot?

  • Complexity of Design:
    A great example of how design can impact price is by looking at two 3000 square foot homes.   A 3000 SF two story with 1500 SF on both floors builds less expensively than a 300 SF ranch because the ranch has twice as much foundation.
  • Finishes:
    An example of the impact of finishes is looking at your flooring. Wood floors are two to three times more expensive as carpet or vinyl.
    An example of the impact of exterior finishes is comparing the costs of vinyl, siding, or stucco to the costs of fiber cement, brad siding, or cedar.   The style of your home might call for a specific type of exterior finish, which will greatly impact the cost per square foot without actually impacting the size of your home.
  • The amount and type of windows and doors:
    One of the most overlooked impact to price per square foot lies within windows and doors in your home. From closest to showers, doors can greatly vary in price. Even the height of the door standard 6’ 8” versus 8’ greatly impact the costs.
  • Ceiling heights:
    Many new homes today are built with 10’ ceilings; however, what most consumers don’t realize is that you must have a 2x6 exterior wall to handle the code applied to wind loads. You also need taller windows and doors to look appropriate for the height of the ceiling.

For more information about home designs in Columbus, Ohio and to learn more about Residential Designed Solutions, contact us at 614.430.0027.

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