What is the Difference Between Above Grade and Below Grade Square Footage?

What is the Difference Between Above Grade and Below Grade Square Footage?
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Published By Jennifer Jewell

Question: What is the Difference Between Above Grade and Below Grade Square Footage?
Answer: The difference between above grade and below grade square footage is significant. Above grade square footage includes all livable space on levels above ground, such as main and upper floors, while below grade square footage encompasses areas below ground level, typically including basements and sometimes partially finished or finished lower levels.

What is the Difference Between Above Grade and Below Grade Square Footage? Square Footage Explained

When it comes to measuring square footage in a property, it’s vital to understand the terms "above grade" and "below grade". Simply put, "above grade" refers to all the space above ground level, while "below grade" refers to areas that are below the ground level, such as a basement.

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On the Surface: The Importance of Above Grade Square Footage

Above grade square footage is the measurement of all the living space that’s above the soil line. It includes spaces such as the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other areas situated on the ground floor and floors above. This measurement plays a key role in determining a property’s value as it includes most of the main living areas in a home. [ 1 ]

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Related Article: How is House Square Footage Calculated in Canada?
Related Article: Is the Balcony Included in Square Footage in Ontario?

Digging Deeper: Understanding Below Grade Square Footage

In contrast, below grade square footage refers to the areas of a home located below the ground level. This typically includes basements, whether finished or unfinished. While these areas may be functional and useful, they are often not considered in the same way as above grade space when calculating property value.

Appraisal Implications: The Impact on Property Value

When it comes to property valuation, square footage is not valued equally. Above grade square footage typically has a higher value as it includes the main living areas of the home. Below grade space, while potentially useful, doesn’t hold the same weight. This is because basements, despite potentially being functional living areas, do not offer the same accessibility, light, and air flow as above grade spaces.

In the Buyer’s Eyes: Perceptions and Expectations

From a buyer’s perspective, understanding the difference between square footage is important. It helps them know exactly what they’re paying for. For example, a property may appear larger due to a finished basement included in the total square footage. However, if a buyer values above grade space more, this could impact their purchase decision.

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Wrapping Up: The Complete Picture

In conclusion, above and below grade square footage are distinct aspects of a property’s total area. While both contribute to a home’s functionality, they hold different values in the real estate market. Therefore, homeowners, buyers, and real estate professionals need to be aware of these differences when pricing, buying, or selling a property. This knowledge will help ensure a fair and transparent property valuation process.


1. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/is-basement-counted-in-square-footage/

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