There are a lot of numbers involved in planning something as complex as a custom built home. From budgeting numbers to the permitting process, you’ll be seeing a lot of facts and figures as you plan your build. One of the most crucial of those numbers is your future house’s square footage.

If you’ve bought a home before, this will come as no surprise to you. Square footage is one of the most prominent elements of any listing, and with good reason. Even a couple hundred square feet of difference in a house can make a huge difference in how livable it is for you and your family.

On a level deeper than what listings can convey, it’s not just about how many square feet. You’ll also be considering how that space is apportioned out between different rooms and spaces in your home. A major benefit to building your own home is how entirely customizable this element becomes.

However, that freedom can also be daunting. How is square footage calculated? What counts and what doesn’t?

Before you even meet with our WillowTree architects to plot out your floor plan, here’s a crash course on understanding square footage.


How Is It Calculated?

Square footage is incredible simple to determine. All you need is a tape measure and a calculator. Square footage refers to the total area of your house’s rooms, added up. To get one room’s square footage, you simply multiply the width by the length. For example, if you have a 12 foot by 12 foot bedroom, then the square footage of that room is 144 feet.

Taking measurement of each room in a house and adding the square footage numbers together gives you the total square footage. Determining the square footage of your current home can be a helpful tool in deciding how much you need to plan on for your future custom build.

Of course, not all rooms are neat square or rectangle shapes (unfortunately)! If you’re trying to measure a breakfast nook, for example, one way is to break each offshoot into squares, measure them, and add up the total. 

For really creative room shapes, like triangles or hexagons, vCalc offers a handy calculator tool. 


What Counts And What Doesn’t?

Whether you’re trying to figure out your home’s current square footage or planning ahead, you might be wonderful: what counts towards the total?

There is some variance in how this is assessed, but a good rule of thumb is to only include fully finished, livable spaces in your square footage number. This means that you don’t need to include garages or patios. You also don’t need to include crawl spaces or basements, which is part of why basements are often considered such a bonus for those seeking lots of room to spread out. Anything that has to be accessed via a ladder doesn’t count either.

As you’re likely gathering by this point, the number you see on real estate listings is only part of the full picture. There is a massive difference between a 2,000 square foot house with a deck, a garage and a basement and a 2,000 square foot house with none of those additions.


How Much Do I Need?

Of course, all of the other factors boil down to the simple core question of “how much space do I need?”

Ultimately, that question is always going to be answered by your own unique lifestyle. If you’re a fan of minimalism, you can do a lot with 1,500 square feet. But if you love entertaining, want room to stretch out or plan on a growing family, you might want to be looking at upwards of 3,000 square feet.

You’ll also want to consider how that square footage is used. If you like hosting dinner parties, allocate more space to the dining room. If you often work from home, make sure your home office can accommodate everything you need. The beauty of custom built homes is that they can fit your lifestyle like a glove.

That’s where WillowTree comes in. We design your home to be totally yours, from the floor plan to the finishing decor. Contact us to find out what spaces are available now