What qualifies to compare square footage when you are below grade?

Asked by Ruthless, 60558 Sun Dec 23, 2007

I talked with my brother in MI who put a contract on our childhood home. He was saying "they" changed the rules regarding counting sq ft and below grade is counted as long as it has egress.

We aren't talking a walkout basement on a hill, with a screened door and patio. We are talking a basement with no windows. The egress is a "hatch" to escape if there were a fire.

Please help.

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Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Wed Feb 27, 2008
Actually, in Evanston, you can now count a bedroom, that's located below grade (even the high-window types) if it has good "egress"... and that means the windows have to be "accessible" (steps to reach them, or large, low windows), and a ladder, from the window to reach ground level.


of course, it could have a walk-out, for that potential fire.

Even though that would allow you to count the bedroom and any finished rooms in the basement in the square footage... I, personally, would not include the basement square footage... I believe in under promising and over-delivering! You never want someone to be disappointed, when viewing your home!
1 vote
smith3gary, Agent, White Lake, MI
Sun Dec 23, 2007
Ruth, Nice wrapping on the home. The State of Michigan website below might offer some information. In some cases, finished rooms (not furnace or laundry rooms) below grade are included in lower level sqft. To my knowledge, for bedrooms, their must either be a "daylight window" or doorwall (walkout).

If this concerns sqft when placing the home in the MLS, all MLS's have different Rules. I'm not familiar with Midland's MLS.

BTW, I'm a Northwood area brat myself.
1 vote
williamzablo…, , Midland, MI
Mon Feb 18, 2013
Appraisals will not count any of the below grade square feet unfortunately due to new regulations enacted about a year ago. Only above grade square feet counts when valuing a property.
0 votes
Ruthless, , 60558
Mon Dec 24, 2007
Thanks Gary, that info was just the sort of stuff I needed. The house was built in the 1960s by my dad. It's on a hill but not like I see lake front homes with walkout basements. The house might be a Quad level? A tri-level plus a 2 story structure? (It has 5 split levels.) But then again, maybe not because the lower levels are completely underground. So really, it is a traditional one story house w/ basement on a different level next to a 2 story house with basement.

Your linked info was also very helpful for me here in Chicago regarding classifying a 1.5 vs 2 story home. Every home I've owned is/was pre-1930s and looks like a 1.5 (i.e. this picture and web ref). However, not all of them are/were brick bungalows. As I did research on this OP home, I discovered it is a "side-entrance Colonial". My WS home in many respects is almost the same as the OP house which creates doubt for me as to whether it is a 1.5 or 2 story.

I fought with the appraiser on my stucco farm-style LGP home. He said it was a 1.5 and I said 2 story because the only bathroom was upstairs with all the bedrooms. That home was similar to my previous 1.5 story BF stucco farm-style except BF's bedrooms and bath were on the first floor. The home before that was a traditional 1.5 story brick bungalow.

So, although I know exactly how to calculate sq ft, the number of stories is still questionable - especially when dormers are added. Your information was a different way at classifying it by separating out "style" completely.

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