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Finished or Uninished basement - what is the criteria?

Discussion in 'Ask an Appraiser' started by amstembr, Jan 3, 2010.

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  1. amstembr

    amstembr New Member

    0
    Apr 20, 2009
    Professional Status:
    General Public
    State:
    Georgia
    The property in question is a 1400 sq. ft home with a basement/crawl space area:
    • The crawl portion has cement floors and ceilings high enough to walk in (if you're kinda short). This is where the furnace, electrical panels, hot water heater and washer/dryer are located.
    • The rest of the basement is a 1BR/1BA area, with three windows, stairs to the upper area, and an external door. There is HVAC in this area, and sheetrock/framing on the walls. The BR/BA is approximately 350 sq. ft.
    The appraiser labeled the 1BR/1BA "Unfinished" and "Non-living space".

    Is there quantitative criteria for determining whether a basement area is Finished or Unfinished? Do I have a case for challenging this portion of their appraisal?
     
  2. Thomas Fiehler

    Thomas Fiehler Senior Member

    2
    Jun 2, 2003
    Professional Status:
    Certified General Appraiser
    State:
    Ohio
    You do not include finished basement space in the room count/GLA.
     
  3. Walter Kirk

    Walter Kirk Senior Member

    17
    Jun 24, 2003
    Professional Status:
    Licensed Appraiser
    State:
    New Jersey
    The criteria is what the market expects. Years ago painted basement walls and floors along with some type of ceiling was considered finished in my market area. Generally speaking basement areas with finishes similar to the upper level of the house will always qualify as a "finished basement".

    Your post indicates that there is a bedroomn and bath in the area in question. I wonder if the bedroom is a legal use. There is also the possibility that the appraiser made a mistake. I would ask the appraiser or the lender for an explanation.
     
  4. Lobo Fan

    Lobo Fan Elite Member

    0
    Nov 28, 2004
    Professional Status:
    Certified Residential Appraiser
    State:
    New Mexico
    ANSI requires a 7 foot ceiling height to be considered as square footage. Access may also be an issue, as ladders or other non-code stairways can preclude an area from being included. Those spaces may add value, but should not be incliuded in the square footage. Anything below grade is not included in the square footage or the above grade room counts.

    Here is the chapter and verse: Living Area Criteria

    Living area (sometimes referred to as "heated living area" or "heated square footage") is space that is intended for human occupancy and is:
    1.Heated by a conventional heating system or systems (forced air, radiant, solar, etc.) that are permanently installed in the dwelling - not a portable heater - which generates heat sufficient to make the space suitable for year-round occupancy;
    2.Finished, with walls, floors and ceilings of materials generally accepted for interior construction (e.g., painted drywall/sheet rock or panelled walls, carpeted or hardwood flooring, etc.) and with a ceiling height of at least seven feet, except under beams, ducts, etc. where the height must be at least six feet four inches [Note: In rooms with sloped ceilings (e.g., finished attics, bonus rooms, etc.) you may also include as living area the portion of the room with a ceiling height of at least five feet if at least one-half of the finished area of the room has a ceiling height of at least seven feet.]; and
    3.Directly accessible from other living area (through a door or by a heated hallway or stairway)
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
  5. amstembr

    amstembr New Member

    0
    Apr 20, 2009
    Professional Status:
    General Public
    State:
    Georgia
    Ceiling in the downstairs bedroom is 84" high. There is an interior stairway (no ladder or spiral stairs). The upstairs rooms also have sheetrock walls and HVAC.
     
  6. Jerry Bone Jr

    Jerry Bone Jr Senior Member

    0
    Feb 23, 2004
    Professional Status:
    Licensed Appraiser
    State:
    Oregon
    Did the appraiser physically inspect the lower area? Perhaps the appraisal was done as a "drive by" ?
     
  7. Mztk1

    Mztk1 Senior Member

    1
    Dec 3, 2006
    Professional Status:
    Certified Residential Appraiser
    State:
    Florida
    Here is a link for ANSI-765-2003. It is the generally accepted method for measuring square footage of a dwelling.

    http://user153786.websitewizard.com/files/unprotected/ANSI_GLA_standard_2003.pdf

    By this standard, a basement is not included in living area (finished space). "Finished Space" can mean at least two things. It can mean an area of the basement that is finished (which is how you are using it), or it can mean an area that is calculated as part of the overall living area of the dwelling (which is how ANSI-765 2003 could be considered to mean it - and how the appraiser may be considering it).

    Either way, using ANSI, the bath and bedroom in the basement are not counted in the room count of the overall dwelling, and the square footage of the rooms are not counted in the gross living area of the dwelling. The appraiser should have attempted to measure value for the rooms in the basement separately, by comparing other houses that have rooms in their basement, and looking for a market reaction. If this was done, then there is no point in raising the issue, it would just a matter of semantics.
     
  8. ilovemaui

    ilovemaui New Member

    0
    Mar 20, 2010
    Professional Status:
    General Public
    State:
    Oregon
    I don't read anything in ANSI that says the lower level rooms are not counted in the room count. All I see is that the square footages of above grade and below grade are to be noted. Based on your interpretation a single story house built into the side of hill would have no rooms.
     
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